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Listen to Go4it! Guest: Hall of Famer Drew Pearson

Listen to Go4it! Hall of Famer Drew Pearson talks making the Hall of Fame, career, Super Bowl 55, his Hail Mary catch against Vikings, his belief that Dak Prescott is the guy for the Cowboys, Tom Brady being the GOAT, and more.

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Giants’ Ryan: ‘Regardless of what happens tonight, I feel like we run the division’

The New York Giants(6-10) handled their business on Sunday and defeated the Cowboys(6-10) 23-19 at MetLife Stadium. With the victory, the Cowboys are eliminated from playoff contention, and now they wait for the outcome of the Washington Football Team-Eagles game on Sunday night.

If Washington loses, the Giants win the NFC East, which would be a great accomplishment when you consider they were 1-7 after eight games.

No matter what happens with Washington tonight, Giants S Logan Ryan feels New York is the class of the NFC East.

“Regardless of what happens tonight, I feel like we run the division,” Ryan said after the game. “I feel like we swept Washington. I feel like at the first Cowboys game, they had a great play at the end of the game to get them in field goal range and we kind of let that happen. We came back and avenged that with a great play on our end. The Philly game, it was a similar thing; we failed in a dramatic fashion in the end. Our two-minute defense was being questioned. Our third down defense was being questioned, and we came back and pretty much handled Philly the second time. I can’t talk too bad about Philly because I’m a Philly fan today. I need all my South Jersey people to flap their wings tonight, so I won’t beat up Philly too bad. Other than that, I feel like we’re the best team in the division. We definitely deserve to represent the NFC East.

“It wouldn’t mean anything different, honestly. We won our last game. We did everything we could. I’m not going to hang my head if it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t make me think any higher or any lower of this team. It was an odd year for everybody. It’s an odd year for this division, but we fought our division well. I feel like we’re the best team in the division. We didn’t handle the games outside of the division all the time, so we’ll see what happens. Whether we make it or not, I know that’s great for the fan base, it’s great for the franchise, it great to have a division matter, but I’m not going to think about this team any differently based on the results tonight.”

The NFC East is the NFC East. It’s not a very good division. Maybe, the Giants are the best team in the NFC East, but at the end of the day, if Washington wins tonight, they are the NFC East champions. It’s that simple!

PhotoL @Giants/Twitter

Giants are just focused on beating Dallas

The Giants were riding their train on the way home from Baltimore yesterday evening when they learned the results of the late afternoon games involving NFC East teams that left them with an opportunity to win the division title on the final weekend of the regular season.

But Joe Judge would prefer his players not think about the possibility of playing in the postseason but instead concentrate on their Week 17 opponents, the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s the same approach the first-year coach has taken all year.

“I actually met with the team last night when we got back to make sure we were set on what the plan for the week was,” Judge said on a Zoom call today. “Our focus still needs to remain on the Cowboys. That’s the priority this week. We remain focused on improving as a team. We have a division rival coming up ahead, it’s a big game for us. Obviously, there are implications. As I’ve said all along, those games right now don’t exist. Until I can talk about any kind of opponent coming up beyond who we’re playing, there’s not a conversation to be had. Our focus remains on the Cowboys.”

Dallas has won three consecutive games to improve to 6-9. On Oct. 11, the Cowboys defeated the Giants in AT&T Stadium, 37-34, on Greg Zuerlein’s 34-yard field goal as time expired. Dallas has won the last seven games between the teams.

The Giants are alive in the division race despite a three-game losing streak that has dropped their record to 5-10. The winner of their game against Dallas in MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. Sunday must then wait for the result of the Washington Football Team vs. Eagles game that night in Philadelphia. A Washington victory will give it the division crown at 7-9. Should Dallas win and Washington lose, the Cowboys will stand alone at 7-9 and the Giants will finish third at 5-11. But if the Giants and the Eagles – who are eliminated – each win, all three contenders will be 6-10. The Giants would claim the championship based on their 3-1 head-to-head record vs. Dallas and Washington.

Yesterday, the Giants lost to the Ravens in the 1 o’clock window, 27-13. Dallas and Washington each played late in the afternoon, giving Judge and the Giants an opportunity to monitor their games as they returned to New Jersey. The Cowboys crushed the Eagles, 37-17, while Washington lost to the Carolina Panthers, 20-13.

“Being on the train, actually we had the game streaming in the background,” Judge said. “We had kind of a little conference room in the front car that I was in. Me and (defensive coordinator) Pat Graham sat in there. We went through the defensive tape together and watched like we do, we did the same thing coming back from Washington and talked some ball. We were kind of checking scores throughout the league with a lot of games going. That’s kind of normal custom right there. Everyone’s kind of checking scores around the league. Last night was no different. Obviously, there were some division games going on that we were conscious of. We checked those, we streamed those and watched the end of those games.”

Judge was asked what the team’s reaction was after learning their Week 17 games would potentially have a division championship at stake.

“To be honest with you, I was actually separate from the rest of the players,” Judge said. “They had us very spaced out in the cars. The front car was kind of more coaches than it was players. I saw the players on the back end when we got back to the facility. I called a quick meeting in the bubble just to address how we’re going to handle the week going forward, and kind of clear up any questions that may have come up. To be honest with you, look, the questions about the playoffs, these are things the players obviously have as well.

“We’re going to keep our focus on Dallas. We’re not getting focused on the playoffs. I truly believe what I said earlier. This is a hypothetical game. The only thing we can control is what we do against Dallas. At the same time, there’s a human nature that they’re very conscious of what’s going on around the league. It would be naïve or ignorant to pretend that they’re not paying attention as well. When we got back, I grabbed the team and just kind of let them know what the situation is, but really, reaffirm the importance of staying focused on Dallas. That’s all we can control.”

The players, no doubt following a directive from Judge, have virtually abstained from discussing the division race and postseason permutations.

“I’m just focused on Dallas,” center Nick Gates said. “We have to beat Dallas first to be able to even think about the playoffs. After we beat them, we have to see if Washington wins. I’m just focused on Dallas and trying to give ourselves the best opportunity.”

“Our coaches hit it best,” said middle linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez. “They said, you always want to have meaningful December football games. Obviously, this game will be in January, so meaningful January games. To be able to have that, every competitor, especially in the NFL, wants to have that opportunity.”

And what are Martinez’s thoughts about the Giants’ playoff chances?

“You just go about each and every week the same that we have been doing since the start of the season,” Martinez said. “Just making sure we get better. Going to work Monday, making improvements that we need to from the previous game. Just focus on what we can do as a team to be better than we were last week. Be better than we were to start the season. As long as we’re doing that and showing it the following Sunday, whatever ends up happening, happens. We’re ready to go and we’ll do the same thing if we get another chance to re-focus in and get back to work the following Monday after that.”

Martinez is one captain clearly following the orders of his general.

Via: giants.com

 

Vikings’ Cousins: ‘Just a heartbreaking loss today’

The Minnesota Vikings have been hot over the past three weeks. After starting the season 1-4, Minnesota reeled off three straight victories, and it appeared the Vikings were moving in the right direction. However, Sunday’s result might have you questioning that.

With the struggling Cowboys in town, Minnesota had a chance to get to .500, but trailing 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys QB Andy Dalton threw a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Dalton Schultz, and Dallas(3-7) would go onto defeat Minnesota(4-6) 31-28.

“I don’t think we played well enough to win today,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. “We had our opportunities, made too many mistakes. Had three fumbles in the first half, lost two. We had too many penalties. We weren’t good in the red zone on defense today. Obviously we can’t get the fourth-down play to win the game. We have to get back to work. We had a good week of practice but just didn’t play well enough; I don’t think.”

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, called the loss “heartbreaking.”

 “Yeah, just a heartbreaking loss today,” Cousins said. “It was hard-fought, it was back and forth. It’s one of those games, and so many NFL games are like this, but one or two plays makes the difference in the end. You know that going in, and you feel that during the game, but we just didn’t come out on the right side of enough of those plays to win the game, obviously. Still, a lot of football to be played, but we have to bounce back quickly and get back on track. There are positives to point to, but ultimately when you don’t win, you leave the stadium feeling sick to your stomach.”

This is a game the Vikings had to win. If they get by Dallas, Minnesota would have been two games behind the Packers for the top spot in the NFC North after Green Bay fell to the Colts on Sunday.

Minnesota will be kicking themselves after this disappointing loss. There is still a decent amount of football left for the Vikings, but a loss like this is unacceptable for a team looking to make a run at the playoffs.

Eagles’ Pederson on playing Cowboys: ‘It’s always a great week”

If you’re an Eagles fan, there are two games that you want to win more than any other, and that’s against the hated Dallas Cowboys, who the Eagles will battle this Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. 

However, this week’s game is a little more significant. While both teams are struggling, there is still a division to be won, and at this point, the Eagles(2-4-1), who hold the top spot in the NFC East, are 1/2 game up on the Cowboys(2-5). If Dallas wins, they reclaim first place in the NFC East, but a win for Philadelphia would increase their lead over Dallas.

It’s Dallas week, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson knows how that feels as a player and coach. On Wednesday, Pederson discussed playing the Cowboys.

“Yeah, you know I do. It’s always a great week,” Pederson said. “It’s an exciting week anytime you play any of our division opponents, division rivals. This is no different. We’re on Sunday Night Football, and we’re excited again to be in the national spotlight to be in another home game. Feeding off hopefully a little bit of momentum from last Thursday, but it’s something that you look at both teams, and maybe there’s not the same lust or excitement from the game.

“Maybe the two teams are struggling or whatever it is — but listen, it’s always the Dallas Cowboys. I remember back in ’99 when I played here, and I can think of the fans are always like, hey there’s two games every year that you really got to win, and it’s the two Dallas game. That’s a part of the excitement this week. The guys are excited. I know Dallas will be excited coming up here. Looking forward to playing.”

This is a very winnable game for the Eagles, but so was last against the Giants, and the Eagles needed a big-time fourth quarter out of Carson Wentz to get the victory. The Cowboys will be without injured QB Andy Dalton, and in his place is Ben DiNucci, who was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft and will be making his first career start on Sunday. Furthermore, the Cowboys don’t play defense and are 27th in total defense, and are allowing almost 35(34.7) points per game, so the Eagles have a great chance here. However, it’s a rivalry game, which means anything can happen.

Giants’ Jones: ‘I think everyone on this team feels like we’ve been in the position to win games’

The New York Giants had a great chance to get their first victory of the year on Sunday. However, after leading 17-3 in the second quarter, the Giants(0-5) would allow the Dallas Cowboys(2-3) to get back into the game, and ultimately, the Cowboys would defeat New York 37-34 at AT&T Stadium. 

While the horrific injury to Dak Prescott may have overshadowed the game, this was an exciting contest. Prescott would leave in the third quarter with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. After relinquishing the lead, the Giants were able to take the go-ahead of Dallas midway through the fourth quarter 34-31 when Devonta Freeman scored on a seven-yard touchdown run.

However, Cowboys backup QB Andy Dalton led the team on two scoring drives, which allowed the Cowboys to tie the game and ultimately win at the buzzer when Greg Zuerlein hit a 37-yard field goal. It was Zuerlein’s second field goal in the final 1:56 after the Giants had taken a 34-31 lead.

The Giants’ 34 points was their highest total since their 41-35 overtime victory in Washington on Dec. 22, 2019. They had scored a total of 47 points and had not scored more than 16 points in their first four games. The 34 points are great, but New York is still 0-5. 

“Look, obviously they’re disappointed after any game where we don’t come out winners, but one thing I know about our team is it’s a resilient group, and it’s a hard-working bunch,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said after the game. “We’ll come back to work this week, we’re going to see great energy, we’re going to have great focus, and we’re going to get tuned in and ready for another division opponent. All of our focus, whether it’s win or loss, shifts to the next opponent the next morning anyway, so we’ve got to clean up this game, get ready for the next opponent, and move on forward.”

According to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who was 20/33 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, New York has to continue to stay the course.

 “I think it’s been a tough start. To say we aren’t disappointed, would be a lie,” Jones said after the game. “We certainly are, it’s been a tough start. I don’t think anyone on this team is discouraged. We’re not going to allow ourselves to be discouraged and let this start affect the rest of this season. We have a lot of football ahead of us, and I think everyone on this team feels like we’ve been in the position to win games, we’ve improved as a team, and we’re capable of winning each of these games.

“So in terms of our confidence as a team and what we believe we’re capable of doing, I think that’s going to be the important thing in us finishing strong and winning these games down the stretch. So, that’s where we are as a team, we’re disappointed, we want to win every game, but we’re not going to let it affect our preparation and how we approach these next 11 games.”

Even at 0-5, New York still has a shot in the lousy NFC East. The Giants are two games behind the Cowboys in the division. The next few weeks for New York is vital as they play division foes Philadelphia and Washington, which Jones discussed after the game

“Yeah, all these divisional games are big games and important games,” Jones said. “Certainly, like I said, at this point we’ve lost, but I don’t feel like we’re out of the division at all. We have a couple big games coming up, and all we can do is prepare as hard as we can and be ready to play those games. Like I said, we’re not going to let this game affect us going forward, and how we prepare for the next opportunity.”

At this point, the Giants are not a good football team, but they played well against the Cowboys, which could be something to build on in the coming weeks.

Giants interview Kris Richard

Kris Richard today became the first candidate interviewed by the Giants for their vacant head coaching position.

Richard, 40, met with team president John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman, vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams, as well as other staff.

Pat Shurmur was dismissed as head coach on Monday.

Richard spent the past two seasons in the NFC East as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach.

In 2019, Dallas’ pass defense ranked 10th in the NFL, allowing 223.5 yards a game. The Cowboys allowed 21 touchdown passes, tied for the league’s eighth-lowest figure and about four fewer than the NFL average.

The previous season, the Cowboys finished 13th in pass defense, allowing 234.7 yards a game, and 22 touchdown passes. Three important contributors to the pass defense, end DeMarcus Lawrence, cornerback Byron Jones and rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, were selected to the Pro Bowl. Richard moved Jones back to corner after the player had spent the majority of his time at safety.

Prior to joining the Cowboys, Richard spent eight seasons on the coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks, for whom he helped develop the famed “Legion of Boom” secondary that included Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and Byron Maxwell.

After beginning his tenure in Seattle in 2010 as the team’s assistant defensive backs coach, Richard spent one season as the cornerbacks coach and two as the defensive backs coach. In 2015, he began a three-year stint as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator.

Under Richard’s tutelage in Seattle, Thomas earned five Pro Bowl nominations and four AP All-Pro (three first-team, one second-team) selections, Sherman was a four-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro (three first-team, one second-team) and Chancellor a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time second-team All-Pro.

In Richard’s first season as coordinator in 2015, Seattle led the NFL in scoring defense for the fourth consecutive season, becoming the first defense in the Super Bowl era to accomplish the feat. The unit led the league by allowing just 81.5 rushing yards a game and a franchise-record low 1,304 yards.

Richard’s 2013 secondary was one of the most dominant in NFL history. The Seahawks ranked first in the NFL in passing defense (172.0 yards per game), interceptions (28) and opposing quarterback passer rating (63.4). In Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII victory against Denver in MetLife Stadium, Seattle’s secondary held Peyton Manning to 280 passing yards – 60 less than his regular-season average – and a 73.5 rating (after he had posted 115.1 rating during the season).

During Richard’s tenure, Seattle’s defense ranked in the top five in five consecutive seasons (2012-16). The Seahawks also became the fourth team in NFL history to lead the league in fewest points and yards allowed in back-to-back seasons (2013-14).

Prior to Seattle, Richard spent two seasons (2008-09) as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, USC, working with the defensive backs.

Originally a third-round draft choice (85th overall) by Seattle, Richard played in 38 games at cornerback with one start in three years for the Seahawks before playing one season in San Francisco. At USC, he was a four-year letter winner from 1998-2001 and a started in his final three seasons. Richard had eight career interceptions and returned three for touchdowns, along with 125 tackles, 19 deflections and two fumble recoveries.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Prescott: ‘We’re too talented of a team and individuals to not make the plays, starting with myself’

At this point, with the playoffs seemingly out of their reach, it’s safe to say that the 2019 Dallas Cowboys(7-8) will go down as a huge disappointment, and what happened on Sunday may have epitomized what this team has been about in 2019.

With an opportunity to win the division, the Cowboys went into Philadelphia(8-7) and were beaten by the Eagles 17-9. Dallas started slow and was down 10-0 in the first quarter, but after two Kai Forbath field goals, Dallas was able to cut Philly’s lead to 10-6 at the break. After a Miles Sanders one-yard touchdown run, the Eagles would go up 17-6 late in the third quarter. Following another Forbath field goal that cut the lead to 17-9, Dallas had an opportunity late in the game to tie the score, but Dak Prescott’s pass intended for WR Michael Gallup was knocked away by Sidney Jones. 

“Yeah, I mean, man-to-man [coverage]. [I] had one of our best receivers, Michael Gallup, one-on-one and took that shot at it,” Prescott(25-44, 265 yards) said on the 4th down pass to Gallup. “I had an opportunity; I just didn’t make the play. [We] got to do a better job on both our ends right there to make that play happen.”

The Cowboys, who have the NFL’s top-ranked offense, were held without a touchdown, and with all that talent on the offensive side of the ball, not scoring a touchdown and not executing in a game of this magnitude, is disappointing to Prescott.

“We didn’t get it done,” Prescott said. “We’re too talented of a team and individuals to not make the plays, starting with myself. It’s disappointing; it’s frustrating. We all take responsibility, and like I said, it begins with me. We’re too talented, and we didn’t execute the way that we’re capable of doing, and [the Eagles] did.”

Now, if they want to win the NFC East, Dallas needs some help. They have to beat the Redskins and hope that the Giants, who host the Eagles next Sunday, can win.

“At that point, we’re rooting for another team hoping that we get a chance,” Prescott said. “That’s not a position anyone wants to be in when they have to depend on someone else, but we put ourselves in this position, and it’s disappointing and frustrating.”

What happened today was disappointing and frustrating for the Cowboys, but sadly for the team, this has been par for the course in 2019.

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘The Cowboys have been a team we have struggled with’

Anytime the Cowboys and Eagles get together, it’s always big, and this Sunday in Philadelphia will be even bigger because of what is at stake. If the Cowboys win on Sunday, they win the NFC East. If the Eagles pull it off, they control their own destiny and would have to beat the Giants in Week 17 to win the NFC East. 

These two teams met earlier in the season, and it was not close. The Cowboys routed the Eagles 37-10 in Dallas, and since 2016(Doug Pederson’s first year as Eagles head coach), the Cowboys are 5-2 against the Eagles, which includes four straight victories. Furthermore, when Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is on the field,  Dallas is 5-0 against Philadelphia. 

It’s safe to say that the Cowboys have the Eagles’ number, something Eagles head coach Doug Pederson recognizes. 

“The Cowboys have been a team we have struggled with,” Pederson said on Friday. “It’s something that we just have to continue to work and try to overcome. They have had our number here recently and really since my time here in Philly. It’s something that as we look at the tape and how I prepare the football team and get ready to play and all of that, I would look at all of that.

“At the end of the day, we’re focused on this game and one game, and then hopefully we can turn things around. We do well with the other teams. It’s just this one team that kind of has our number right now.”

The Eagles will have their work cut out for them against the Cowboys. Philadelphia is a very banged up football team. They’re missing their top two wide receivers, starting RB, their starting right tackle, and defensive end. However, Carson Wentz has carried them to victory the past two weeks, but beating the Giants and Redskins is a lot easier than beating the Cowboys. Maybe the injury to Dak Prescott’s shoulder could even things up, but we won’t know that until Sunday.

On paper, the Cowboys look like the better team, but that’s why you play the game.

Giants’ OC: ‘Dallas’ defense is one of the top in the league’

With all the attention this week on Ezekiel Elliott’s return, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense has been relatively overlooked in the run-up to the team’s Kickoff Weekend game against the Giants in AT&T Stadium.

But the defense has received the full attention of the Giants’ offensive players and coaches, who know they are going to face a daunting challenge against a unit laden with talent at all levels.

“We’ve talked all week about how active their defense is,” coach Pat Shurmur said today. “Not only are they good one-on-one, but they also move a lot, which requires good coordination from the guys up front. They’re a big challenge.”

“It’s going to be a great challenge,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “Dallas’ defense is one of the top in the league, and they’re really, really good at home, especially with having the crowd noise, their speed and their talent.”

The Cowboys return all 11 starters on a defense that finished the 2018 season in the top 10 in both points allowed (20.3 per game/sixth) and yardage (329.3/seventh). By comparison, the offense that features Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper finished 22nd (gaining 343.8 yards a game). The Cowboys were 10-6 and won the NFC East largely on the strength of their defense.

The D in Big D is coordinated by Rod Marinelli, but passing game coordinator Kris Richard calls the plays from the field. They lead a unit that is fast and disruptive and makes opposing offenses work for every opportunity.

“They have a number of good players,” said Eli Manning, who will begin his Giants-record 16th season with his 30th regular-season start against Dallas. “They play very fast, it’s a fast defense, they run to the ball. They are very disciplined in their assignments and their technique. It’s a team, they have good players all around, we just have to know their scheme, have answers for certain looks and execute our game plan.”

“Their speed and quickness (jump out),” Shula said. “They’re built for speed. They’ve always been. They get to the ball fast. They fly around, and because they get to the ball so quickly, they’ve created a lot of turnovers. Their scheme allows them to play really, really fast and they’ve drafted guys within that scheme that can be very disruptive.”

The strength up front is at the ends, which are manned by DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. Lawrence was selected to the last two Pro Bowls while compiling 25.0 sacks, the league’s fourth-highest total in that span.

Weakside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was also a Pro Bowler after totaling a franchise rookie record 176 tackles (151 solo). He teams with Jaylon Smith, who plays in the middle, to give Dallas what is arguably the NFL’s best linebacker tandem. Two-time Pro Bowler Sean Lee is a still a force on the strong side, though he is removed in sub defenses.

Saquon Barkley learned on the Giants’ trip to Dallas last year how difficult it is to run on the Cowboys. The Rookie of the Year rushed for a season-low 28 yards. He did catch a franchise-record 14 passes, but they gained just 80 yards. A 68-yard run helped Barkley gain 109 yards on the ground vs. Dallas in the season finale.

“Their front seven is very, very difficult to run on,” Barkley said. “Their linebacker corps is amazing – Jaylon Smith, all those guys – every single one of them are amazing players. They’re fast, they’re physical, they flow to the ball well, they tackle really well in open space. I know it’s not going to be a cakewalk. It’s never a cakewalk in the NFL, so it’s going to be a physical game. They move up front a lot, so we’ve got to be patient, and when the opportunity comes and we can split it and gash for a long run, however many times that opportunity comes, we’ve got to be ready for it and take advantage of it.”

“(They) are very coordinated with their linebackers to play the run,” Shula said.

It’s almost as difficult to pass against the Cowboys, who were 13th in the league last year allowing 234.7 yards a game. Byron Jones has such impressive coverage skills he was named second-team All-Pro and to the NFC Pro Bowl team despite not intercepting a pass. According to the Cowboys, Jones allowed only one touchdown pass – against the Giants on Dec. 30. Safeties Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods are also productive players.

“We have to do a good job of staying out of the long yardage situations, as we always talk about,” Shula said. “But then if we’re in passing situations, we have to make sure that, whether or not we’re sliding our protection, using chip help or getting the ball out fast, we do all of those things well, because they’re really good rushing the passer and they’re also good against the run too. They bring movement. They have speed on third down, whether or not it’s up the field or change of direction, and they really, more so than other teams, do that on first and second down too.”

In the Cowboys’ Week 2 victory last season, Dallas’ defense did a good job of preventing long passes. Only one of Manning’s 33 completions gained more than 18 yards.

“If teams are going to try to stay back and keep guys in front of them, then you have to be able to be patient,” Shula said. “We call it with our quarterbacks being ‘aggressively patient’. When there are good looks there down the field, take them. If not, be patient and take things underneath. As the year went on, not necessarily against Dallas but just in general, when we saw those looks, because they weren’t the only team we saw them against, we were much better, when we got the ball underneath, of making yards afterwards. I think there were a couple of plays, even in our second game against Dallas, where Wayne (Gallman Jr.) caught a ball underneath and went for 15 yards. Saquon caught one underneath and went for…

“Dallas is really good in space, but we’ve got guys that are pretty good with the ball in their hands in space. I think all of us, and I said this throughout the offseason, the comfort level is much higher, so our guys should be playing faster now than they did at any point last year because of their experience in the system.”