TheGiantsBeat: Matt Cassel has been named the new interim starter until Romo returns to the lineup. Does the team feel confident in Cassel under center and who do you see him having immediate chemistry with in the Dallas receiving corps?
CowboysHQ: In reality, fans shouldn't expect Cassel to have a better skillset than Brandon Weeden had. Both players are undoubtedly bus drivers at this point of their careers. The issue was Weeden regressed week by week and wasn't even doing "bus driver" correctly by the New England game. Cassel should be more accurate than Weeden, and most importantly have better command of the mental aspect of quarterbacking, which should lead to a more competent Dallas offense. It's an interesting question about chemistry with wide receivers. Being that he has only been in town for a month, that is a huge question mark. If Witten has returned to relative health, expect him to be Cassel's go to, especially with the return of James Hanna to take on the blocking duties and allow Witten to be out on more routes.
Randy Gregory is projected to return from his ankle injury and play for the first team since week 1; what impact do you see Gregory having on Sunday and who will have a diminished role on the defense once he returns?
Fans have a right to be giddy with anticipation on Gregory's return. In the first game he seemed unblockable, getting four QB pressures (3 hurries, 1 hit) on just 15 pass rush attempts; that's an insane ratio. He'll continue in that role, passing down specialist, pushing Greg Hardy inside to team up with Tyrone Crawford to collapse the middle. With Demarcus Lawrence playing LDE, this would mean less time on the field for Jack Crawford, who already saw his snaps decrease with Hardy back. Mincey had a decreased snap count as well, but that might have been more about Dallas using the 3-2-6 defense to try and throw off the Pats. Expect him to spell Lawrence at LDE and keep his snaps the same. Giants fans should be very familiar with a pass-rush centric defensive line rotation.
In the season opener Dallas did a great covering Odell Beckham Jr, limiting him to only 44 yards while double covering him with two deep safeties over the top; do you see Dallas talking a similarly protective approach against OBJ again and is he on the ‘Boys radar as the Giants’ biggest offensive threat?
He isn't just on the radar, he is the entire screen. Save for Julio Jones' second half explosion, Dallas has been on an extended streak of limiting opposing team's primary receiving option. It started with TY Hilton in Week 16 last year, extended through Megatron and Jordy Nelson in the playoffs, then OBJ in the opener and Rob Gronkowski two weeks ago. Dallas has played a great deal of Cover 1 this year, and has recently tried to give Mo Claiborne the number one duties. It didn't work against Edelman, who is similar to OBJ in body type. I'd expect everyone to get a shot at covering Beckham, including rookie Byron Jones on occasion, as well as Corey White who didn't get many snaps earlier in the year.
What are the keys to victory for Dallas on offense and defense during this game and what Cowboys player do you think will be the biggest impact player?
On offense, Dallas simply has to get more creative in their play-calling based on down/distance. The limitations of a backup quarterback are exposed when the opposition knows you're always running on 1st and 10 and also scared to threaten downfield or the sideline routes. If they run out of 11 personnel more often, that would go a long way to preventing 9 in the box like they've faced on run downs. On defense the key is pressure, pressure, pressure. Greg Hardy let it be known that the only option to contain a QB like Eli is to hit him in the mouth and make him look at the rush or he'll carve a defense up. Dallas is a defense-led team until Romo and Dez return and the pressure from the front four and occasional LB blitz will be paramount in any successful game plan. The key will be Hardy's disruption, as well as Tyrone Crawford, because Eli is so good at getting rid of the ball, up the middle pressure has to be there to affect his rhythm in this offense.