Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bob Sturm's scouting report: Giants inconsistent, but defensive end Pierre-Paul is formidable

http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/headlines/20141018-bob-sturm-s-scouting-report-giants-inconsistent-but-defensive-end-pierre-paul-is-formidable.ece

The Giants visit the area with a mixed bag of results so far in 2014.
They hold a 3-3 record but have yet to play a game with less than a double-digit margin. In other words, they have either been very good or very bad and are struggling to play with the consistency needed to contend. 
Let's take a look at two areas to watch Sunday:
Offensive line
It is stunning to see how little the offense has in common with the squad the Cowboys played in New Jersey on Nov. 24. 
Only four starters — QB Eli Manning, WR Rueben Randle and tackles Will Beatty and Justin Pugh — are the same from that unit the Cowboys played in Week 12.
That means the guard-center-guard combo for the Giants is new. For the most part, the transition is going well. 
Weston Richburg is a second-round rookie left guard who brings an abrasive style. Richburg is joined by veteran interior linemen John Jerry (from Miami) and J.D. Walton (Denver), who have done a solid job. 
The trouble has been at right tackle. Pugh has started every game since being one of the nine offensive linemen taken in the first round of the 2013 draft, along with Dallas center Travis Frederick. The debate about Pugh in the buildup to the draft was whether the Syracuse tackle could overcome the issues with size (he weighs barely 300 pounds) and arm length (32 inches compared with Tyron Smith, who is just short of 37 inches). 
This season — particularly the last two games against Atlanta and Philadelphia — you can really see those shortcomings on the tape. 
Pugh conceded 4-5 sacks in a 27-0 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night in what would be described as a complete nightmare performance as Connor Barwin and Trent Cole beat him several times. He is starting to anticipate the snap and guess what his man is going to do, which sometimes works well but is never the technique for consistency. He is off-balance and missing badly too often. 
Look for the Cowboys to try to isolate and attack him after seeing his form that certainly is affecting his confidence.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Almost no name in recent history causes stomach pains among the Cowboys’ offensive line quite like Jason Pierre-Paul. 
In the four games against Dallas in 2011 and 2012, Pierre-Paul dominated LT Doug Free to a point where the Cowboys switched Tyron Smith over there, only for JPP to teach the young Smith a thing or two. 
The totals in four games: 16 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, an interception for a touchdown and a blocked field goal to save the game, the division title and ultimately a Super Bowl title in 2011.
Pierre-Paul had a horrid 2013, which included back surgery and a shoulder injury that clearly cost him his explosiveness. 
In 2014, a contract year, he is approaching his old self. He is getting a strong pass rush again from right defensive end, although at this point he has just 11/2 sacks. 
But, his pressures and hurries are among the league’s best. His run-stuffing is fantastic, and he has more tackles than any 4-3 defensive end in the league by a healthy margin.
Will he ever be a 16-sacks guy again? Maybe, but at age 25, we should not assume he has already fallen from the ranks of the elite.
Bob Sturm co-hosts BaD Radio on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket from noon-3 p.m. on weekdays and blogs for SportsDayDFW.com.

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