What We Saw: Week 1

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from this week's action

Cowboys @ Giants

Final Score: Cowboys 40, Giants 0

Senior Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)


The Dallas Cowboys came into MetLife Stadium and smashed the New York Giants in the mouth from the start. Elite defense and special teams play jettisoned the Cowboys into a 26-0 lead early in the second quarter. The surreal sight of several Dallas starters being rested for longer and rotated with backups in the second quarter showed the dominance and confidence Dan Quinn had in his defense. The Giants even ran out the clock at the end of the first half to ringing boos from the fans. Brian Daboll had a frustrated look and was shaking his head every time the camera panned his way.

It did not get any better after the break as the Giants could not move the ball on offense and the defense looked hapless to stop a dominant Cowboys offensive line. As the score run up, Daboll was completely distraught and looked disgusted at his team on the sideline. The Cowboys played much of the fourth quarter with backups including quarterback Cooper Rush, who only threw one pass on fourth down on the last drive of the game.

The remarkable blocked field goal returned for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game set the tone for the contest.


Three Up

  • Tony Pollard – clear road to high volume and production with little competition and the defense will allow the Cowboys to lean on the run game heavily through the season.
  • CeeDee Lamb – when they needed to the Cowboys went to Lamb, who delivered in explosive fashion.
  • Cowboys DST – it is likely you just won your matchup if you started the Cowboys defense and special teams unit. Have a night!


Three Down

  • Giants Offensive Line – a revolving door of errors, misjudgements and flat out incompetence at times
  • Giants Wide Receivers – only five completions from Jones in the first half, none to his receivers. Yikes!
  • Daniel Jones – Daboll worked his magic last season but it is quite possible that Jones has less weapons to throw to and less room to maneuver in the rushing game.


Dallas Cowboys




Dak Prescott: 13/24, 143 Yards | 1 Carry, 6 Yards


It was a stroll in the park for Dak Prescott in this contest as the game script allowed him to lean on the run game, using his backs on screens and dump offs to stretch out drives and slowly eat away at the clock as the Cowboys enjoyed a big lead early. Prescott made a couple of nice throws on third down to move the chains and a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive at the start of the second half effectively ended the contest at 33-0.

From a fantasy point of view, this was as disastrous as the Giants’ night in totality. Prescott had a number of question marks against his name after a poor 2022 and this performance didn’t tell us anything. He did what he needed to but that was about it.



  • Tight end Peyton Hendershot dropped a perfect pass from Prescott in the end zone at the start of the second half, which should have given him a passing score.
  • Dak attempted just ten throws in the second half.
  • Chemistry with CeeDee Lamb looks as healthy as it has ever been and Dak looked his way on key throws.


Cooper Rush: 0/1


Running Back


Tony Pollard: 14 Carries, 70 Yards, 2 TD | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 12 Yards


It is finally Tony Pollard season in Dallas and the talented all-purpose back did it all behind a phenomenal offensive line performance to run all over the Giants defense in a “fantasy feast” performance. Pollard excelled on inside runs as the Giants struggled to gain any pressure against the Dallas front. Pollard comfortably averaged five yards per carry and hit pay dirt twice in the first half to become an instant fantasy darling to start the year. He also saw all his teams targets out of the backfield – all three little dump offs from Prescott for Pollard to gain short yardage to move the sticks.


Rico Dowdle: 6 Carries, 24 Yards


Dowdle featured from the start as the backup to Pollard and saw the majority of touches with the starters in place. He ran effectively and generally came in after Pollard needed a rest. It was actually KaVontae Turpin who was called on in several key third down and goal line packages. Dowdle never threatened to play a meaningful role.


Deuce Vaughn: 6 Carries, 8 Yards


The backup to the backup was only used in the fourth quarter to run out the clock – he was asked to run into a brick wall six times to run down the clock.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


CeeDee Lamb: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 77 Yards


It was a quiet but efficient night for Cowboys superstar receiver CeeDee Lamb, who a victim of the early blow out as his quarterback looked to the ground rather than move the ball through the air. Saying that, Lamb ripped apart rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III with his route running and his speed. The sixth round pick out of Old Dominion was given the run-around by Lamb, who created separation with ease and looked to be open for most of the night. He was the primary target on third down on the Cowboys first meaningful offensive drive of the game, breaking out after a clever play design found him in space down the sideline.


Lamb was still on the field at the start of the fourth quarter on the final Cowboys touchdown drive in which he ripped off a huge gain after toasting Hawkins again, setting up the Cowboys on the Giants 31-yard line.


Brandin Cooks: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 22 Yards


Journeyman Brandin Cooks was involved in two scoring drives in the first half, most notably connecting with Prescott nicely for 16-yard gain for the offense’s first touchdown of the season. Cooks also drew a 37 yard pass interference penalty on the Cowboys’ previous drive – it was a third and long situation so Cooks seems to be high on the list of priorities for this offense despite today’s modest production. He wasn’t targeted in the second half.


Jake Ferguson: 7 Targets, 2 Receptions, 11 Yards


The Cowboys tried to feature tight end Jake Ferguson throughout the first half but the fourth round selection in 2022 out of Wisconsin struggled with his hands and had a number of bad drops. Ferguson isn’t a clean route runner and never looks settled when turning towards the ball for a catch. Later in the game, other tight end Peyton Hendershot did see a red-zone opportunity which he dropped and should have caught.



  • A go to target in the red-zone and on third down in the first half but Ferguson could not haul in either opportunity.
  • Looked sharp in his routes but his hands let him down in contested situations.
  • Ferguson isn’t a great blocker and he is the weakest part of this offense. Not an established threat by any means.


KaVontae Turpin: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 11 Yards | 3 Carries, 14 Yards, TD


It was a nice night for veteran wideout Turpin, whose journey from the European Football League and USFL to the NFL is a great storyline. Turpin impressed last season on kick-off and punt returns but looks to be in line for a larger role both in the air and on the ground. Indeed, it may be Turpin and not Dowdle who could feature in goal line packages as a runner after he took a toss from Prescott in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.


Michael Gallup: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 10 Yards


Hardly saw a look and doesn’t seem to be a key player based off this performance. His non-reception was actually a deep ball down the sideline that he acrobatically hauled in for what would have been a big gain but Gallup landed well out of bounds.


Peyton Hendershot: 1 Target

Jalen Tolbert: 1 Target


New York Giants




Daniel Jones: 15/28, 104 Yards, 2 INT, 7 Sacks | 13 Carries, 43 Yards, 2 Fumbles (Recovered)


It was as rough a start as was possible for Daniel Jones, who after an encouraging 2022 came back down to earth with a bang in front of his own fans at a beleaguered MetLife Stadium. A couple of early miscues swung the momentum the Cowboys way and they were relentless in their pressure of Jones, whose offensive line did him no favors in pass protection whatsoever. Jones was scrambling in the backfield on every drive as his tackles were no match for the power and creativity of Dallas’ defensive front. 7 sacks, s-e-v-e-n! And even that felt too few to the eye.

As the pass protection broke down all around him, Jones was visibly under distress and looked like Sam Darnold in his “I’m seeing ghosts out there” phase. Jones didn’t look comfortable after half time adjustments either, looking over at Daboll on a fourth and short begging to come off the field before seeing his coach insist he stay out there to convert. He clearly didn’t want to be out there taking hits late into the fourth quarter.

He really struggled with throws over the middle, however. Part of that was him rushing his mechanics because of pressure but there were a couple of just flat out poor throws where he did not seem to read the defensive coverage. He looked like the quarterback we had seen before last year’s improvements, forcing things when he needed to play it safe.



  • Opening drive surgical until botched snap on third down in the red-zone resulted in a blocked field goal for a touchdown.
  • Will be seeing Micah Parsons in his dreams/nightmares all week. Spent a lot of the first half running for his life.
  • Should have been picked off for the third time just before the half trailing 26-0 after an errant throw high and over the middle.
  • Did show good chemistry with Darren Waller, who looks to be a nice fit in the scheme.


Tyrod Taylor: 2/2, 6 Yards


Running Back


Saquon Barkley: 12 Carries, 51 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 12 Yards


After a standout season in 2022, hopes were high for Saquon Barkley and those hopes still remain despite a miserable night in the trenches. Barkley was the focal point of the offense both on the ground and in the air. He saw all pass-catching opportunities until Gary Brightwell came in once the starters left the game late in the fourth quarter.

On the ground, this 9-yard gain was about as good as it got for Barkley who ran effectively on the opening drive of the game, which looked destined to end with a visit to the end zone until the botch snap sent things awry. Things for the Giants went decidedly downhill after that. The offensive line must perform better but it is encouraging that Barkley saw 16 touches and ran for over four yards a carry despite limited lanes to run in thanks to Dallas’ formidable front.


It’s hard to fully blame Barkley for the interception as he literally turned into the contact as soon as he caught the ball and went to step downfield. The important thing is that he is now seeing these opportunities, which is where his growth needs to come from.



  • Despite getting smashed by Trevon Diggs on his first target out of the backfield, resulting in the ball ballooning into the arms of Daron Bland, he looked comfortable and nifty in his other catch0-and-run chances.
  • Showed nice feet and burst on outside zone runs when he finally didn’t have to contend with defensive players in the backfield as soon as he touched the ball.


Matt Breida: 2 Carries, 9 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 0 Yards

Gary Brightwell: 1 Carry, 5 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 6 Yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Darren Waller: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 36 Yards


In a night of few positives, the return of often-injured tight end Darren Waller was the lone bright spot for this dismal Giants offense in the first half. Waller comfortably looked like the most threatening and accomplished receiver on the field and took out the “most likely to do something” participation award. Waller was the intended target for Jones’ interception, in which the quarterback tried to force the ball to Waller despite the athletic Stephen Gilmore jumping in front of it to claim it down low.

Jones and Waller connected three times on the next Giants drive, a tedious 15-play. 57-yard effort that resulted in a shanked Graham Gano missed field goal as the tempo for the night thoroughly set in. Waller was only targeted one ofther time and didn’t look to be on the field for the second half as the game was lost and the Giants protected him given his injury history.


Isaiah Hodgins: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 24 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)


Late in the fourth quarter with the game completely lost, Isaiah Hodgins hauled in a ball over the middle and sprinted into Dallas territory for what would easily have been the Giants biggest gain of the night. However, the depth receiver failed to protect the ball and coughed it up under a tackle from Diggs handing the Cowboys their third turnover of the night to complete a miserable day for the Giants receiving corps.


Lawrence Cager: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 17 Yards

Darius Slayton: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 15 Yards


Relegated to playing second fiddle to Waller, former overachiever Darius Slayton saw only limited targets and those were often swing passes to the sideline where he had been tracked and litterally had to fight tooth-and-nail to get over the line of scrimmage. Traditionally a deep threat, Slayton didn’t see any of those opportunities in this game. It is hard to see where he fits in to Daboll’s scheme.


Parris Campbell: 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 2 Yards, 1 Fumble (Recovered)


Another of the vetetran wideouts who have been drafted in to hopefully rekindle their career, Parris Campbell did see a number of passes from Jones over the middle of the field. Two were very low and hard to haul in – Campbell caught neither. He also fumbled a ball in the third quarter in a contest situation before falling on it to recover. He never looked like making a play.


Daniel Bellinger: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 1 Yard

Jalin Hyatt: 1 Target


The exciting young slot receiver was hardly seen on his NFL debut garnering just one target, a relatively simple catch on a crossing route which he dropped to add to a frustrating night all around. Hyatt was taken in the third round and had plenty of snaps but his overall attention is very disappointing on a night when they Giants couldn’t make anything happen through the air.


Sterling Shepard: 1 Target

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