Yet again, the Eagles head into another “must win” type of matchup. The fact that the NFC East has been playing inconsistently as a whole means the Eagles still have a chance to win the division. However, they have a lot of work to do, and the first hurdle is taking down the Cowboys this Sunday.
The Cowboys come in at 3-3 and are a very hard team to get a good handle on. They’ve looked very good at times, but they can’t seem to play consistently at a high level.
Andy Reid has been flawless after the bye week while the head coach of the Eagles, but they’ll have to rely on a lot more than history to get a win on Sunday. Here are five important keys to beating the Cowboys on Sunday night.
1. Shutting Down DeMarco Murray
Was Demarco Murray’s performance against the Rams a fluke? I don’t think so, but I suppose we’ll find out for sure on Sunday night. This isn’t to say I believe he’ll put up another 250+ yard performance. However, he was a running back I thought was very talented coming out of college. In fact, I thought he’d be a great fit with the Eagles.
One thing is for certain though. The Eagles have had their fair share of troubles defending the run. They had success against the Redskins, but it draws some scrutiny. Did they make good adjustments or did they just take advantage of a beat up line?
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but at the end of the day, the Eagles need to shut down Murray and whoever else the Cowboys lineup in the backfield.
2. Healthy Dose of LeSean McCoy
This should be a no-brainer every week, but for some reason it doesn’t always happen. Does anyone not think that LeSean McCoy is an absolute beast? If you don’t, I’d love to know why.
Last game, we saw a healthy dose of McCoy. End results? A ton of production, and it came to the surprise of no one.
McCoy continues to improve as a rusher, and despite the Eagles seeming to set it up less lately, he’s also great in the screen game out of the backfield.
If the Eagles can get McCoy going early, it should make the defenders think twice and open up some opportunities for Michael Vick to throw the ball.
3. Win the Turnover Battle
This has been a big issue for the Eagles this season, but it was the key to their victory against the Redskins two Sunday’s ago.
Although they haven’t been creating nearly the number of turnovers I would have liked to see, the more concerning issue has been the number of times they’ve turned the ball over.
The blame here can be spread pretty wide, so I’m not going to point out any one individual. As a whole, the team needs to do a better job of protecting the ball. Whether it be fumbles or interceptions, there have been a lot of mental errors by the Eagles this year.
Come Sunday against the Cowboys, one mental error resulting in a turnover could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
4. Pressure Tony Romo Early and Often
Tony Romo has already voiced his opinion about what he thinks the Eagles defense will do. The Eagles haven’t been blitzing all that much this season, but Romo believes that will change on Sunday night.
With the Eagles having success pressuring Romo in the past, the Cowboys quarterback fully believes he’ll see a lot of pressure from the Eagles defense. What we won’t know until Sunday is whether or not Romo’s belief will be true.
Ideally, you’d like to see the Eagles front four get a lot of pressure on Romo so they don’t have to rely on the blitz. Having Trent Cole returning to the lineup should help with that. However, the interesting thing to watch will be what the Eagles do if the Cowboys offensive line is minimizing the impact of the Eagles defensive line.
We know that if you can continually get pressure on Romo he’ll start to make mistakes. The Eagles haven’t blitzed that much, but this may be a good time to throw in some new blitz packages.
Dallas has a lot of talented receivers, and Romo is a pretty good quarterback when he has time. To me, you have to get after Romo and make him beat you under pressure. The Eagles have all these talented corners, so let’s see them go out there and make some place.
If the Eagles can get pressure on Romo throughout the game, I think we’ll see him turn the ball over a couple of times.
5. Contain Jason Witten
This is one that definitely is easier said than done. The Eagles have struggled against tight ends for a long time and talented ones give them absolute fits. Jason Witten definitely fits that bill.
He has been Romo’s favorite target this season with X catches for X yards, and he has a touchdown in each of his last three games.
I’m not sure how the Eagles will choose to cover him, but they’ve had plenty of time to think about it. Personally, I think they’ll probably look to cover him in a variety of different ways. He may square off against Nnamdi Asomugha at times, a different nickel corner at times, a safety at times, and unfortunately a linebacker or two at times.
Whoever ends up covering him on any given play will have a large responsibility. If Romo and Witten get into a rhythm during the game, it could be disastrous for the Eagles.