THIS is a mid-season battle for first place, on the road, against the team currently holding that top spot in the NFC East. The Eagles (and if they’re wise, the Cowboys) have to approach this game with a playoff mindset, because this game could be as close as the loser will get to postseason play this year.
Some of us fans have been discussing a growing gut feeling shared among fans about this game. That feeling is that if the Eagles win, the Front Office will let it ride and we’ll chase the division crown this year. However, if we lose the F.O. will focus on the re-tooling of the team. There’s no smoking gun in terms of evidence, but we fans have been talking.
Our Defense and Special Teams have kept us in the last two games, but that won’t be enough this week. Our Offense must show up again this week. We don’t need the Offense from Weeks 1 and 2. We need the Offense that has learned the lessons from Weeks 5, 6 and 7.
In those last 3 games, the Eagles have a Four Things score of 4 out of 12. We were 2/4 vs the Vikings; 2/4 vs the Redskins; and 0/4 vs the Lions. That sort of effort (Is that okay? Can we call that “effort”?), won’t be good enough this week.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to look for, Week 8 versus the Cowboys :
1) Hit the QB. Dak Prescott has only been sacked 9 times and hit 22. Only the Oakland Raiders boast better numbers those categories. At first it seems like Dallas’ offensive line is doing a great job. The reality is they haven’t faced many real pass rushing threats so far. It’s very easy to make good decisions as a QB with no one in your face. So we need to change that this week.
2) Lock down the run and crossing routes. We need our Front Seven to step it up this week. That means that our DE’s have to keep contain, and our DT’s have to keep MLB Jordan “Cowboy Killer” Hicks free to flow to the ball carrier vs the run, and drop into coverage to make plays like this:
3) Settle the hash. Get the ball to TE Zach Ertz in the middle of the field. I’ve been saying this since The 12. This would open up the entire Offense and make life easier on QB Carson Wentz.
4) Run the ball. A LOT. RB Ryan Mathews has been effective when he gets the chance to carry the ball. But more than that, Dallas’ reliance on the run, means they need to win the time of possession. If we run the ball a lot and take time of possession from them, it forces them to have to rush things on offense.
We can win this game, but we have to take it, to do so. Dallas plays a style that is no nonsense at it’s core, despite the pansy-ish way they execute it. We won’t win this game by trying to be cute. We have to take it to them old school.