ONE step at a time. The temptation is to talk playoffs, seeding, bye weeks and home field advantage. Fact is, even with a win and sole position atop the NFC East, we’ll still be just 4 – 3, with 9 more games to go.
So let’s pump the brakes, do what Doug said, and focus on going 1 – 0 this week. Then we’ll take the rest as it comes.
Remember being 1 – 2? Remember when the Cowboys were 3 – 0? Funny thing is, that was the same week. After that point, The Eagles battled back and climbed to 3 – 2. During that same period opposing teams got behind the curtain of the Great and Powerful Cowboys, and exposed them. Dallas fell to 3 – 2.
Due to NFL tie-break procedure, the Eagles ended up as the “technical” head of the division. Both teams subsequently falling to 3 – 3 the following week, meant that there was no change in the pecking order.
This strikes me as weird, given that Dallas has two division wins to our one, and a higher conference win percentage (.500 to .400). Whatever. Doesn’t matter. After this week one of us will have beaten the other, making one team 4 – 3 and the other 3 – 4. There’ll be no need to split hairs, or cut farts into quarters.
Those are the stakes. This is what we’re playing for.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Cowboys :
1) Play some Cover Two:
Last week, 4 touchdowns were thrown on 3 different CB’s. Three of those plays featured no deep Safety help. We have 12 DB’s on this team. Seems to me, before we bulldoze 20% of the roster, maybe we should try to see if there’s another way to squeeze talent out of at least a few of these guys.
In any case last week the Vikings handed the NFL a blueprint of how to dismantle our defense. We would be foolish not to throw a serious curve this week. We don’t need to stay in Cover Two, but for 2nd and 7 or longer, we should show that or some Tampa Two.
2) Early misdirection/Late power: Dallas prides it’s defense on it’s speed. So why not turn their strength into a weakness?
Early in the game, hit them with play-action bootlegs to the right, so that QB Carson Wentz can load up for deep passes, or easy runs of 5 yards here and there. Middle Screens to RB Miles Sanders would be a great addition. So would Slot WR Nelson Agholor, running Drag routes back to the strongside, in the shallow area cleared out by the TE.
Later in the game when the Cowboys are gassed from all the chasing we made them do earlier, bludgeon their quicker edge players with power running. On 2nd and less than 5 situations, use play-action and go deep to the Slot or TE.
3) Stop the run: This one doesn’t just mean the Cowboys RB, it means their QB too. If he wants to become a runner, present him with an exorbitant price tag.
4) Someone step up: This game needs an Eagles WR not named Alshon Jeffery to catch at least 4 passes. If Jeffery wants to have a big game, great! But he needs help on that other perimeter
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
The Eagles will play a ton of Single-high coverage, because they hate me, and DC Jim Schwartz has a learning disability. Noise will be a factor only briefly. Once the Eagles get the lead, the crowd will quiet down.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 27 – Cowboys 24.