LAST week we dominated and still lost. Not happy about that, but our defense took a team that had scored 41 the week before, and held them to 17. The Atlanta team that we held to two FG’s in Week One, just put 25 on Tampa Bay. We allowed just 11.5 points per game, vs two talented offenses, led by QB’s who have started Super Bowls. (Both also had leads, before suffering horrifying collapses.)
Our opponent this week is giving up 24 per game, despite producing 6 turnovers in two weeks. That sounds like a leaky defense to me! Hey, Leaky Deefie, this is QB Jalen Hurts. As in, Jalen hurts shitty defenses like yourself.
Last week’s loss took us from the top of the division, to third place (actually tied for second) in the division. Beating an NFC East opponent would move us up that ladder. If nature takes it’s course and Buffalo beats Washington, we’d be alone in 1st. If Washington wins, we’d be tied with them for the top spot. In any case, we need this win.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Dallas Cowboys:
1) Erupt, disrupt, corrupt: As efficient as the Cowboys offense is looking right now, it might be hard to believe that they have a glaring Achilles heel. BUT THEY DO! Whether it’s QB Dak Prescott stepping up into the pocket, or RB Ezekiel Elliott inside running, their best offense isn’t from Tackle to Tackle. It’s only from Guard to Guard.
Crashing the ‘A” gaps on either side of C Tyler Biadasz, will spoil their offense at the source. It doesn’t allow Prescott to step up, and doesn’t allow Elliott any room to build momentum. Let’s get Prescott running. Not bootlegging. Running. Between his rebuilt ankle, and his questionable shoulder, let’s see what his delivery looks like when he’s on the move.
2) Exploit the youth: The Cowboys defense allows about as many points (24.0) as they score (24.5). Their opponents complete 69% of their passes, and average 4.5 yards per run. Dallas also misses tackles at a rate of 11.9%. (For perspective, our Eagles miss 4.3%). Their defense is young, and under intense stress covering for injury losses.
We should use that stress to implode the unit. In the last two games, the Cowboys have struggled vs pocket QB’s. Jalen Hurts ability to run, could overwhelm Dallas’s fragile system. We need to see Hurts on some misdirection bootlegs, where he’s getting the ball to TE’s and RB’s. That way we get to eat up clock, and OUR Defense stays fresh.
3) Clear A Run Lane: Operation C.A.R.L.! If Dallas wants to start a 245 pound rookie LB at DE, against RT Lane Johnson, give’ em the match-up they want. Run the ball early to the right, to take advantage of the physical mismatch. Beat on the rookie. Lay him out a few times. Welcome him to the NFL, and take the chase right out of his legs.
Then in the second half, the Read Option and Screens will be nails in their coffin. Close your eyes and see a Cowboys blitz, countered with a RB Screen. Touchdown Sanders! Envision the argument on their sideline. Wait what?! Did Prescott just shove DE Randy Gregory? Oh my god, Randy hit him with a helmet! POPCORN! WE NEED POPCORN!
4) Give Them Doubts: We play Cover Two. So here and there, we can afford to gamble. Early in the game, our corners need to jump a couple of Prescott’s passes. Doesn’t matter if they’re complete or not. A couple of near picks, will affect him for the rest of the game. Interceptions would be great, but attempting them is more important.
We want Prescott looking for that next jump. Get him to pat the ball an extra time or two before releasing it. Get him thinking, not playing. If we can slow his release, it allows our pass rushers more time to get to him. More importantly, it takes their passing offense out of the rhythm they’ve had these last two games.
If we do these Four Things,
Offensively, if we follow FT, the Eagles would rule time of possession in the first half, keeping our Defense fresh for the second half. Defensively, if we follow FT, the bottom will drop out of the Cowboys offense. If that happens, it will strand their defense on the field. As a soft defense, we need them be on the field as much as possible.
Though the Eagles will be without DE Brandon Graham, RG Brandon Brooks, LT Jordan Mailata, and FS Rodney McLeod, this still feels like the Eagles are about to blow the Cowboys out, this Sunday.
Keep in mind, I don’t go around predicting blowouts, but this feels like the Cowboys are walking into a trap. Eagles fans just came back last week, and yet the chatter around this game seems oddly muted. There’s a stillness around this game. It feels almost unnatural. I can’t explain it, but that’s how it feels.
I don’t expect a close game.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 30 – Cowboys 16
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.