OUR win over the Bears came at a cost, as our QB Jalen, hurts with (what we’re told is) a shoulder sprain. (See wha’ aw deed there? (Yes! And then I wrote with Sharlto Copley’s accent. You’re welcome!) In any case, we toughed our way past injury, brutal cold, and an opponent that I warned last week, that we can’t let hang around.
This week’s opponent doesn’t do so well against the run. Given that running the ball is a strength of ours, it can be the Trojan Horse that we use to sneak in our passing game this week. In that way we’d exploit a glaring Cowboys weakness, while strategically attacking what would normally be a strength that they rely on.
A win here makes us 14 – 1, and uncatchable both as the winner of the NFC East, and as the #1 seed in the NFC. A win here also means, the only playoff game we’d play on the road, would be the Super Bowl. A win here would have the NFL looking at Eagles back-up QB Gardner Minshew and thinking, “Oh shit. Not again”
A loss puts us at 13 – 2 , leaving the division winner, and #1 seed in question for at least one more week. Which is why this game will be a NASTY one. Anyone who thinks they want it more than we do, is about to find themselves slumped over a fire hydrant. (Had to go old school, to paint that picture.)
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics would give our Eagles the best chance to win this game. So here are the Four Things that we need to focus on this week, versus the: Cowboys
1) Make their OLB’s Cover: It’s a given that OLB Micah Parsons is just a pass rusher. He’s a good one, but he’s exploitable in coverage and against the run. Almost to the point of being a liability. So run at him. Also have TE Dallas Goedert motion to Parson’s outside hip, so that when he pass rushes, he leaves Goedert open at the snap. Easy money until the Cowboys make Parsons cover.
The other OLB Anthony Barr doesn’t see as many snaps due to Nickel and Dime packages, but with his his age (30), weight (250), and injury history to his right leg, he’s no match for either WR Quez Watkins or WR Zach Pascal. Line them up on his outside leg and run him out of the box. Or even better, sub him out for smaller.
2) Punish the Blitz: The Cowboys like to walk S Donovan Wilson up into the ‘A’ and ‘B’ gaps to let him rush the QB practically unblocked. They’ve gotten him 4 sacks and 8 QB hits off of this tactic. Said the Little Tailor “Ahhh, but I know a trick worth two of that!”
With Hurts out of the game, it’s an automatic that hand-offs are back on the menu. So use play-action. No! Better yet, abuse play-action. Get the blitzer to honor the RB, so that Minshew has a second longer to let a receiver come uncovered on a quick route up the seam. Or put RB Miles Sanders in motion for a Quick Screen pass.
3) Take Away the Quick Stuff: Of course CB’s Darius “Big Play” Slay and James Bradberry will play aggressively, but NCB Avonte Maddox needs to delay receivers releases into their patterns. Give no quick timing throws to QB Dak Prescott. We don’t have to shut the receivers down, just throw Prescott off.
Get their routes unfolding at a slower rate, than Prescott’s muscle memory. That doesn’t mean slow the game down for him! The pass rush is still coming at full speed! Due to a rash of interceptions, he’s said last week that he has to do a better job of assessing risk. Get him holding the ball a little longer, and get some sack/fumbles.
4) Squeeze and Occupy the Gaps: This game will be won or lost at the Line Of Scrimmage. We don’t need to tackle their RB’s for a loss on every play. However, if we get bodies in the gaps and narrow run holes, (that goes for the ‘C’ gaps too!) it gives us time to get population to the football, and slow their run game down.
We don’t need to shut down their run, just make it unreliable. The more bodies we can put in gaps, the cleaner MLB T.J. Edwards stays. So take the run off the table and force Prescott to have to carry his team.
If the Eagles do these Four Things, then we’ll be virtually impossible to beat. That being said…
This is going to be a physical game, since both teams need the win. We need it to be able to rest players, and maybe practice new concepts for the playoffs. A win allows us to give some guys a day of two off. Just like Spring baseball.
The Cowboys on the other hand, need this game to have a mathematical chance at the East’s 2022 banner. A loss here will lock them in as the 5th seed. Yet they couldn’t afford to rest starters, with Prescott’s interception issue not being resolved. They need more reps to work on what’s wrong with their passing game.
So the Cowboys have to play the next two games hard, and then play Wild Card week. If we start the pounding on Saturday, they should be fall apart tender by the time we see them in four to five weeks. So let’s get to tenderizing!
Oh, and expect a nail-biter.
Prediction: EAGLES 21 – Cowboys 20
WARNING: 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 Four Things as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how this game went.
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