LAST week we went to Washington and chalked the Redskins in their home.
That win clinched a playoff berth for us, but also renders this game against the Cowboys sort of anti-climactic. Add to that, the 12 players we put on the Covid list this week, and the volume really gets turned down on this one.
We currently occupy the 7th seed which means our likely first round opponent would be the Rams. If the 49ers lose, it could catapult us from the 7th seed, alllllllll the way up the 6th seed. In which case we’d likely draw Tampa Bay. Who cares? You? Me neither.
This week a win can’t help us and a loss can’t hurt us. Which has people of three minds:
1) Rest the starters, so that we don’t lose anyone before the playoffs.
2) Play to win, because it’s Dallas.
3) Play the starters just for a half, to practice some of our weaknesses.
I’m in camp number THREE. The stakes are no longer based on the climb to the playoffs. We’re there already. The next set of stakes are IN the playoffs. There are no stakes this week. None. So just use this week as an assessment tool/study hall.
There will be stakes again, soon enough.
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 Cowboys:
1) Understand the moment: QB Jalen Hurts is 0 – 2 vs the Cowboys, having been blown-out both times. Getting him his first win against them, while at home? That would be big for him. Huge in fact. Because calling a QB who can’t beat Dallas, “our franchise”? Nope. Can’t do it. Hurts could use the win. That said, it shouldn’t be our focus.
Seeing the big picture, should be our focus. Use this week to practice things we suck at, and get some game experience for our deep bench. Playing the starters for the full game, or until one of them is injured, would show that Head Coach Nick Sirianni doesn’t understand the moment.
2) Dig DEEP: While a win would be nice, don’t get hung-up watching the scoreboard. Instead, here’s what you should look for: QB Reid Sinnett getting some action; WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside catching passes; CB Zech McPhearson covering WR Amari Cooper; OT Andre Dillard trying to show that he can run block; LB Patrick Johnson and LB Shaun Bradley getting 10+ defensive snaps. And maybe a few runs from RB Kerryon Johnson!
Players you don’t know, making 2 to 4 nice plays after half-time. That’s the ideal situation.
3) Going Out In Style: If our starters beat-up on their back-ups, that’s a cheap win. It’s a chicken-shit way to win a game.
Ideally, when our starters leave this game, two things should be true: 1) Dallas’s starters are still out there, and 2) We have the lead. Regardless of how small it is.
That way it can (and WILL), be said that our starters could have won this game, had they played the whole thing.
Besides, Dallas has spent so much money on overpaying starters, that the depth on that team looks like high school JV squad. To stand any chance of winning, they’d have to leave their starters in. Their starters vs our back-ups? What a chicken-shit way to win.
4) Do some reckless shit: This is a game without consequences! Do some stuff that normally would get the coaching staff crucified for trying it. Stuff like:
Not punting all game long.
Giving LS Rick Lovato a couple of defensive snaps at LB.
Letting WR Greg Ward play QB for a series. (He played it in college.)
Giving LT Jordan Mailata a carry in the redzone
Just something wild and crazy. Look, this is the last home game of the year for Birds fans. It’s a night game, and it’s going to be windy and about 25 degrees. Give those fans something to remember, before our team goes on the road for possibly the next 4 games.
If we do these Four Things,
It should build confidence and loosen the entire roster up. It could act to bring more joy to the hard work, of preparing to beat playoff teams. Winning this week would be great. However, this week isn’t about that. It’s about getting everyone focused on a much bigger prize.
That having been said, the last time we faced Dallas, our coaching staff called 39 passes and just 3 handoffs. THREE run plays, all day long. As a team we ran for 64 yards. Jalen Hurts ran 9 times for 35. We had 29 yards on 3 handoffs, and still we didn’t hand the ball off more. RB Jordan Howard wasn’t even on the active roster.
That is NOT the Eagles team that the Cowboys will face this Saturday Night.
This time around, vs a defensive line built to rush the passer, our O-Line needs to practice putting foot to ass. The tone of this game will be 180 degrees from the last one. Those fuckers won’t have any idea of what hit them.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 20 – Cowboys 9
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.