The Eagles face the Cowboys in a few hours and as the hype for the game grows, it led us to thinking..just which position will be the most clinical in the matchup?
I know what you’re thinking. How can the cornerback position be one of the most important when Dallas are without their key receiver? Well, the answer is simple. There has been a lot of media pressure on Billy Davis this past week following an underwhelming performance from Byron Maxwell. The question is, how can the CB’s rebound? They have the perfect stage to make an impact. It’s the home opener against the teams biggest rival who are without their main receiver. A good performance here will re-establish trust in this Billy Davis scheme..but if guys like Maxwell or the rotational Nickel Backs fail to establish an early dominance against one of the weaker Receiving cores in the league..then there is a problem. Tony Romo has the ability to either be an MVP quarterback or a complete sponge. Which Romo we see in a few hours could be largely dependant on the Corner pressure. They have to get more physical..last week they rarely placed their hands on opposing receivers, it will be interesting to see which steps have been taken to fix the issues from Monday.
Kiko Alonso had the perfect Eagles debut against Atlanta. The Eagles linebackers now come up against one of the best O-Lines in the league. With Romo now limited for options, the Cowboys may be forced to experiment with short/screen passes and utilise Joseph Randle a little more. If that’s the case, the linebackers have to be smart. A poor performance here could see some shprt yard situations extended into big gains. Establishing early intimidation is crucial and shouldn’t be a problem. If Barwin and company can hit Romo a few times in front of the legions of Eagles fans, forcing a crucial fumble or a sack later on will be so much easier. You can’t afford to give Romo time in the pocket and with an O-line so tough..it will be tricky to get to the Cowboys Quarterback..but if anyone can do it,it’s one of the most explosive linebacking cores in the league. Blitzing will be key and we already saw against Atlanta just how effective we are at the position and how deep the depth runs…a big game from the linebackers is going to arguably decide the outcome of this game.
Eight carries against the Falcons marked the lowest number of carries Murray had seen since week three of his rookie season. But he now also has the longest streak in the NFL for scoring at least one rushing touchdown a game. Bradford looked electric in the final two Quarters on Monday, but the Eagles failed to get the running game going. However, as deeply analysed here, the unit was still dangerously effective. Against the Cowboys though, things have to change. The O-Line has to create more holes for Murray to run through against his former team.
With Matthews, Murray and Sproles all picking up large numbers in the receiving yard column on Monday, we can expect much of the same in a few hours..but that’s not to say that it’s satisfactory. The running backs are effectively the heart and soul of this Offense.
If you can’t run the ball for a 4 yard gain and be back at the line of scrimmage 6 seconds later to wear down the Defense…they won’t get tired. Which is EXACTLY what we saw against Atlanta..it took almost three quarters for signs of fatigue and conditioning to shine through. The Eagles have to wear down the Cowboys from the get go and find creative ways to utilise all three running backs to keep the team confused. An inability to do this will only create pressure on Bradford and his receivers and potentially cost the team some easy first downs..like we saw with the 4th & 1 situation recently.
Normally Chip would strive at a 4th & 1 when behind..especially with such a versatile backfield, but instead due to the inefficiencies of the O-Line he decided to go for a field goal which was later missed. The running backs are the key to the game on the Offense..Bradford can’t do it all on his own.