Everything is sunny in Philadelphia. The best record in the NFL, arguably the most valuable player and of course one of the toughest defenses. To add that extra Cherry on the Cake, the Dallas Cowboys are hurting. No Ezekiel Elliott, no Tyron Smith. The pressure is piling on Dak Prescott and while in theory that sounds like he’s walking over Shark infested waters, the Eagles aren’t taking it for granted.
Dallas are in a must win spot. A loss to the Eagles will drop them four wins behind the top of the NFC East and leave them scrambling in the wildcard race. It’s a must win for the pride of Mississippi State…and the Eagles can’t afford to get complacent.
Prescott may not have that same dazzle he did when he first entered the league, but teams now have an entire catalogue of NFL tape on him. His tendencies, strengths and weaknesses are now all game planned for. Without two of the key cogs in the Cowboys offense, Prescott faces a similar challenge to the now which Wentz endured one year ago. No franchise tackle and a complete lack of rushing help.
With 16 touchdowns and 1,994 yards to his name this season, Prescott cannot be overlooked. The Eagles and Cowboys may well be the bitterest of rivals, but the respect shown for Prescott still shines through, as it will on Sunday.
“I didn’t work him out, but we had him into the building.” Frank Reich said after being asked how attentive the Eagles have been to Prescott’s progress since coming out of college. |I forget how many quarterbacks we brought in that year. But he was maybe five quarterbacks that we brought into the building that year, and he was one of them. I mean, you can ask anybody, I had very, very high grades on Dak in every aspect, from his college tape — I thought his college tape was really, really good. I really liked the way he threw the ball. His timing and anticipation. When he came in here and we sat down and interviewed him, a hard-core interview as far as digging down into protections and Xs and Os, and pass concepts and what his understanding of the pass game was and protections, it was really high in all areas. Then you could just tell he had that X-factor as far as natural leadership ability. So I enjoyed getting to know him a little bit.”
Reich will get a chance to know Dak even more when the two teams clash on Sunday night in what promises to be a thrilling matchup. The Eagles will be focusing on forcing the second-year quarterback into as many pressured situations as possible…and with the performance of their offensive line, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
There is of course the Elephant in the room. Injured All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith’s replacement, Chaz Green, allowed six of the Falcons seven sacks against Dallas on Sunday…highlighting just how devastating the loss is going to be. It’s not like life is going to get any easier for the Cowboys, who now face one of the most tenacious pass rushes in the league. That doesn’t mean that Prescott’s ability to evade the pressure that the Birds look to bring has been looked over.
“I’ve been around the NFL for a pretty long time now. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better thrower on the run than Dak Prescott.” Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters. “He can throw, scrambling to his left. He can throw scrambling to his right. There are not many quarterbacks that can do that. He can threaten the whole field on the run. He doesn’t have to reset the throw, and he’s very accurate on the run”.
The Eagles have faced their fair share of quarterback challenges this season. From the mobile Cam Newton, to a natural pocket passer in Eli Manning, the Birds’ have seen an array of talent…but Prescott does bring a lot to the table, as does Carson Wentz. If the Eagles are to overcome Dallas, somehow limiting Prescott will be of the upmost importance. It doesn’t matter how…but just keeping him contained will be the key on Sunday night. Something Schwartz was quick to allude to.
“Inside the pocket, outside the pocket, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you’re getting stops. He can do damage in the pocket. He can make all those throws. I think there is a combination of coverage and pass rush that would have to go hand in hand, and even pressure. All three of those things have to go hand in hand.”
As the Eagles seek out the winning formula against a wounded offense, the pressure is piling on Prescott to put the team on his back. It will be down to the Birds to only add to that weight and go one step further into securing their NFC East crown.
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports