The Cowboys are never boring and this week is no exception. The football world is talking about Tony Romo non-stop, as we all want to know if he’ll play or not. Jason Garrett won’t commit to any answer beyond “We’ll see.” Nor should he. His job isn’t to tell the Eagles anything that will help them. I think we’ll have to wait for an announcement from Mary Magdalene on whether Romo will play or not.
It sure sounds like Romo will miss the game. He hasn’t been to meetings or practice this week. He got an injection yesterday, but that hasn’t improved things very much. Forget the question of whether Romo can play…can he play well? In hindsight, what he did on Sunday was pretty amazing. But that was the heat of the moment. Trying to go into a game with the injury and play well from the get-go doesn’t seem very realistic.
The good news for the Eagles is that preparing for him vs Kyle Orton isn’t all that different. Both guys are pocket passers. Neither guy has an explosive arm or dynamic athletic ability. Romo is more physically gifted, but they still play a comparable game. This isn’t like Kirk Cousins vs RG3.
Big news came down today in regard to another player. Reports say that Sean Lee will miss the game. The Dallas defense is awful, but they’re really bad without him. Lee had 11 tackles and an INT in the win over the Eagles back in October. WR Dez Bryant tweaked his back on Wednesday, but expects to play Sunday.
Dallas is having a rough week, but I’m not taking that team for granted. Losing to them would be beyond horrible.
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Football Outsiders put out their DVOA rankings the other day. The Eagles check in at 8th overall. In the weighted DVOA rankings, the Eagles jump all the way up to 3rd overall. Say what? That’s right. Third. They’re ranked only behind Seattle and Carolina.
That’s another one of those rankings you hear and it makes you wonder…just how good is this team?
If the Eagles win on Sunday night, no one is going to want to face them in the playoffs.
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Who is the MVP of the Eagles defense? You could make an argument for Cedric Thornton, Connor Barwin, or DeMeco Ryans. I don’t think anyone in the secondary gets a vote.
The other possibility is Trent Cole.
It sounds weird to bring him up when all we’ve talked about is how the Eagles need a dynamic rusher at the ROLB spot, but Cole has ended up having a solid year. He’s got 8 sacks, 42 solo tackles, 3 FFs, 4 PDs and 5 TFLs.
Compare those numbers to 2012. 3 sacks, 24 solo tackles, 1 FF, 5 TFLs and no PDs.
He had different roles in different schemes, but the odd thing is that the 2012 scheme was a perfect fit for him. There are times in the new scheme when he’s dropping back. There are some other times when he shifts to DE and has to play 2-gap. Cole has embraced every challenge the coaching staff has put in front of him. Kudos to him.
Cole has benefited greatly from Chip Kelly’s sport science program. In the past, Cole faded in December. This year Cole is red hot in December. He’s got 5 sacks and a FF. He’s got 7 sacks in the last 5 games. There is a very real chance Cole could end up with 10 sacks for the season. If the Eagles get a lead and Dallas has to throw the ball, Cole will be flying upfield on every snap.
I think part of Cole’s late season explosion is that he’s getting more comfortable with the rush angles in the new defense. It takes time to figure out subtle things like that. He’s also had to adjust to his teammates and what they are going to do in terms of stunts and blitzes.
It is possible Cole comes back in 2014. I still think the Eagles need a young, dynamic rusher for ROLB, but there is something to be said for keeping Cole around to see if he can have another solid season. Cole would be used to the defense. He would be used to playing OLB. And he’d have another year of sports science stuff to get his body in primo shape.
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One thing to keep in mind as we glance ahead to 2014 is not to get caught up in emotion. Cary Williams just had a terrific game. Do we now want him back? We need to see the players finish out the regular season and hopefully go through the postseason. Then we’ll review what they did, put it in context and try to project what they’ll do in the future.
This is a tough, highly imperfect process, but it is crucial to building a strong team. Can you imagine if the Eagles had gotten rid of Nate Allen or Trent Cole last offseason? That would have made life tough. The flip side is that you don’t want to keep a veteran player a year too long. Old and slow is a good way to get killed in the NFL.