Game Preview – DAL at PHI

Posted: December 21st, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The 2019 season basically boils down to one game and this is it. If Dallas wins, the Eagles start thinking about the offseason. That would lead to a lot of unpleasant discussions.

If the Eagles win, they seize control of the NFC East. All they would have to do is beat the Giants in the season finale to win the division and host a playoff game.

Life would be good.

Both teams come into this game at 7-7. Both are talented and both are flawed. Someone has to step up and win this game. Right?

Dallas played their best game of the year last week, beating the Rams 44-21. Dallas ran for 263 yards and limited the Rams to just 22 yards on the ground. The Cowboys dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They manhandled the Rams.

That win should have Dallas feeling really good about themselves. At the same time, it came on the heels of a three-game losing streak. Going further, Dallas had lost 4 of 5, with the only win being a close game against the Lions and their backup QB. So which do put more stock into, the Cowboys big win or that long stretch of bad football?

The Dallas run game was erratic during their struggles. The Rams have a mediocre run defense so that matchup worked well. Dallas could use their strength against a weakness. That won’t be the case this weekend.

Ezekiel Elliott has run well against the Eagles. Dallas put up 189 rushing yards in the first meeting this year. The Eagles were missing DT Tim Jernigan and LB Nigel Bradham, making the middle of the defense vulnerable.

The Eagles defense will be close to full strength this time around. We aren’t sure about DE Derek Barnett, but Jim Schwartz should have more than enough talent to handle Elliott. The Eagles will bring the NFL’s #3 run defense into the game. They don’t need to shut Zeke down. They need to keep him under control and mix in a few TFL’s to put the Cowboys offense into tough situations.

If Dallas controls the line of scrimmage and runs for 180 yards, the Eagles will lose this game.

I feel confident that the defense will keep Elliott under control. Dak Prescott is the one who scares me.

One of the reasons the Eagles defend the run so well is that the players sell out to get to the RB. If they do that on Sunday and Prescott keeps the ball, he can run for some good gains. We saw Dwayne Haskins burn the defense last week and he runs like an aircraft carrier. Prescott is a gifted athlete who can deliver big plays with his legs.

The bigger concern is Prescott as a passer. He has lit up the Eagles secondary in recent meetings, especially when targeting Amari Cooper. Can Schwartz and his DBs find an answer for this? As with Elliott, this isn’t about shutting them down. The Eagles need to get some key stops and limit their production. Jalen Mills will battle vs Cooper. Mills is fully healthy and can make plays on the ball.

Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and the rest of the Eagles DL must come up big in this game. They were unable to get regular pressure last week and it hurt the defense. That has to change. If Prescott has a clean pocket, he’ll find someone open or be able to run if he chooses to.

It will be interesting to see what Schwartz does. Blitzing Prescott did not work well in the first meeting. Schwartz likes to blitz mobile QBs to limit their rushing lanes. The problem comes when the blitz is picked up successfully and the QB then can find open receivers.

Does Schwartz play man or zone? The Eagles are better at man coverage, but that can be dangerous against a mobile QB. Does Schwartz have some schematic wrinkle he can use in this game?

If you remember the first game, Orlando Scandrick was terrible in the slot. The Eagles now have Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc for that role. That’s a big upgrade. I also expect to see better LB play. Having Bradham back helps and the young guys (Gerry, Edwards) are better now than they were in the first meeting.

The Eagles offense had some real issues in the first game.

10 points
283 total yards
4 turnovers

It is easy to focus on the fact the Eagles will go into this game with an incredibly young and inexperienced WR corps. In the first game, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins combined for 4 catches for 62 yards. The passing game struggled mightily.

I think Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Rob Davis will post better numbers and the offense will play better. To be fair, that’s setting the bar low.

The RBs did virtually nothing in the passing game in the October loss. That has to change this time around. Dallas does have athletic LBs, but the Eagles must find a way to get the ball to the RBs, whether on screens, swing passes or other routes. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott must get the ball in space.

Carson Wentz is playing better than he was in the first meeting. He’s won consecutive games with late TD drives and has to be feeling pretty confident right now. Wentz must protect the ball. He also needs to get more production from his WRs early in the game. He can’t wait until desperation time to get them involved.

Protecting Wentz will be a key. Big V gets another start at RT and facing DeMarcus Lawrence is going to be a huge challenge. The Eagles will chip on him and double him at times, but they’ll also let Big V block him 1-on-1 at times. V must play well.

Picking up the blitz is huge. LB Jaylon Smith has 2.5 sacks this year. DB Jourdan Lewis has 4 sacks. If you block the front four, those guys will fly up the middle or in from the slot to make plays.

Dallas also has Michael Bennett as part of the DL this time around. He is dangerous off the edge and up the middle. I’m sure he’d like to let the Eagles know they made a mistake in trading him back in March.

The Eagles offense has averaged 28 points over the past three games. The coaches have figured some things out. The players are stepping up and making plays. Wentz is coming up big in key situations. I think the offense can keep the trend going this week. I expect them to move the ball and score points.

It is absolutely critical that Wentz and the skill players protect the ball. They are not good enough to overcome turnovers against a team like Dallas.

What about intangibles?

The Eagles have home field advantage. Sort of. They are 4-3 at The Linc this year. Dallas is 3-4 on the road. So this isn’t the kind of advantage it might have been in the past. Still, the crowd can be somewhat of a factor and the Eagles can use every advantage possible.

This game could decide the future of Jason Garrett. A loss guarantees that he is gone. A win would help his case to stick around, but even that may not be enough. How will that affect him and his players?

Doug Pederson doesn’t have to worry about job security anytime soon, but a loss would be bad. It might increase the numbers of changes that will be coming in the offseason. It would also burn through a lot of the goodwill that Pederson earned by winning the Super Bowl.

Which coach can push the right buttons?

Which team has veteran leaders who can push the right buttons?

I do like the fact that the Eagles are now underdogs. They are playing with a spirit and an energy that was lacking prior to recent games.

The Eagles will win this game if the offense can feed the RBs and TEs and get them to make plays. If the WRs make a few plays to help the cause. The offense must protect the ball and convert in the Red Zone. And Carson Wentz needs to play like a star QB. The defense must be tough and disciplined. They must tackle well and get pressure on Prescott. Coming up with a couple of takeaways would make a huge difference.

Dallas wins if Zeke has a good game and the OL controls the LOS. Amari Cooper makes key catches and continues to torch the Eagles secondary. Dak Prescott is smart and accurate. The Dallas defense must tackle well in space. They need to read screens and fakes and not be caught off-guard. They need to pressure Wentz and see if he will turn the ball over.

It sure feels like the second option is more likely.

But that is the beauty of football. Who thought Wentz would be a better late-game QB with Boston Scott and Greg Ward than Jeffery and Agholor? We really don’t know what to expect from this Eagles team right now.

Sunday will be a day of answers.

Let’s hope they are good ones.

_


2 Comments on “Game Preview – DAL at PHI”

  1. 1 The Linc - Eagles locker room is rallying around Carson Wentz - Philly's Top Five said at 11:09 PM on December 21st, 2019:

    […] Game Preview – DAL at PHI – Iggles BlitzThe Eagles will win this game if the offense can feed the RBs and TEs and get them to make plays. If the WRs make a few plays to help the cause. The offense must protect the ball and convert in the Red Zone. And Carson Wentz needs to play like a star QB. The defense must be tough and disciplined. They must tackle well and get pressure on Prescott. Coming up with a couple of takeaways would make a huge difference. Dallas wins if Zeke has a good game and the OL controls the LOS. Amari Cooper makes key catches and continues to torch the Eagles secondary. Dak Prescott is smart and accurate. The Dallas defense must tackle well in space. They need to read screens and fakes and not be caught off-guard. They need to pressure Wentz and see if he will turn the ball over. It sure feels like the second option is more likely. […]

  2. 2 Eagles News: Philadelphia’s locker room is rallying around Carson Wentz – Bleeding Green Nation | Unhinged Group said at 7:31 PM on December 22nd, 2019:

    […] Game Preview – DAL at PHI – Iggles BlitzThe Eagles will win this game if the offense can feed the RBs and TEs and get them to make plays. If the WRs make a few plays to help the cause. The offense must protect the ball and convert in the Red Zone. And Carson Wentz needs to play like a star QB. The defense must be tough and disciplined. They must tackle well and get pressure on Prescott. Coming up with a couple of takeaways would make a huge difference. Dallas wins if Zeke has a good game and the OL controls the LOS. Amari Cooper makes key catches and continues to torch the Eagles secondary. Dak Prescott is smart and accurate. The Dallas defense must tackle well in space. They need to read screens and fakes and not be caught off-guard. They need to pressure Wentz and see if he will turn the ball over. It sure feels like the second option is more likely. […]