Game Review – DAL 40, PHI 34

Posted: December 29th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Game Review – DAL 40, PHI 34

We didn’t get the outcome we wanted on Christmas Eve, but we did get a compelling game and one that could help the Eagles down the road. Dallas won 40-34. They needed a lot of things to go their way to pull off that win. I think anyone objectively looking at the two teams can see the Eagles are the superior group.

Still, there are issues to be addressed. The defense gave up 419 yards and 40 points. Jonathan Gannon’s unit has been outstanding this year, but they have benefited from playing some pedestrian offenses. Dallas offered a chance to go against a dynamic unit and show what they could do.

It wasn’t pretty.

The run defense was good. The pass defense was not. Dak Prescott went 27 for 35 for 347 yards. He threw the ball all over and made play after play. That kind of defense will not cut it in the postseason.

The offense hurt the defense with 4 turnovers. But that’s when you need the defense to make a stand and help the situation. Instead, the Eagles gave up 20 points off turnovers. They couldn’t make up for the offense’s mistakes.

Losing Avonte Maddox hurt the defense. It sure felt like Gannon had him as a key part of the gameplan. Josiah Scott replaced Maddox and things went downhill.

The coaches and players have lots of mistakes to correct. They can study the tape and make plans for what to do differently in the future. Dallas really challenged the Eagles. They exposed some issues. There is still time to fix those issues.

The offense can study the turnovers and figure out what they would do differently. They can also look at that final drive and figure out what went wrong. They marched down to the red zone quickly and the drive stalled out there. The Eagles might face a similar situation in the playoffs so it would help to know what could be done better.

This was a frustrating loss. The Eagles sloppiness cost them. Give Dallas credit for making some key plays, but a lot of the loss is on the Eagles themselves. I think losing will motivate them and help keep them fired up. Hopefully it will have them locked in this week.

The worst part of the game is the injuries to Avonte Maddox and Lane Johnson. Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll be able to come back in the postseason.


Nick Sirianni did a good job in this game. He was aggressive, just as if Hurts was playing. That’s a good message to send to your team and your backup QB. The one questionable decision Sirianni made came right at the end of the game. The Eagles got down to the 20-yard line and hustled to the LOS after a completion. I thought they should call their last timeout, but Sirianni had Minshew spike the ball and save the timeout.

When asked about this on Monday, Sirianni said he would do this again. He felt sacrificing the down was worth it to save the timeout. The offense could attack the whole field. That is logical. The downside is that you lose a down, which ended up costing the Eagles. There are no guarantees things would have been different had they called the timeout.

Sirianni didn’t say this, but I also wonder if he wanted to keep the timeout in case of a sack. The Eagles had a backup at RT and Dallas knew they were passing. One sack and the game is over or close to it.

His best decision in the game was going for it on 4th down with the game tied at 27 in the 4th quarter. It would have been easy to settle for the FG. Sirianni was aggressive and the play turned into a TD.

The offensive staff did an excellent job of putting together a gameplan that attacked Dallas weaknesses and put Minshew in position to succeed. The play they called on 4th down was perfect. Diggs bit on Goedert’s route and Smith was wide open for an easy TD. They bated Diggs on the first drive of the game and got a 48-yard gain on a slant ‘n go. The coaches did a really good job.

Jonathan Gannon did not have his best day. The Eagles focused on stopping the run and did a good job of that. However, CeeDee Lamb ate them alive in the first half. Gannon had no answers. He adjusted at halftime and that slowed Lamb down. The rest of the Dallas offense kept right on making plays.


442 yards

8 of 14 on 3rd downs

2 of 3 on 4th downs

3 of 5 in the red zone

7 plays of 20 or more yards (2 of 40 or more)

Running in the red zone not as effective without Hurts. That was one area where I think his absence was felt. I also didn’t like all the run plays when the Eagles were around the 10-yard line. I would have mixed in more throws before 3rd down.


Gardner Minshew got his first start of the season. Heck, this was his first real playing time. He’d previously been in for the end of a couple of games. Minshew didn’t look rusty. He finished the game 24-40-355 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.

He played well, but got a lot of help. The coaches called a really good game and the receivers were outstanding, aside from Quez. The OL kept Dallas from sacking Minshew. All of that helped the offense to score 27 points, gain 442 yards and go without punting all game long.

Minshew certainly should get credit for his part in that. He made some good throws and generally got the ball out quickly. He looked good throwing slants. He gave his receivers a chance to make plays (and they did). He spread the ball around, not locking in on one guy or one side. He didn’t let mistakes eat at his confidence. He provided good energy and leadership. I loved his confidence. He didn’t play or act like a backup. Minshew did a good job of moving in the pocket and avoiding pressure at times.

But you also saw him limitations. He took off running on the opening drive and was stopped for a short gain. He looked painfully slow compared to Jalen Hurts. Minshew had Quez wide open for a TD and overthrew him. He was a bit late on the sluggo to AJ or that might have been a TD. He didn’t always throw well on the move. Neither of the INTs was an ideal throw. There were a couple of other throws that were risky. Minshew panicked on the final play. He had more time than he realized and AJ was open over the middle. Ugh.

Good backup? Yes. Should the other 31 teams think of him as a starter? Probably not. I just don’t see Minshew as someone you build a team around. He is a high quality backup. After watching other backups struggle this weekend (Nick Foles, Trace McSorely, Malik Willis, Taylor Heinicke), you can see Minshew is valuable. I’m sure he’ll want to compete for a starting job, but if he’s willing to stay in Philly, the Eagles would be lucky to have him.


Miles Sanders was 21-65 on the ground. He had some good runs, especially to the outside. All of that was overshadowed by his fumble at the 2:19 mark of the game. That changed things in a huge way. Dallas got the ball at the 21 and was able to add a FG to extend their lead to 6. If Sanders doesn’t turn that over, the Eagles only need a FG and they have plenty of time. Brutal mistake.

Kenny Gainwell was 4-17 as a runner and 4-41 as a receiver. He blocked well in some pass pro situations. I liked his RAC skills as a receiver. Had a couple of good runs in the red zone that set up a TD.

Boston Scott didn’t get a carry or catch. They tried to hand him the ball on a run and Scott dropped it. The fumble is credited to Minshew since he was the last player with control of the ball, but it sure looked like Scott’s fault. Bad play.


DeVonta Smith might have played his best game, going 8-113-2. He’s put up better numbers, but the quality of the catches and the fact they came in a big game makes them all the more impressive. My words won’t do these catches justice.

He’s the #2 receiver on this team, but is still a special dude. He made multiple sensational catches. Smith might lack ideal size, but he’s tough as nails. You don’t often think of skinny receivers as tough, but Smith sure is.

AJ Brown went 6-103 and made some huge catches of his own. He was outstanding on slants. Made a key catch on the final drive and got out of bounds. That helped the Eagles get into position to have a chance.

Quez Watkins had 1 catch for 19 yards. He was open for a TD, but Minshew overthrew him on that play. There were two throws that came Quez’s way that ended up getting picked off. The first was a really good play by the DB. The second was a poor route by Quez. He came across the middle and passively waited for the ball. He’s got to run that route hard and come back to the ball. You could really see his limitations. Quez is good down the field, but can struggle over the middle. Bad game for him.


This was Dallas Goedert’s first game back from injury. He was 3-67 and looked good. His final catch was a 50-50 ball that he out-fought the defender for. That was impressive. Goedert looked good on the move. He had another pass come his way and drew a PI call on that. Blocking was up and down. Really struggled with Micah Parsons on the backside of runs. Parsons would explode off the ball and fly down the LOS. Goedert struggled to get a hand on him. Must do better on those plays in the future. Rough going up against Parsons in your first game back.


The OL did a good job in pass pro. Dallas has one of the best pass rushing units in the league. They didn’t have a sack. The gamebook doesn’t even credit them with a QB hit. That’s insane. Minshew helped with getting the ball out quickly and then moving around at times, but give the OL a ton of credit. They were outstanding.

Run blocking was good. Landon Dickerson really stood out on combo blocks. He would hit the DT with another OL and then peel off to go get a LB. Dickerson can be so good when he gets his hands cleanly on defenders. He is so strong and so nasty.

Jordan Mailata kept Parsons under control. I was a bit worried about that matchup.

Lane Johnson had a good game, but got hurt late and Jack Driscoll took his place. Watching live, I thought Driscoll got beaten on the final play. Not the case. The DE fell and Minshew just panicked. Had more time than he thought.


419 yards

8 of 15 on 3rd downs

1 of 1 on 4th downs (really 2 of 2 due to a penalty)

3 of 5 in the red zone

6 plays of 20 or more yards

1 takeaway

6 sacks,  9 QB hits

5 TFLs

The low point of the game (really the season) came when the Eagles gave up a 52-yard completion on 3rd and 30. Get a stop there and the Eagles have a very good chance to win. That play led to the TD that tied the game at 34. Josiah Scott didn’t execute his role well. To be fair, should he have had to do bail like that?

Just an absolute disaster.

Nate Tice wrote a fantastic piece for The Athletic on how Dallas used empty sets to attack the Eagles.

The other thing getting a lot of discussion is how Dallas destroyed the Eagles when they were in zone.

Coverages are so complicated these days that we don’t know exactly how accurate that is. Still, it gives us an idea of what happened. The Eagles should have been more aggressive with their coverages. Dak ate them alive.


Josh Sweat had a good game. He had 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, a TFL and a pick-six. That’s pretty decent in my book. Sweat has really come alive in recent weeks. He’s been disruptive all year, but now is making splash plays and people are starting to appreciate how good he is. Had one bad moment. Jumped offside on 3rd/8. Play wasn’t blown dead and Dallas hit on a 26-yard pass play.

Fletcher Cox bounced back from a quiet game vs the Bears. He was much better last Sunday. He was credite with 2 tackles. Cox got good push on multiple run plays and was disruptive. He also got good pressure on multiple pass plays.

Javon Hargrave played well. He was only credited with one tackle, but Hargrave almost got to Dak multiple times. He was just a step late. Very disruptive as a pass rusher. Good vs the run.

Linval Joseph had a good game. He was in on 5 tackles. LJ did a good job of getting off blocks and to the ball. It feels like he’s gotten better as the season has gone on. LJ had a chance to recover a fumble, but couldn’t get control of the ball.

Ndamukong Suh did a good job of getting off blocks and into the backfield. He got in on half a sack.

Brandon Graham frustrated me for the second week in a row. He keeps rushing too deep. There is no point in getting behind the QB. Ugh. On the play where Avonte almost got the sack, BG pulled up. The downside of his hit in the WAS game is that he’s now worried about getting a flag. Ugh. Did get in on half a sack.

Milton Williams had 3 tackles and a TFL. Played the run well. Penetrated and was disruptive. Chased down a screen from behind.


Haason Reddick had 4 tackles, 2 sacks and a FF. He continues to produce at a high level. He’s had strip sacks in consecutive games, but the Eagles haven’t recovered either fumble.

TJ Edwards led the team with 14 total tackles. He was good between the tackles, but Dallas made him get out in space and you could see some issues. Gave up a big completion to a TE down the middle. The TE created separation with a good route and TJ couldn’t recover. Dallas got the ball out wide at times and TJ doesn’t have the ideal speed for getting there. Was good on inside runs.

Kyzir White had 6 tackles and half a sack. He also broke up a pass over the middle. He had one costly mistake, a missed tackle of TE in space. Got Dallas out to midfield because of that. Sloppy by White. No need to be out of control at the tackle point.


Reed Blankenship made his return and mostly played well. He was in on 8 total tackles. Aggressive vs the run and generally tackled well in space. Was involved on a TD to Lamb. Dallas found a hole in the zone and Reed was the closest DB. Hustled over, but overran Lamb and he was able to score.

Marcus Epps was in on 6 tackles. Good vs the run. He was beaten by Gallup for a TD. Dak scrambled to buy time and Epps stayed close, but not close enough.

Gannon had the safeties double Lamb at times in the second half and they seemed to do a good job on those plays. One guy would play tight and the other over the top.


James Bradberry was in on 2 tackles and broke up one pass. Gave up a TD to CeeDee Lamb.  The analyst said the play looked like it would break inside and Bradberry was ready to jump it, but Lamb then cut outside and was wide open for the score. Might have been beaten for another TD, but the sun was in the receiver’s face and he couldn’t make the catch.

Darius Slay moved around. They didn’t put him on anyone specifically but seemed to have him on Lamb’s side. Lamb mostly is in the slot and Slay stayed out wide. Had 3 tackles. Made one huge mistake. Drew an illegal contact penalty on 4th/8. That kept alive a TD drive. Got some flak for the 3rd/30 play, but Slay was supposed to stay short on that. Did his job, even if it looks wild to let the WR get deep.

Avonte Maddox played both S and NB. He was very active early in the game. Gannon had him blitzing, covering and playing the run. It looked like he was a key part of the gameplan. Unfortunately Maddox hurt his toe while tackling Dak out in space. Dallas tried a trick play (throw-back pass) and Avonte read it perfectly and got to Dak right away. Maddox got him to the ground that time, but missed a chance for an earlier sack. He got into the backfield and got his arms around Dak, but couldn’t control him and Dak got the pass off. Ugh. That was a 3rd down play and the drive stayed alive. Didn’t play the whole game, but had 3 tackles, sack and 2 TFLs.

Josiah Scott took over for Maddox. It wasn’t Scott’s best day. Struggled vs Lamb. Did break up one pass, but it won’t be on the highlight reels. Was chasing Lamb in the end zone and the ball hit Scott in the back. Not exactly how they drew that up.


Brett Kern was not needed as a punter. He did have to hold for four extra points and a pair of FGs. Long, tough day for him.

Jake Elliott hit all of his kicks.

Boston Scott averaged 27 yards on a pair of KORs. He has settled into that role nicely. Runs hard and doesn’t hesitate.

The Eagles gave up a 31-yard KOR. Turpin had a long one negated by a hold. K’Von Wallace drew that call.


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