Game Preview – DAL

Posted: October 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 21 Comments »

The Cowboys are coming to town!  The Cowboys are coming to town!

I am one nervous nellie.  Cowboys games always bring out the worst in me, but add in the fact we’re at 2-4 and I’m at Threat Level Midnight.  Or higher.

I’m not going to write out a lengthy preview.  This is us and Dallas.  This game is less about strategy and more about execution.  We gotta out-block, out-hit, and out-tackle them.  If we do, we’ll win.  Remember, it was last year’s finale when our scrubs outplayed Cowboys starters for much of the game.  Our guys played with a lot of energy and aggression.  If not for a couple of simple mistakes, they win the game.  You didn’t expect Austin Howard to shut down DeMarcus Ware all game long did you?

About this year…I don’t have a gut feeling on this game.  I’m really not sure how you could.  Both us and Dallas have been maddeningly inconsistent, blowing 4th quarter leads and playing down to the competition.  Think of this as the “Don’t Blow It Bowl”.  The key to winning is not to have the lead at the start of the 4th quarter.

On offense we must keep Ware under control.  Jason Peters is back and has had some success with that matchup.  We’ll give him help at times to make sure Ware doesn’t get loose and wreak havoc.  Jason Kelce must handle NT Jay Ratliff.  Kelce is athletic enough to handle his quickness.  Now the question is will Ratliff overpower him.  Jay isn’t just a speed guy.  He’s very strong and uses that at times.

Rob Ryan will crowd the LOS and blitz a lot.  He will have his players do a lot of stemming.  That is pre-snap movement by the defense to confuse the blockers.  Ryan learned from Bill Belichick that the best way to do it is by having all the players stand up and move around.  Then no one knows what is going on.  Our OL and other blockers must read things before the snap and then adjust on the fly.  It is imperative to give Mike Vick time.

Vick also has a hand in all of this.  He must make better pre-snap reads.  He needs to get the ball out quickly.  Forget about big plays all the time.  Think about moving the chains.  We mixed in a lot of short stuff last week and it worked well.  If the Dallas CBs start to bite, we can burn them with a deep ball.

We all want Shady to get the ball a lot.  Every touch of him should help Vick and the rest of the offense.  I think it would be a nice touch to see Ronnie Brown get a 1st half carry.  He’s been nothing but professional about the whole situation.

Memo to Mike…throw the ball to the TEs.  Brent Celek is no longer a weapon, but the offense just works better when we throw to him and/or Harbor.  I hope we creatively mix the TEs into the gameplan.  I’m dying to see a TE screen to Harbor.  Could this be the game?

So how the heck do we shut down Dallas?  Play fast, tackle well, and swarm to the ball.  The Dallas offense is nothing like the Skins.  We did a good job of shutting them down, but aside from improved tackling and holding on to gifts from Rex Grossman, there isn’t a lot to take from that game that applies to Dallas.

The run game is built around the draw play.  Tony Romo does a great job on those.  He drops back like it is a pass play.  That action sells the defense on pass and then the RB takes off with the ball.  Our front seven must focus on draw plays.  They need to watch for any giveaways by Romo, the RBs, or OL as to when it is run vs pass.

RB DeMarco Murray was great last week as he ran for 253 yards.  Give him credit, but also realize that the Rams defense was not good.  Murray is a N-S guy.  He has good burst and runs very well.  Give him a lane to run in and he’ll hit it quickly.  The key is to get penetration.  Murray is average when he has to move E-W.  He doesn’t have good lateral agility.

The most underrated part of our defense last game out was the play of the DTs.  Mike Patterson was outstanding.  Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri were good.  Trevor Laws had some good moments.  We need those guy to come through again this week.  The good news is that the interior of the Dallas OL isn’t great.  We have a favorable matchup, but must take advantage of that.

Trent Cole will play.  Jason Babin is raring to go.  And Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker should be getting closer to 100 percent after early season injuries.  The DEs were a force in the first 2 games.  We beat up Sam Bradford, knocking him from the game, and Matt Ryan, who I thought was hurt a couple of times.  We’ve gotten some sacks since then, but the pressure hasn’t been quite the same.  This would be an ideal game for the guys to get back on track.  Don’t let Romo get comfortable.  Hit him early and often.

Dallas has much faster skill players than the Skins.  That puts a lot of pressure on our back seven to tackle well.  We did well in that department against Washington so I’m hopeful that we can repeat that.  Tackling isn’t complicated, but it is crucial.  This game will be interesting for Jamar Chaney.  He played most of the first game vs Dallas last year.  Different defensive scheme, but he knows their offense.  And he’s now been back at MLB for a month.  We need him to come alive.

I’m very curious what Castillo will do coverage wise.  You would like to use your big CBs on Dallas’s big receivers.  You also would like to mix in Nnamdi on Jason Witten in some sets.  I actually wonder if we’ll focus on the Nickel D.  Obviously part of that will be determined by what Dallas does.  If they go with a lot of 2 TE sets, we must play base.  I don’t anticipate them doing that, but they’ll have a couple of new wrinkles for us.

Last time out LB Keenan Clayton was inactive.  He didn’t make sense vs WAS because they aren’t a spread team.  The dime defense wasn’t going to be on the field all that much.  Dallas will go with more spread sets than WAS.  If Clayton isn’t active this week, then maybe he really has fallen out of favor with the coaches.  Something to watch for.

Is there any one thing to watch for?  Aside from turnovers, not really.  We’ve played in shootouts with Dallas as well as defensive struggles.  We’ve been lit up by Witten and WRs.  We’ve shut down their stars.  I don’t really see any rhyme or reason.  It seems to be more about which team has “it”.

We’re coming off the bye week.  Andy is 12-0 after the bye.  That’s nice, but streaks are made to be broken.  Andy used to be undefeated in Wildcard games, but has now lost 2 in a row.  I’m glad we had the bye to get fully healthy and rested, but let’s not think that guarantees us anything.  Besides, Dallas is coming off the unofficial bye…playing the Rams.

Sunday night should be crazy.  I’m excited.  And nervous.  And scared.  And excited.  But you know what…playing Dallas should be like this.  These games mean something because it is Eagles – Cowboys.  This is a true rivalry.  You better have some butterflies in your stomach.

21 Comments on “Game Preview – DAL”

  1. 1 Anonymous said at 6:32 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Ryan learned from Bill Belichick that the best way to do it is by having all the players stand up and move around

    Any chance we will see this from our defense? I remember we have used to do this in the past sometimes. Wouldn’t mind to confuse Romo, although I hope that our front four will cause havoc all night long.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 10:18 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Sean McD had us try that plenty of times last year. It just seemed to confuse our players. You need the right combination of players and coaches to make it work. Also, it’s much easier for a 3-4 team. LBs are used to being upright and moving around.

  3. 3 Steve H said at 3:05 AM on October 29th, 2011:

    It’s amazing working with our elite linebacking core that he couldnt’ get our guys to stem properly.

  4. 4 Joseph Morrison said at 6:34 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    the unofficial bye playing st. louis lol

  5. 5 Anonymous said at 6:45 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Let Nnamdi play the guy on his side press man-to-man all game.

    That leaves at least 6 Eagles to cover 4 Cowboys.

    The Birds can play bracket coverage on Whitten and pick when to double Austin.

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 10:18 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Simple, but could definitely work. I wonder if Juan will try something like that.

  7. 7 Scott Mather said at 6:49 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    I’m really hoping for an early blowout. I need the Eagles up by around 24 going into the 3rd quarter. My wife is set to be induced at 8PM (AZ time), so I likely won’t get to watch the end 🙂

    Ironically, my wife was born on the same night Philly beat Dallas in the 1980 NFC Championship…

  8. 8 Matthew Verhoog said at 7:32 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    I’m sure you can pull up some great stuff about the dangers of elective induction on the internet.
    My dad always tells this story about when I was born. The Sixers were in the playoffs and the doctor wanted to watch the game, my mom is struggling through the end of labor near tip off – Solution? some dramamin, Three hours of sleep for mom, while my dad and the doctor watched the game in the hall, I was born at 11:57 safely. Everybody wins.

  9. 9 Scott Mather said at 8:59 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    That’s a great birth story! Who won the game? 🙂

    There are medical reasons for the induction that I won’t get into on here.

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 10:19 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Good luck Scott. Let’s hope you have 2 reasons to celebrate that night.

  11. 11 Anonymous said at 10:19 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Great story.

  12. 12 Kabir Akhtar said at 12:47 AM on October 29th, 2011:

    hey that was my 5th birthday! i’ve looked it up and the birds are undefeated (i believe 4-0) on january 11th.

  13. 13 Gregory Post said at 7:39 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    “Brent Celek is no longer a weapon”

    Why not? I realize he’s not Tony Gonzalez but he’s shown the potential to be a dangerous TE. Is it just the change in system or Mike Vick’s play that inhibits Celek’s role?

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 10:21 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    There doesn’t seem to be good chemistry between Celek and Vick. I’m not talking about them getting along. Something about Vick’s style doesn’t mesh well with Celek. Might be Vick’s height? Celek also just doesn’t seem as fast when he does have the ball.

    Still a solid player, but not a weapon.

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 8:30 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    AR 12-0 after the bye is enough said, The Eagles will win. They have to or say goodbye to the season.

  16. 16 the guy said at 8:59 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    “Our guys played with a lot of energy and aggression. If not for a couple of simple mistakes, they win the game. You didn’t expect Austin Howard to shut down DeMarcus Ware all game long did you?”

    It could just be me, but has anyone else noticed that when the Eagles have a clear problem, like a key player (QB/LT/RT/etc) out due to injury, they frequently play surprisingly well?

    It seems to me it’s due to the coaches recognizing that they can’t call the “genius” plays they’re in love with and just go back to basics. They start calling simpler plays, focus on execution, and use a more balanced pass/rush attack. We then get excited and say to ourselves: “Surely they recognize how well it worked when [Vick/Peters/etc] was out, so they’ll do that when the starter comes back and it’ll be even better!”

    But they never do.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 10:22 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    Lots of truth to this.

    Too often, Andy is too smart for his own good.

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 8:16 PM on October 29th, 2011:

    “It could just be me, but has anyone else noticed that when the Eagles have a clear problem, like a key player (QB/LT/RT/etc) out due to injury, they frequently play surprisingly well?”

    Sounded great until I remembered Osi vs. Winston Justice a few years ago….

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 10:33 PM on October 28th, 2011:

    They’ve got to get the ball to Harbor instead of Celek. Celek can’t catch a pass from a leftys spiral. At first when he started missing all the passes to him, after Kolb got hurt, I was thinking he was doing it on purpose so his buddy Kolb could be the starter and Vick didn’t look as good. Last week Vick through to him 9x’s but he only caught 4 of them. He was a good receiver when McNabb and Kolb through to him, but I think he for some reason he can’t adjust to a lefty(Vick). Harbor can at least catch it from Vick.

    Cullen Jenkins should have a big day going against their RG & C. He’ll have the shortest path to Homo & hopefully drive him crazy getting in his face.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 4:50 AM on October 29th, 2011:

    ‘through to him’

    Really?! Were you drunk mate? 🙂

  21. 21 Anonymous said at 2:25 PM on October 29th, 2011:

    With Romo throwing a lot of shorter stuff recently, this is another big test for our LB’s. I asked this in the Romo thread, but will the Eagles play a lot more man coverage? Ray Didinger suggests that the Cowboys receivers are a lot less effective in press coverage.