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Game Notes

5 Eagles to Watch on Sunday

John Williams

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5 Philadelphia Eagles to Note Ahead of Sunday's Matchup

The Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town with their stout 8-1 record at a time when the Dallas Cowboys are struggling mightily with injuries and consistency. The Eagles are coming off a huge 51-23 beat down over the Denver Broncos in week nine and are playing the part of the best team in the NFL.

We’ve heard a lot about Carson Wentz this year, and deservedly so. He’s thrown for a league leading 23 touchdowns to only five interceptions. The Eagles are the second best scoring unit in the NFL. He’s been good this year.

Enough about him, let’s touch on five Eagles you need to know and keep an eye on come Sunday.

1. Jay Ajayi, Running Back

One thing I’ll look for on Sunday is how they get new acquisition Jay Ajayi involved in the running game. In his debut, he carried the ball eight times for 77 yards while scoring on a 46 yard run. He isn’t the best running back in the league, but he has the ability to take the ball to the house on any given play.

The Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff only gave him 24.6% of the offensive snaps during the game against Denver and he only received two carries inside the red zone. How the Eagles deploy Ajayi and the rest of the running back group will be interesting to watch.

5 Philadelphia Eagles to Note Ahead of Sunday's Matchup 1

Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox hitting Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy for a loss.

2. Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle

This guy has been an interior thorn in the side of the Dallas Cowboys ever since he came into the league in 2012. He’s a terror who has averaged 5.7 sacks per season with a high of 9.5 in 2015 and is on pace for eight this season.

He isn’t the team leader in sacks, but he has 4.5 from the defensive tackle position. That’s pretty good. Only Geno Atkins, David Irving, and Aaron Donald have more sacks at defensive tackle than Cox.

He was given first team All-Pro honors in 2015 and 2016 and is considered one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL.

3. Jalen Mills, Cornerback

Jalen Mills was the seventh round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft. So far in the 2017 NFL season, he’s tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, second on the team in passes defensed with 10, and second on the team with 34 tackles. One of Mills’ interceptions has gone for a touchdown. His 10 passes defensed is three off the NFL lead of 13.

While the Eagles have allowed the most completions in the NFL and the ninth most yards, having a seventh round draft choice contributing like Mills is a huge bright spot for a Philadelphia Defense that ranks in the top-10 in scoring defense.

4. Nelson Agholor, Wide Receiver

Alshon Jeffery is the big name wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Nelson Agholor is the big play wide receiver for the team. Agholor is third on the team in receiving yards, receptions, and is tied for second with five touchdown receptions.

Along with Agholor, there are only four other players in the NFL who have recorded fewer than 50 targets and have five or more touchdowns.

Will Fuller has 7 touchdowns on 33 targets. That’s an incredible 21.21% of his targets that have gone for touchdowns. The others are Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs, Pittsburgh’s Juju Smith-Schuster, and Seattle’s Paul Richardson. Aside from Fuller, Agholor has the best touchdown/target percentage among that group of players.

Agholor’s been far more consistent than Jeffery, catching 69% of his passes compared to Jeffery’s 46.6%. Agholor is averaging 10.19 yards per target while Alshon Jeffery is only averaging 6.84 yards per target.

He’s a big play threat who has been hurting teams deep. Nelson Agholor has had receptions of 72, 58, and 36 yards. He will be difficult to contain.

5. Chris Long, Defensive End

The 32-year-old veteran, Chris Long, isn’t a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he’s played well in a reserve roll recording three sacks and forcing two fumbles.

His three sacks tie him for third on the team while playing less than half of the snaps on defense. He’s a player that could give Chaz Green or Byron Bell fits if they are forced to start.

Which Eagles are you worried about this weekend?

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I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

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2 Comments
  • Hector Espindola

    I would add a sixth one: Zach Ertz, a very good TE whose game can excel even more without Lee.

  • Travis Diggs

    Whoever going up against Byron Bell or Chaz Green should be on here after what happened last week, I’m guessing it’s Barnett, Graham, or Long.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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