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Eagles @ Cowboys – Game Preview

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: January 3, 2010, 3:15 PM

Usually in Week 17 your plans don't revolve around a weekend of football that will decide division champions, first round byes and rivalries.  This Sunday is different from most.  As the Cowboys stay home to host the Philadelphia Eagles things have never looked better.  The Cowboys, fresh off victories in New Orleans and Washington D.C., have emerged as one of the hottest teams in the league.  Dominating teams offensively and shutting down teams defensively.  This team has gone from December downer to January sleeper and things can't be looking better for this team.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Philly comes in as a team that might just be a little bit hotter than they are.   DeSean Jackson is leading an Eagles offensive unit that dominates opponents and can easily post 30 points in a game.

More importantly is knowing how intense this rivalry is.  Teams who are playing for it all, leaving nothing left in the tank, making a statement for this upcoming decade.  Tony Vs. Donovan, Jackson Vs. Jenkins, Austin Vs Samuel.  Take your seats, grab some food, have a drink and prepare to witness a battle.


How They Stack Up
11-4 Record 10-5
6-2 Home 5-2
5-2 Road 5-3
4-1 Division 3-2
429 Total Points 339
20.9 Avg Points Allowed 16.7
28.6 Avg Points Per Game 22.6
5498 Total Offense 5916
3898 Pass Yards 3992
1600 Rush Yards 1924
47 TD 40
42 Sacks 37
Won 6 Streak Won 2
1st, NFC East Position 2nd, NFC East


Eagles
(11-4)
Key Matchups

Cowboys
(10-5)
Dallas Defensive Line (3-4)

DE

DT

DE

The Dallas Cowboys come into this matchup with a defensive line that has helped attain 38 sacks this season, while limiting teams to a rushing yards per game average of 94.1 - good for 5th in the league. This unit is highlighted by Pro Bowl Defensive Tackle Jay Ratliff who had 2 sacks against the Redskins last week.

Opposing the Cowboys in the trenches is a tough offensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles. This line has allowed 34 sacks this season and is responsible for the play of Donovan McNabb. If this line wasn’t good, DeSean Jackson wouldn’t be so dominant. The Eagles rank 21st in rushing offense, and have lost their starting center for the remainder of the season.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Offensive Line

LT

LG

C

RG

RT


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Dallas Offensive Line

RT

RG

C

LG

LT

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the largest offensive lines in the league. They lead the way for the leagues 8th best rush offense. They have gotten better lately in protecting Tony Romo but still have obvious weaknesses and that mostly lies at Left Tackle where Flozell Adams isn’t always reliable.

Trent Cole is an animal and will be able to beat Adams from time to time, match that with the improved play of Defensive Tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson and you have a formula for the leagues 8th best rush defense. The real story will lie with the pass rush, the Cowboys have allowed 32 sacks this season, and Tony doesn’t like feeling pressured.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Defensive Line (4-3)

DE

DT

DT

DE


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Dallas Wide Receivers

WR

WR

WR

WR

WR

I’m really struggling with analyzing this matchup. On one hand Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree, and Crayton have been spot on. Austin is someone you have to account for on every play and even when you do, you still might get burned. Whereas Ogletree and Crayton have offered great plays when they are called upon, they are not called upon as often as Austin. On the other hand, Roy Williams can’t hold onto the ball and Sam Hurd, while good, has been dropping some as well in his limited playing time. Roy says he’s going to get back to basics, but only time will tell if it helps.

Philly offers a decent, not stellar, pass defense that ranks in the middle of the league. There is only one man that really jumps out at me as a game changer and, unfortunately, he’s a big game changer. Asante Samuel is a tough DB to face, he’s a pick 6 threat all day long. This matchup will shape the game.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Defensive Backs

DB

DB

FS

DB

DB


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Dallas Defensive Backs

DB

DB

FS

DB

DB

The Dallas Defense has been stepping up huge lately and may possibly be one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. We’ve seen that they’ve improved many of their flaws but the deep game remains to be seen. Jenkins and Hamlin have been locking down their side of the field, but my biggest concern is Terence Newman. Despite his All Pro repuation, he hasn’t been playing at the level he’s capable of. Not to say he’s not good, because he is, but he needs to lock down his side of the field this week to keep us in this.

Philly’s wide receivers are among the most dynamic in the league. From DeSean to Maclin to Avant you can believe that these receivers can break any game wide open. With their deep threat capability, Brent Celek is given a lot of chances to make short gains. This is a versatile passing game that is almost impossible to control. Our only hope is fundamental containment … maybe that will work.

Advantage: Philadelphia

Philadelphia Wide Receivers

WR

WR

WR

WR

WR


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Dallas Running Backs & Tight Ends

RB

RB

RB

FB

TE

TE

TE

The Cowboys have one of the most impressive running back rotations in the league. Combine that with Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and even John Phillips and you have yourself a pretty amazing core. Jason Witten is going to tear through Philly’s mediocre front 7 and it’s going to be an all day combination with Tony Romo. Felix will dash, Barber will Smash, and Tash will run that wildcat to perfection, allowing plenty of offensive balance.

This Eagles unit to me is mediocre. Will Witherspoon is talented, but Trotter has lost a step and besides those two the unit as a whole is young. Inexperience will hurt these guys and they will not be able to contain the Cowboys balanced offensive attack.

Advantage: Dallas

Philadelphia Linebackers

OLB

LB

OLB

SS

MLB

MLB

OLB


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Dallas Linebackers

OLB

OLB

MLB

SS

MLB

LB

LB

If you're a football fan, names like Brooking, Ware, and Bradie James should keep you listening. This linebacker team is the core behind the re-emergence of the Dallas D. Ware and Spencer seem to be almost unblockable while Brooking and James have been wreaking havoc on running backs and tight ends. Most experts would consider this a top 5 unit and it’s going to be hard to break through.

Westbrook is dangerous when healthy and McCoy has potential. However, neither of these two are going to make a difference in this game. Philly has a secret weapon in the run game and that is their fullback, Leonard Weaver. Weaver can run, catch, and block and it’s just plain difficult to gameplan for a fullback with that potential mixed with dangerous running backs. I’m originally from Philly and my father is a die-hard Eagles fan and he repeatedly tells me that Weaver is the difference maker and I believe him.

Advantage: Dallas

Philadelphia Runnings Backs & Tight Ends

RB

RB

RB

FB

TE


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Players To Watch
Sav Rocca
Sav Rocca

P Sav Rocca & Mat McBriar

Special teams are going to have a heavy influence on the outcome of this game. Thats why I’ve highlighted these punters as players to watch. With extremely explosive offenses for both teams you need to give them the longest field possible.

Mat McBriar
Mat McBriar


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QB Tony Romo

Tony’s been brilliant as of late. Throwing only 1 interception in the last month. It's not only about his improved play though, it’s been his ability to manage games and read defenses that has attributed to his success. Maybe the hottest quarterback in the league, Tony will have to manage, read, and deliver in this game. It’ll be up to him to make the proper changes and get this offense clicking early.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo


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DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson

WR DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson is the Eagles X-Factor. There is no doubt he has playmaking ability and explosive potential. In this game he’ll face a defense that has been known for being weak against the deep ball and you have to expect him to be able to find holes. The only question is if he’ll be able to burn up-and-coming CB Mike Jenkins who has played some of his best ball as of late.


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images via yahoo.com

 

Key Injuries


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WR Reggie Brown - Shoulder
(Probable)

C Nick Cole - Knee
(Probable)

S Quintin Demps - Ankle
(Probable)

WR Jeremy Maclin - Foot
(Probable)

QB Micheal Vick - Quadricep
(Probable)

G Max Jean-Gilles - Ankle
(Probable)

T Marc Colombo - Ankle
(Out)

S Pat Watkins - Knee
(Out)

WR Miles Austin - Thumb
(Probable)

CB Terence Newman - Knee
(Probable)

S Gerald Sensabaugh - Thumb
(Probable)

LB DeMarcus Ware - Wrist
(Probable)

Winner

The Cowboys battle hard and won't lose by a lack of effort but are unable to contain some of the big plays and lose, which might turn out to give them a better road to the playoffs.

Philadelphia 30 - Dallas 24


Keys To The Game

  • Stick DeSean Jackson - DeSean Jackson is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league. It’s his ability to get behind defenders that makes him so good, and Dallas had their share of blown assignments. If Jenkins can stop him, we can win.
  • Destroy Donovan - This is usually a pretty big “no-brainer”. However, this game I don’t just wan’t pressure, we need to destroy Mcnabb, he can’t have time to pick us apart and make his progressions. Constant pressure is the key here.
  • Tony and Roy for Miles - It is important that the pass game is sharp. I’m not exactly impressed by the eagles pass defense, and if we can air it out and score early, we can control the clock by having Philly’s D on their heels anticipating the pass.
  • Special Teams - Field position is key in this game. We can’t give Philly a short field; we can’t afford to blow any assignments in this area.

Some Other Reading

ESPN'S take on this weekends big game.

Why Dallas Must Win


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Dallas Cowboys

LB Justin Phillips Making a Case to Become a Roster Lock With Cowboys

Brian Martin

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LB Justin Phillips Making a Case to Become a Roster Lock With Cowboys

In Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys arguably have the best linebacker duo in the entire NFL. They also have some pretty solid backups in Sean Lee and Joe Thomas, but the depth behind those four is completely up in the air. That is excellent news for an undrafted LB like Justin Phillips.

The former Oklahoma State Cowboy LB signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent after the completion of the 2019 NFL Draft. To go from being an Oklahoma State Cowboy to a Dallas Cowboy must've been a dream come true, especially for a kid from Pearland, Texas who rooted for America's Team growing up. The dream probably won't be complete though unless a roster spot comes with it.

Surprisingly, Justin Phillips has put himself into contention to earn one of those coveted roster spots. The way he has played in the first two preseason games has caught the attention of quite a few people, which should make it extremely difficult for the Cowboys coaching staff when it comes to making roster cut decisions. Dallas Cowboys Staff Writer and former Scout Bryan Broaddus agrees…

"Justin Phillips is going to make it hard on this staff to put him on the street. Not only is his finish impressive, but the awareness he plays with in pass coverage is impressive. There is no way I thought he had a chance for that interception, especially with this initial step into the line, but his ability to turn and run to a spot saved him."

Here is the play/interception Broaddus is referring to:


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The Dallas Cowboys have typically only carried six linebackers on their 53-man roster these past few years. With four spots already spoken for, Justin Phillips is doing his damnedest to lock down one of those final two up for grabs. That, of course, is easier said than done.

Phillips is likely competing with Justin March-Lillard, who led the team in tackles against the Los Angeles Rams last week and fellow undrafted rookie LB Luke Gifford. Gifford, of course, missed the game against the Rams with an ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 of the preseason against the 49ers. It was actually that injury that resulted in more playing time for Justin Phillips.

If you're doing the math here, that's three linebackers competing for two roster spots. March-Lillard probably has the upper hand right now over the two rookies, but I wouldn't say he's secured a job just yet. That leaves the door open for No. 44 (Phillips) and No. 57 (Gifford).

As much as I like Luke Gifford, and I do, I think the stars could be aligning for Justin Phillips to make it through roster cuts. He's playing really well right now, while all Gifford can do is watch from the sideline until he can get back on the field. Regardless though, it's a position battle worth keeping an eye on.

Do you think LB Justin Phillips has done enough to secure a roster spot?


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Dallas Cowboys

How Kris Richard May Help CB Michael Jackson Make Cowboys Roster

Jess Haynie

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Michael Jackson, 49ers

Cornerback Michael Jackson, one of the Dallas Cowboys' 5th-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, has not been standing out so far in training camp or preseason. But despite the slow start, the influence of Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard could help keep Jackson on the 53-man roster this year.

While no team likes parting with their drafted rookies, it certainly happens. That's especially true for Day 3 players, even 5th rounders, and particularly when a team is as deep with talent right now as the 2019 Cowboys.

The cornerback position is one of Dallas' most loaded. They go four-deep with starting talent in Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis, which leaves just one or two roster spots for the remaining prospects.

Michael Jackson is in competition with veteran C.J. Goodwin and the intriguing Donovan Olumba. Both were with the team last year; Goodwin was a special teams contributor and Olumba was a valuable developmental asset on the practice squad.

So far this preseason, we've seen Goodwin shining on special teams and Olumba making plays at cornerback. Jackson hasn't stood out, unless you count jokes about thin he looks on the field.

In contrast, fellow 5th-round rookie Joe Jackson has been showing up at defensive end. Even if there were no suspension concerns with Robert Quinn and Randy Gregory, Joe Jackson has made himself very difficult to cut.

But despite not having that same momentum or energy around him yet, Michael Jackson may still find his way onto the 53-man roster. And that may have something to do with his position coach.


Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys DB Coach Kris Richard

Since arriving in Dallas during the 2018 offseason, Kris Richard has quickly gained prominence beyond just his official role as the Defensive Backs Coach. He was working as the defensive play-caller last year and is expected to take over fully in 2020, assuming Rod Marinelli retires and Richard doesn't leave for a head coaching opportunity.

When Dallas selected Michael Jackson in the last draft, Jackson became the first cornerback or safety drafted by the Cowboys since Richard arrived. Given that it happened this year, with Richard's influence clearly high on the defense, one would assume that Kris had a big say in the decision to draft Jackson.

No, Richard certainly can't veto any decision made by the Joneses, Will McClay, Jason Garrett, or even Marinelli when it comes to roster management. But if he has any bias towards Jackson as his first draft pick in Dallas, Kris may fight for the rookie more than someone else.

We're all human; agendas come into play. Kris Richard may be more passionate about seeing Michael Jackson succeeding for a variety of reasons. He may pound the table for the team to keep Jackson louder than anyone else in the room.

That doesn't necessarily mean keeping Jackson over some other cornerback, either. The argument could be to go long at CB at the expense of another position; maybe only keeing two quarterbacks or eight offensive linemen to free up a roster spot.

This is purely speculative, of course. For all we know, Richard could be the first one who loses faith and votes to let Jackson go.

But given the situation and all factors involved, it's more likely that Kris Richard will be invested in seeing Michael Jackson succeed and sticking with the Cowboys in 2019. Hopefully, it's in the best interest of the team overall.


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Game Notes

DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win

Kevin Brady

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Kerry Hyder

Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.

Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.

As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.

Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.

Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.


A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.

Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.

"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli

Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.

Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.


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