It’s Dallas week and Doug Pederson has made his guarantee.
Will the Eagles back up his words? This is your in-depth Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Week 7 preview.
EAGLES PASSING GAME VS. COWBOYS PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 91.5 PASSER RATING (18/32), 238.2 YPG (16/32)
DAL- 90.0 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (16/32), 238.0 YPG ALLOWED (13/32)
Will DeSean Jackson play? According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, it appears that Jackson won’t be able to suit up on Sunday.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 16, 2019
The Eagles have missed Jackson’s ability to stretch the field and he could be a tremendous asset for the 12 personnel packages in the play-action passing game. Besides Alshon Jeffery, there hasn’t been a ton of production from the wide receiver spot during Jackson’s absence. Nelson Agholor has caught just five passes for 62 yards over his last three games,
Carson Wentz is the second-ranked quarterback in the NFL at the moment behind only Seattle’s Russell Wilson, according to PFF. He has not been the reason for the Eagles’ 3-3 start. You can check out some of PFF’s grades on Wentz below.
Dallas has surrendered 58.5 yards per game to tight ends this year, which is the seventh most in the NFL. I’d expect to see a lot of different looks out of the 12 personnel packages for Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and to see them take advantage on safeties Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. We’ll see Ertz and Goedert lined up in-line, out wide or in the backfield as halfbacks. I expect them to see a ton of work on Sunday night.
Dallas cornerback Byron Jones has been a stud since making the transition from safety to cornerback, using his insane athleticism and size to become a shutdown guy. He’ll be battling Jeffery.
Andre Dillard will make his first career start in place of the injured Jason Peters (knee) and he took his lumps against Everson Griffen, getting simply overpowered at times. Robert Quinn will be the enemy Sunday.
“Well, first of all, the one thing I love about JP [T Jason Peters] is how he fights through and battles through injury,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “That’s first and foremost. He’s a tough guy, and he’s an anchor. With Andre, he gets a lot of practice reps during the week and when he does get a chance to play, it’s not like it’s the first time. Now, it’s game speed obviously, but it’s not the first time. He actually got the reps in practice.
We’ll have to see where Jason is at later in the week but Andre will be fully prepared, fully ready to go if we have to go that route.”
DeMarcus Lawrence will be taking on Lane Johnson on the other side and Johnson has yet to allow a sack against Lawrence in his career.
EAGLES RUNNING GAME VS. COWBOYS RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 4.0 YPC (19/32), 111.2 YPG (14/32)
DAL- 4.2 YPC ALLOWED (13/32), 93.8 YPG ALLOWED (12/32)
Dallas is 13th against the run in terms of yards per carry, yielding 4.2 yards per tote, but it is susceptible to runs up the middle.
The Cowboys have three fantastic linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith who are fast, athletic and range sideline-to-sideline, but they can be overwhelmed when you run right at them. This has been showcased by the Los Angeles Rams’ performance in the NFC Divisional Playoff game and the Green Bay Packers’ showing a few weeks ago in Dallas.
I would expect to see a ton of 12 personnel and A LOT of Jordan Howard up the middle.
COWBOYS PASSING GAME VS. EAGLES PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 94.5 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (20/32), 280.2 YPG ALLOWED (29/32)
DAL- 102.9 PASSER RATING (5/32), 305.0 YPG (3/32)
Like the Eagles, the Cowboys’ offense has gotten used to getting off to slow starts as well. They haven’t scored a touchdown in the first half during their three-game losing streak.
Amari Cooper’s health is the big thing to watch here, will he be able to go? Cooper is currently dealing with a quad injury. He played just three snaps against the Jets, logging one reception for three yards.
“We’ll take his situation day by day,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of Cooper. “Obviously, he’s as tough as they come and does everything he can to get himself in position to play and play through some of those things. He’s done that throughout his career. He’s done that for us. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the other day. We’ll take his situation day by day, and hopefully he can practice as the week goes on.”
Cooper destroyed Philadelphia last year, hauling in 10 balls for 217 yards and three touchdowns in his lone meeting against the Birds after being acquired from the Oakland Raiders.
Clarence Hill of Star-Telegram is reporting that all of the injured Cowboys are expected to play, except for Anthony Brown.
All injured Cowboys, save for Anthony Brown, are expected to practice today and play against the Eagles, barring a setback, per sources
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) October 18, 2019
The Eagles are expected the get back Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills Sunday. Darby has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, while Mills hasn’t played since last October due to a Lisfranc fracture.
“Jalen’s an experienced player,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “He’s tough. He’s very competitive. Good tackler. It will be nice to get all those things back when he’s able to do it all on the field.”
I would expect Darby to play, but for Mills to be limited in his snaps.
“You have to be careful with [CB] Jalen [Mills], number one,” Pederson said “He hasn’t played in a while. That’s why the practice is so important this week for him. I think you still have to have a plan. Obviously if he can’t go 60 minutes, I don’t think it would be smart on our part to put him out there for a full 60 minute game if he’s ready to go.
I think [CB Ronald] Darby on the other hand, you probably could do that just because he’s played and he’s played this season. So, probably two different guys, so I would expect Darby to maybe play a little more if he’s healthy and ready than say Jalen.”
The Birds are currently 29th in passing yards allowed (280.2 per game), 28th in touchdown passes allowed (13), and 22nd in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.8).
We’ll see if Darby and Mills help the secondary out after Howie Roseman was unable to land Jalen Ramsey during the week.
“There’s no disappointment [about not getting Ramsey],” Pederson said. “I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a good player. But listen, we’re getting guys back. I’m excited about the guys we’ve got coming back and getting back into the mix. That’s encouraging.”
Schwartz delved into some of the problems with the secondary.
Inconsistently. There have been times they have, but like a 3-3 team, we’re all striving for consistency. I think that those guys are striving for that.
“I don’t know that any of those were lack of confidence or putting the play behind them, but it was — whether it was a penalty, whether it was a physical error or a technique error, which is a physical error, or a communication error, another bad play ended up rolling up on them. That’s the life they live.
There were a lot of technique errors, a lot of miscommunications in every game with D-linemen and linebackers and everything else. Whether you win the game like we did against the Jets or lose a tough game like we did against the Vikings, generally those don’t get the attention that the cornerback position takes. That’s part of that job description, that scrutiny. Kickers, quarterbacks, head coaches, those are — probably defensive coordinator — you know, blitz, playing man with two deep guys over the top, like all those things.
It’s just what we deal with and everything else, and corners need to be able to put bad plays behind them. We have been inconsistent doing that.”
Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith has a high ankle sprain and La’el Collins is still dealing with a knee injury and if they don’t go, Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham will have mismatches against Cameron Flemming and Brandon Knight.
COWBOYS RUNNING GAME VS. EAGLES RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 3.3 YPC ALLOWED (2/32), 72.8 YPG ALLOWED (2/32)
DAL- 4.8 YPC (10/32), 138.8 YPG (7/32)
Ezekiel Elliott has a good history against the Eagles, who are second in rush defense at the moment.
Zeke is averaging 4.82 yards per carry and 115.8 yards per game in four career contests against Philadelphia, which limited Dalvin Cook to 41 yards on 16 carries last Sunday.
Elliott hasn’t hit a home run on the ground yet this year with his longest run being just 27 yards.
“I don’t want to press it,” Elliott said. “I’m not going to try too hard to create a big play. Just opportunities like [the one Sunday], just making sure I take full advantage of it so Monday, I’m not regretting or thinking that I could have done something different or done something better.”
PREDICTION: Doug made his guarantee and so am I. I think the Cowboys’ run defense can be had and the Eagles seem to be on the verge of something with Jordan Howard running out of the 12 personnel packages. Eagles’ secondary will still take their lumps, but they will pound it on the ground in Big D and come away with a victory.