Cowboys-Eagles Preview And Reader Emails
NOV 10, 2012 10:37a ET
High expectations and low performances bring the two teams together on the field on Sunday afternoon. Odds are pretty good that both teams are in very bad shape moving forward in an attempt to find the postseason, however, it should be noted that both teams have an extremely manageable schedule heading in. Part of the reason for that is that they get to play 2 games against each-other in this equation, and if either team can sweep, then they have a real opportunity to rise up at the other's expense.
It has certainly been well documented as to why the Eagles offense is poor. Like Dallas, their offensive line is in shambles. However, unlike Dallas, it is due largely to losing good players to injury. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, and Todd Herremans are all strong offensive linemen. Peters has played 0 snaps, Kelce was lost in Week 2. Herremans was just lost for the year in New Orleans on Monday night, leaving Mathis and a bunch of replacements. And it is going very, very poorly. The Cowboys disappointing offensive line is actually much more disconcerting in the big picture since the Cowboys offensive line has received relatively strong health outside of the Phil Costa injuries that have been here pretty much all year long.
But, what has really been interesting and disappointing in Philadelphia has been their defense. They continue to struggle since the passing of the legend Jim Johnson. There is no question during his reign in Philadelphia that they had one of the more menacing units in the league. Blitzing, hits, sacks, and takeaways were something they did better than anyone.
But, now, the theme in Philadelphia is that their defense is pretty embarrassing. In fact, if you read this story, they don't pull many punches.
The Eagles’ defense is a collaboration of soft, overpaid, uninspired sissies who purposely avoid contact and expect to win games solely on reputation.
Those aren’t the rants of a critical beat reporter, a cynical fan or any one person who plays for an NFC East rival.
It’s the reputation cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said that he and his teammates have been saddled with around the NFL and it surfaces in not only what he’s hearing but also how opposing teams game plan against them.
“Everybody looks at us as a pretty defense,” Rodgers-Cromartie said after Thursday’s practice, “[and that] guys don’t want to be physical. We’ve got to go up there and make a name for ourselves.”What I find most amazing is their very weak pass rush. From 2008-2011, no organization in football has more sacks than the Eagles and their 181 - they are tied with Pittsburgh - and they consistently bring the pain to the opposing QB.
But, this season, you must scroll down to 46th place in the NFL to find the best Eagles sack man, Jason Babin with just 3.5 sacks after 18 last year. Trent Cole? He sits in 120th place in sacks with 1.5 so far. That is a far cry from his spot in double digits every year.
Those 2 alone give the Cowboys' tackles fits every year. But, this year, the Eagles to this point sit 31st in a 32 team league for sacks. With 11, they are in front of only Jacksonville and maybe no statistic in the NFL is more unlikely than that. The Eagles front of Cole, Babin, Cullen Jenkins, and Fletcher Cox looked about as difficult to deal with in preseason as the Giants' front. But, the results have been shockingly different.
They have had plenty of coaching chaos, with the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo just a few weeks ago, but the defense has not had quite the ready-made excuses of health to account for their poor performances. It is impossible to assume that Doug Free and Tyron Smith will continue to make the Eagles sputter, but to this point in the season, Cole and Babin have not been acting like themselves.
Before we get to your emails (that I concede have been stacking up a bit recently), I wanted to draw your attention to one other item that is certainly worth discussing, but it might have to wait to be properly broken down in depth from a Cowboys perspective.
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