So we're gearing up for one of the two games that we wait all season long for. The Cowboy's game at home and the one away. I'm going to say it, I don't buy the Cowboy hype, not only because I'm an Eagles fan but also because I love to watch the game of football and hate hyped up teams i.e. Giants, Patriots, Chargers, and Indy. Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate the players per se, well some I do, but for the most part I hate the way the media gloats over them.
Now since we're in the NFC East we have to deal with the Giants and the Cowboys of course. I'm not worried about the Giants, I applauded the Giants last year for winning the Super Bowl, I went on Bigblueview.com (run excellently by ETVal) and said that I was impressed. Now it seems that the win has gone to their heads and they believe themselves to be a powerhouse...yeah...get over it.
But what does concern me are the Cowboys since they are, and I absolutely believe this, the only real threat to us in the NFC. Why in God's name would I say this? Because we resemble another team that has won the super bowl time and time again, and that is the NE Patriots pre-randy moss, except with more firepower.
Lets take a hard look at this game coming up on Monday night.
In 2007, and we'll move into 2008, the Cowboys have maintained a very traditional pass-heavy offense (The rushing yards usually only mounting in the 3rd and 4th quater when defending a lead). You see Romo with his favorite targets of Witten and Owens and occasionally crayton. When they whipped us in our first meeting, you saw 10 receptions by owens bringing down the win, when they lost to us they managed fewer then 5, I believe, being forced underneath to Witten do to the heavy pass rush. Furthermore, we were able to keep them at 8% on 3rd down sacking Romo 4 times. The point is, when you give him time he performs well, collapse the pocket a little and he folds. Also remember that his front 5 were exactly the same in both games...so what changed in his horrendous 3 interception/2 fumble performance...pressure.
Initially last year you remember that people believed you could try to stop the Cowboys and the Patriots with deep blanket coverage and utilizing 4 men (usually) in the pass rush, and of course this didn't work until the Eagles showed the league how to attack the pass in the Patriots game and the Cowboys game later in the season. We brought the house and the same line that allowed a 20/25 completion ratio for romo in the first meeting could barely continue a drive in the second. This is almost exactly the same line we're going to face on monday, and the best part is that their RBs aren't half as good as Jones was at picking up the blitz.
Furthermore, the defense they will be facing, and this game will be won and lost by the defenses - without question - will be greatly augmented. The aging Kearse and spikes have been replaced and instead of Joselio hansen as the third corner, we'll have Asante Samuel rounding out an elite secondary where each are capable of being left on an island.
This fact alone means more time in the 4-3 and nickel packages. For the front seven, the Eagles sought speed rather then shear size with Dallas the exact opposite with their front 5 in the O line being well over 300 lbs (the smallest is 310), this speed hurt them last year and it will absolutely hurt them again.
The Cowboys say that we faced the rams who went 3-13 last season, and the game should be easy, and it was, but we put up over 500 offensive yards missing our first and second starting WR's. They are sending an offense that, while looking excellent against a young, inexperienced Browns secondary, has faltered considerably at the end of last season when challenged.
As I said, McNabb and the Eagles resemble the ol' patriots since with McNabb at the helm any WR, TE, RB, or FB becomes a weapon and possible big playmaker if the play is drawn up right. The power in our offense versus the cowboys is that we have a lot of "good" guys, but no truly great guys (westbrook aside) for the defense to clue into, and that's what makes us dangerous.
To finish with the rushing attack, in both games last season, we allowed fewer than 100 yds on the ground in each meeting with the cowboys. I don't believe that their barber/felix tandem will be as potent as they believe it to be, and either way, with a bolstered secondary six and seven men in the box on every down can be a strong deterant.
I don't buy the Cowboys' hype, and while I don't think this game will be a walk in the park next week I do think that if the Eagles play good football and avoid errors like the Cowboys showed against the browns (the false starts, etc) I think that we can win - and win big. The defense will win this game for us, and just like before, once Johnson gets inside Romo's head - the game is over.