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Flying Blind - Offense

Offense

As has been the case for the last 3 days there is still little news on the injury front. Although it seems likely that Stallworth will not play and Westbrook will give it a go.

So, I'll attempt to give some thoughts on this game without knowing for sure whether McNabb will have his top 2 offensive weapons.

Without Stallworth, the Eagles are going to have to focus on that WCO short passing game. They still will probably look to go deep with they line up Greg Lewis in 3 WR sets, but for the most part they will probably start Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett as they did last week. Baskett certainly can exploit his size advantage over the Dallas corners, but he isn't beating anyone deep. Reggie Brown is the guy, however, that needs to step up and be the #1. He's not the deep threat Stallworth is, but he's not slow either and his physical nature is an asset in the short passing game. Still, McNabb is the NFL's leading passer for a reason. He is the Eagles greatest weapon and if Dallas plays single coverage and stacks against the run just because Stallworth is out he will find a way to punish them, just like he did against Green Bay and San Fran.

Alot of this game, without Stallworth, is going to come down the to the Eagles run game. Unfortunately, that's also a question with Westbrook injured. He's not practiced all week, but the Eagles have maintained that the swelling on his knee was under control. Whether he plays or not is a decision that's going to made an hour before gameday. Clearly, Westbrook would create massive problems for Dallas as he always has. He's a bad matchup for any Dallas LB, and if they move up Roy Williams to cover him it will expose their secondary over the top and Williams can't cover Westbrook anyway. If Westbrook plays, I would not be surprised to see the Cowboys play nickel alot.

LJ Smith, should also create matchup problems for Dallas. He can take advantage of the lack of speed Dallas has at LB and he can exploit Roy Willams in coverage. However, since his drop in overtime against the Giants McNabb has seemed a little gun shy about throwing to LJ. He's still caught some balls and played decent the past few weeks... but he hasn't looked like the consistent threat he was    in the first two games. If Andy get can get LJ involved early he could be in for a big day.

In the end, if Stallworth and Westbrook don't play or if Westbrook does play but is not 100% or Stallworth leaves early like he did in Green Bay... The offensive picture is not a pretty one. I can point to matchup problems and rationalize ways that the Eagles can put up points, but the fact is that you can't feel good. Without McNabb's 2 top weapons he is going to have to put on an incredible performance, just like he did last Monday Night. The defense is also going to have to play some very inspired football.