clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A comparison of the Cowboys the Eagles faced in the playoffs last year, and the one they'll see this Sunday (Offensive edition)

Remember the 24-0 and 34-14 beatdowns administered by the Cowboys last year?  I wish I could say I didn't, but they remain etched in my mind.  That was a very good Cowboys team that just so happened to match up extraordinarily well against the Eagles.  The Cowboys, after starting off the season playing totally uninspired football, fired head coach Wade Phillips, and promoted Jason Garrett.  They've since gone 3-1 and appear to have some life.

While they may be frisky, I thought it might be interesting to take a position-by-position comparison between the Cowboys the Eagles saw at the end of last season, and the one they'll play this Sunday.

QB:  Last year - Tony Romo.  Sunday - Jon Kitna.

Romo is easily a Top 10 NFL QB, and far from the cause of the Cowboys' early season collapse.  While Kitna has filled in and played surprisingly well, there's really no comparison here.  Romo is the far, far better player. 

Edge - Cowboys last year, in a big way.

OL:  Last year - LT Flozell Adams, LG Kyle Kosier, C Andre Gurode, RG Leonard Davis, RT Doug Free started the season finale, Marc Colombo started in the playoff game.  Sunday - LT Doug Free, LG Kyle Kosier, C Andre Gurode, RG Leonard Davis, RT Marc Colombo

Last year they were old (all of them were at least 31 years old), but stayed remarkably healthy against the odds.  This year, reality set in.  Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo both missed significant time early in the season with nagging old guy injuries.  Unfortunately for Dallas, they had no depth.  Kosier's and Colombo's replacements were Montrae Holland and Alex Barron, respectively.  While Holland actually held down the fort admirably at LG, Barron was awful, costing them the opener against the Redskins.  Meanwhile, Leonard Davis was so bad in the Cowboys' game against the Titans, he was benched.  Gurode has also battled a knee injury this season.  The only player that has been able to stay healthy and not be benched has been the one guy that many pundits mistakenly felt was the biggest question mark heading into the season, Doug Free.  Free has been the best of this bunch, which isn't saying much.  Trent Cole will have no shortage of one-on-one opportunities this week, as Dallas has been shifting its help to the porous right side of the line.

For the difference between last year's Cowboys OL and this year's version, look no further than the Cowboys' yards per carry in the running game:

Felix Jones:  Last year - 5.9.  This year - 4.0.

Marion Barber:  Last year - 4.4.  This year - 3.1.

Tashard Choice:  Last year - 5.5.  This year - 4.2.

Edge - Cowboys last year, in a big way.

RB - Last year - Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice.  Sunday - Same, minus the injured Marion Barber.

I already noted their rushing average comparisons from last year to this year, but the big difference this year is the burst (or lack thereof) of Felix Jones.  He bulked up this offseason, and simply hasn't been the homerun hitter the Cowboys hoped he would be.  He had the big screen catch and run against the Giants, but that's pretty much his lone big play on the season.  In fact, that's his only TD this year.  This unit has been an enormous disappointment this season.

Edge - Cowboys last year, in a big way.

WR - Last year - Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton.  Sunday - Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Sam Hurd (Dez Bryant out for the season).

Miles Austin's numbers from last year to this year are night and day.  This offseason, "The Football Scientist" KC Joyner called Miles Austin the best receiver in the NFL.  While that was a ridiculous proclamation, there's no mistaking that Miles Austin was a star.  He just hasn't been the same player this season by any stretch.  Rookie Dez Bryant began to make some noise mid-way through the season, but then cooled off before braking his ankle to end his season.  And finally, the ever-entertaining Roy Williams - There's a perception that Williams is having a good season, but that's pretty much a result of such low expectations.  Williams is averaging 2.8 catches for 41.8 yards and .42 TDs per game this season, and cost the Cowboys a game when he fumbled late against the Saints on Thanksgiving.  While he's having his best season with the Cowboys, he still stinks.  Crayton destroyed Joselio Hanson last year.  Sam Hurd is a good special teamer, but little else.

Edge - Cowboys last year, in a big way.

TE - Last year - Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips.  Sunday - Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, and Martin Rucker.

Witten is having a great season as usual, and Bennett is completely unproductive as usual.  The difference here is John Phillips, who was poised for a breakout year.  Instead, the Cowboys recently signed Eagles camp cut Martin Rucker.

Edge - Slight edge to the Cowboys last year.

As for FB, the Cowboys cut Deon Anderson and Chris Gronkowski filled in.  Gronkowski is noteworthy for his misread of a Michael Boley blitz that knocked out Romo for the season.  No edge here - Both players are below average fullbacks.

Later this week - The Cowboys defense.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bleeding Green Nation Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Philadelphia Eagles news from Bleeding Green Nation