The Eagles rookies are coming off a largely disappointing showing against the 49ers. As the team looks to rebound from a loss, the Eagles’ first-year players need to rebound against the Cowboys. As the bright lights shine on their first primetime showing in the NFL, here are the ways they will need to respond.
The Eagles need a DeVonta Smith breakout.
After a pretty damn good first NFL game from DeVonta Smith, the first round receiver went quiet against the 49ers.. Sure, Smith was not working with high quality targets, but the Eagles drafted the Heisman winner to be a quarterback-proof playmaker.
The Eagles were constantly in position to go up against San Francisco last week, but could not capitalize. DeVonta Smith has the chance not only to be a playmaker on the offense, but a much needed finishing move when they get down into scoring position. After all, the guy scored 37 touchdowns in his last two years of college.
The Cowboys defense is not a pushover unit, but it is hardly a top group in the league. Their young cornerbacks should be a great chance for DeVonta Smith to turn targets into catches into big plays.
Landon Dickerson’s first start.
The Eagles were dealt a huge blow when they lost Brandon Brooks last week, arguably the best guard in the NFL. Luckily, Landon Dickerson is back healthy for the team and was ready to get into the line up in a pinch.
Dickerson’s first few quarters in the NFL had bright spots and blight spots, but it’s hard to expect anything less given he was thrust into the lineup after spending weeks coming back from injury.
Now Dickerson is the starter, practicing with the starters, and hopefully with some jitters out of his system. Dickerson’s play will factor massively into how the Eagles offense performs on Monday. So hopefully he is fully settled in and ready to kick some ass.
Milton Williams getting more snaps against Dallas
It is hard to know exactly how the Eagles plan on filling Brandon Graham’s shoes, but it will mean a lot of young guys stepping up in a big way. Milton Williams is not Brandon Graham. No one thinks he is. However, he has sky-high potential and the team no doubt wants him to be flexible in the same way Brandon Graham was.
Williams is going to see more snaps immediately as a base defensive end and could see more time as an interior rusher on “NASCAR” style defensive line packages. He has the talent to make an impact wherever he lines up and his first big test with these expectations is Dallas.
This is quite the challenge for any defensive lineman, let alone a rookie. Which makes it all the more important Williams is able to ascend from just being an offensive play preventer to a defensive playmaker.
Growing Patrick Johnson’s role.
Patrick Johnson is starting to cut into Genard Avery’s snaps as an outside linebacker in 3-4 alignments. The rookie defender might not have Avery’s speed, but he is far more physical and already looks more comfortable on the football field.
The Eagles should keep increasing his playing time as he brings a unique versatility given his ability to play with his hand in the ground, stood up on the edge, or even as a coverage linebacker.
The Eagles linebackers need a spark more than any other positional group on the defense. Johnson could give the team that spark.
Tarron Jackson finding snaps.
Brandon Graham’s absence will be felt in many ways, including the way it opens the door for Tarron Jackson to get on the field. The late round pick looked promising in preseason, and got on the field a bit against San Francisco last week.
Now that it is almost a sure thing that Jackson will be part of the defensive line rotation, it will be interesting to see how he fares against Dallas’ offensive line.