You guys seemed to like the new layout from last week, so I will stick to a similar formula for this week’s Philadelphia Eagles versus Dallas Cowboys matchup. I am using Sports Info Solutions as always. This is a huge game and I can’t wait. Let’s get into it!
Eagles Offense Tendencies
Something to note in recent weeks - the Eagles have started playing a lot more 12 and 13 personnel. This is something to keep an eye on this week in particular.
No changes here in recent weeks, this is still a no-huddle shotgun offense with a lot of RPOs but still very, very little motion.
Due to the large % of shotgun runs, the Eagles are becoming much more of a zone-run team than a gap-run team. The screen % has gone up to first in the league after this past week screen heavy gameplan!
Cowboys Defense Tendencies
Wow. This is fascinating. Firstly, they never ever use base defense but Jayron Kearse is more of a ‘big nickel’ safety who can play the run. Still, he isn’t a linebacker. The 2-3-6 and 1-4-6 is fascinating and I’m excited/nervous to see the Cowboys run this on late downs.
This is also interesting when you consider the Cowboys defense is better against the pass than the run (more on this later) The Cowboys run a lot of stacked boxes with one-high shells so the Eagles receivers will have chances on the outside if the pass protection can hold up.
The Cowboys have a nice blend of man/zone and they are not an easy defense to predict. The pressure numbers are elite but they rarely blitz which is a bit of a concern but maybe a good thing considering how the Eagles have handled the blitz recently!
This Cowboys defense is really good but you can see the rush defense is nowhere near as good as the pass defense. This could be a ‘run the ball!’ game.
3 Key Matchups
The Eagles have struggled with blitzes and pressure in recent weeks. The Eagles offensive line is really good but they have allowed the 10th most pressures this year with 63 on 190 dropbacks. Unfortunately, the Cowboys defense ranks 1st in the NFL with 104 pressures. They rank 1st in hits (61), 1st in hurries (61), and 2nd in sacks (20th). This Cowboys defense is really good at getting pressure and the Eagles are going to have to be really careful.
The biggest reason why is Micah Parsons. Parsons has lined up at EDGE a lot and currently leads in the league with 27 pressures, 17 hits, and 16 hurries. I hope the Cowboys get cute and put Parsons as an off-ball linebacker in order to spy Hurts at times in this game but either way, Parsons is an elite talent who the Eagles have to be really careful of.
Throw out of 12
Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen will have had the same reaction as me when they saw these numbers - wow!
This is an opportunity. The Cowboys are very predictable against 12 personnel. They will basically always stack the box and go single-high. More than any team in the league! This is the week to go 12 personnel then get aggressive and let your elite wide receivers go and win one-on-one on the outside. The Cowboys have good cornerbacks but I think the Eagles need to be aggressive at times and give their elite receivers a chance to win (unlike last week). I will be disappointed if we don't see the Eagles throw out of 12 this week.
What's interesting is despite this coverage, the Cowboys have only faced 8 (lowest in the league!) attempts out of 12 personnel. Those 8 attempts resulted in 6 completions for 51 yards and 1 touchdown.
When throwing out of 12 personnel, the Eagles are 16/25 for 201 yards and 2 TDs. This is the week to do it!
Throw early... Run on 2nd down
The Cowboys run defense has not been that good as I pointed out earlier. However, it seems clear looking at the numbers that the plan is to play a stacked box on early downs to stop the run and force teams to throw.
On 1st down, they have allowed 296 yards (23rd) on 72 carries (4.1 yards per carry).
On 2nd down, they have allowed 248 yards (6th) on 42 carries (5.9 yards per carry).
Weirdly enough, this may help the Eagles be aggressive early because the Eagles early down running game has been surprisingly poor.
On 1st down, the Eagles have run for 347 yards on 89 carries (3.9 yards per carry).
On 2nd down, the Eagles have run for 282 yards on 56 carries (5 yards per carry).
The Eagles should be alert to this and if the Cowboys stack the box on early downs, the Eagles cannot be afraid to throw.