You guys seemed to like the layout last week, so I will stick to a similar formula. I am using Sports Info Solutions as always. This is a huge game and I can’t wait. Let’s get into it!
Eagles Defense Tendencies
No surprises here, the Eagles don't mix up personnel much at all and rarely ever play 4 linebackers now.
The Eagles also still rarely ever stack the box and play a light box a lot. Thank goodness for Jordan Davis!
The Eagles continue to play a lot more man coverage than I expected at the start of the year! I still like the balance of man/zone and blitzes.
Cowboys Offense Tendencies
The Cowboys offense loves heavy personnel and the 12/13 personnel are going to test the Eagles if they remain in nickel. I expect the Eagles to stay in nickel as they have done basically all year.
The Cowboys are a proper running team and love to line up under center more than the average offense. They also use a lot of motion and this is something that has caused the Eagles problems in recent years.
The Cowboys do not care if you stack the box, they want to run the ball! They have a good mix of gap and zone runs too and are not easily predictable.
The Cowboys offense doesn’t turn the ball over much but they don't do a lot either. They want to play a short game, establish the run and rely on their defense. The Eagles defense needs to have a big game this week and it really should dominate the Cowboys offense when you look at the basic numbers if it can stop the run.
3 Key Matchups
1st down run game
As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys want to run the ball early and run it behind two tight ends. This is the Cowboys personnel on 1st down.
And this is the Cowboys with 12 personnel. They will run the ball - stacked box or not!
Despite teams stacking the box, the Cowboys can still run it well from 12 personnel. On runs with 12 personnel, they have 55 carries for 251 yards (4.6 yards per carry).
The Eagles have been really good against 12 personnel runs this year which is a great sign. They have only allowed 98 yards on 25 carries (3.9 yards per carry). This is a big matchup.
Despite teams knowing the Cowboys will run it on 1st down, they still have been pretty efficient, with or without 12 personnel. They have 367 yards (10th) on 81 carries at 4.1 yards per carry.
Don’t blitz that often
It is tempting to want to blitz inexperienced quarterbacks but it doesn't always work well. The Eagles have had success blitzing recently but the Cowboys offense has been efficient against the blitz. I'll leave this one to BGN's Shame Haff to explain why...
One thing the #Eagles should NOT do against the Cowboys is blitz. Cooper Rush is actually better against the bitz (+16.2%, +2.1 YPA, +34.8 QB Rating) because he gets the ball out so quickly already by design.— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) October 13, 2022
In simple terms, the Cowboys don't ask Rush to do much and he gets the ball out quickly. So blitzing him may not be the most ideal way to stop him this weekend.
When a team rushes 4 and pressures Cooper Rush, he is 11/24 for 142 yards on 30 dropbacks with 6 sacks taken. That is bad and if the Eagles can get pressure with 4 rushers in this game, this will give them a huge chance to win.
On the other hand, when a team sends 5 or more rushers, Rush is 20/31 for 237 yards and has only taken 1 sack. When he sees the blitz he gets rid of it and it may be smart to send 4 and play coverage to force Rush to hold the ball this weekend.
As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys will run 21 personnel on around 6% of their snaps which isn’t a great deal. However, the Eagles have only faced 21 personnel 4 times this year, and it’s worth noting they did play a more ‘standard’ 3-4 base defense on 1 of those snaps. There’s no real data to look at how the Eagles handle 21 personnel, so I would expect the Cowboys to use this early to see how the Eagles deal with it.
I may be wrong with this one, but I would be surprised if the Cowboys don’t line up in 21 personnel early, just to see what the Eagles do schematically to deal with this.