As the highly-anticipated Christmas Eve rivalry matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys draws near, it’s only right that we focus on some of the key matchups. One of the biggest to watch will certainly be the Cowboys’ running backs against the Eagles’ run defense.
Cowboys RB Tony Pollard has more touchdowns this season (12) than he had in his first three seasons combined and Ezekiel Elliott has scored at least one rushing touchdown in seven straight games. So far this season, the two have combined for 1,743 yards and 19 touchdowns.
On Volume 90 of The NFC East Mixtape, RJ Ochoa asked Brandon Lee Gowton if he’s worried about Cowboys’ running backs Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard.
BLG: “That’s definitely one of the bigger concerns in the game in part because the Eagles are not good at tackling, they just aren’t. They’ve gotten better as the season has gone on, at one point they were literally PFF’s worst graded team in tackling.”
Within the last three weeks the Eagles have been able to successfully shut down the run against rush heavy opponents like the Titans, Giants and Bears. They limited Derrick Henry to 30 yards on 11 carries and also held Saquon Barkley to 28 yards on 9 carries. Saturday against the Cowboys will be another test for the Birds.
The last time the Eagles played the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott had 13 carries for 81 yards (a season-high yards per carry mark) and one touchdown, while Tony Pollard had 11 for 44.
“It’s a weakness and Tony Pollard is really good at making players miss, Zeke had his best game of the season against the Eagles earlier this year, so, yeah I don’t think I’m worried about them necessarily breaking 90 yard runs as much as it being a constant grind getting the Eagles defense into third and manageable, third and short situations.”
Although it will be a challenge, I’m confident that the Eagles run defense made up of double-digit sack players like Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat (0.5 away from 10) will be able to find success.