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Eagles opposing player to stop, Week 9 edition

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles have solved the problem of Micah Parsons, the Dallas Cowboys’ generational talent, and it is quite simple: Run at him. The problem player the Eagles will have to stop is CeeDee Lamb when 5-2 Dallas pays a visit this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on FOX from Lincoln Financial Field.

Lamb is coming off a career-best 12 catches for 158 yards and two touchdown receptions in the Cowboys’ 43-20 throttling of the Los Angeles Rams last week. He is ninth in the NFL receiving, with 633 yards, averaging 90.4 yards a game, getting an average of 13.8 yards a catch. Against the Eagles in six games, Lamb has made 27 catches for 391 yards and has scored four touchdowns. His last time against the Eagles, he made 10 catches for 120 yards and two TDs in a Dallas 40-34 win on Dec. 24, 2022.

When asked this past week what stands out about Lamb, Eagles’ defensive coordinator Sean Desai said, “Everything. He’s big. He’s physical. He’s fast. He’s got a big catch radius. He can win underneath. He can win after the catch on short throws in the quick game, and he can make you miss in space and go up and catch a contested ball. He’s a really good all-around receiver.”

Lamb is responsible for 38-percent of the Cowboys’ 1,546 yards receiving. What’s more troubling is the Eagles are No. 26 in the NFL against the pass, giving up an average of 247.5 yards a game, and have become too reliant on their pass rush to defend the pass. The 1,980 yards receiving the Eagles have yielded ranks a notch below, ranked No. 27 in the NFL against the pass.

How do the Eagles stop Lamb?

One possibility is try and take him out of the Cowboys’ attack by putting James Bradberry on him in the slot. Lamb is more effective in the slot, where the Eagles have had problems. The injury to slot corner Avonte Maddox has left a void. Since he has been out, the Eagles have gone through a bin of trying Josh Jobe there, Josiah Scott, Eli Ricks and Sydney Brown, who has proven to be a great hitter, though so far has had his issues in coverage. Even Maddox had his problems with Lamb, getting beat last year for 120 yards.

Bradberry is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. Lamb is 6-2, 200. The drawbacks: Bradberry is 30 and seems like there has been some tarnish on his talent, while Lamb is 24 and entering the prime years of his career. It will be difficult to stop him, though the Eagles did a very good job bracketing Tyreek Hill, who still equaled his season best with 11 receptions, though was held under 100 yards receiving for only the third time this season, and his 8-yards-per-catch equaled a season low (helped by a few uncharacteristic Hill drops).

Figure on the Eagles to deploy the same strategy against Lamb, possibly having Bradberry shadow him, with a safety up top for protection deep. Can Bradberry stay with him? Probably not.

In the Eagles two games against Dallas last season, Bradberry was matched with Lamb four times, giving up two catches for 21 yards. Bradberry has more slot experience. But it will be a group effort to stop Lamb, disrupt his routes, possibly give Lamb some press coverage and make him uncomfortable, instead of having a free release from the line of scrimmage.

Lamb has been held under 100 yards receiving four times in the Cowboys’ five games, though three of those five were Dallas blowout victories, where he was not needed. Against Arizona, and former Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Lamb was held to what matched as a season-low four receptions for 53 yards and no TDs. Perhaps the best job defending him was by San Francisco, which also held Lamb to four catches for 49 yards and no TDs. That one may not have been on Lamb as it was the stumbling Dallas offense, which was limited to a season-low 197 yards of total offense, eight first downs and going nine of 11 drives of three plays or less.

You can get to Lamb mentally, and he knows it. He was very frustrated during the San Francisco loss, so jumping on the Cowboys early will be a vital to the Eagles as will starting well will be a key for the Cowboys this Sunday.

“That’s the best way to start the game [but also] just being composed,” Lamb said this week according to reports from Dallas. “They’re gonna have their big plays. They’re gonna have the ball a couple times and they have playmakers, just as we do. So, going into this game, it’ll be a heavyweight match. Staying composed and staying true to ourselves [is key]. We live for these big games. I’m ready for it.”

We’ll see.


Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America

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