On Wednesday, Chip Kelly spoke highly of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, saying that the he has done a great job of spreading the ball around to his weapons. One day later, Kelly expanded the discussion to include those weapons on the Cowboys offense and the challenge that they present to the Eagles defense.
Dallas’ leading receiver on the season is Dez Bryant, a fourth-year pro out of Oklahoma State. Bryant’s offensive output has increased in each one his NFL seasons, including a 93-catch, 1,382-yard campaign in 2012. According to Kelly, there is something about the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Bryant that sets him apart from most receivers.
“The combination of Dez with his size and speed - sometimes we’ll face a bigger receiver, but he doesn’t have that top-end speed that Dez has, or you see someone with top-end speed but they don’t have the size,” Kelly said. “He certainly is a guy that is kind of unique in what his skill set is.”
Bryant figures to garner most of the secondary’s attention on Sunday afternoon, but an extra eye will have to be placed on tight end Jason Witten, who has been a thorn in the Eagles side since entering the league in 2003.
“Witten is just a big 265-pound tight end that has sure hands,” said Kelly. “He’s got a great understanding of the game. It seems like him and Romo are always on the sage page and he almost seems like Tony’s security blanket, because he always knows where he is and he always knows that if he throws it in his direction, he’s going to get that big catch.”
Even if the Eagles are able to limit the production from Bryant and Witten, Kelly knows that there are still other players on the Cowboys offense who are capable of putting up big numbers.
“I think it’s unique,” Kelly explained. “Sometimes you face a team that has one guy. They certainly have two All-Pros in terms of Dez and Witten, and then you throw in that (Terrance) Williams is really coming along, and I don’t know the health of (Miles) Austin but you throw him into the mix and I think that passing attack overall will be a really difficult challenge for us, just because of how many weapons there are. You can’t say, ‘Hey, if we double this guy we’re in good shape’, because there are other guys out there who can hurt you.
The Cowboys and Eagles ranks second and fourth in the NFL, respectively, in points per game. With that in mind, many people are expecting Sunday’s game to be a shootout, but Kelly says not so fast.
“(At Oregon) we played in a National Championship Game against Auburn that was supposed to be one for the ages and it was 22-19,” Kelly noted. “You had 37 days to prepare and you could analyze it 27 million different ways. I’ve been in games where it’s been, ‘This one is going be a stern defensive test,’ and it’s 38-31 and half and it’s like, ‘Well, that’s not what I thought.’ So we don’t go in that way. We try to execute what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively and we see how the game goes.”
First place in the division will be on the line at Lincoln Financial Field, but Kelly and the Eagles are making sure to stay focused on their daily routine rather than worrying about what the future may hold.
“We’ve practiced well the last couple of weeks,” said Kelly. “Obviously, we always talk about preparation, and I think your preparation leads to whether you’re successful or not successful on Sundays, and I think those guys get a feel for it. As we get closer to the game, you start to get into that mindset that you’re trying to get into, and that starts to happen really 48 hours before the game. They know that for us to be successful on Sundays, we have to have an outstanding Thursday, and that’s what we control.
“I think sometimes that energy than you kind of devote to wishing, you can devote that same energy to planning and what you have to get accomplished.”