2012 has not been a fun season for Eagles fans. Some are already looking ahead to 2013. Some are focused on what changes will be made in the offseason. Winning on Sunday night wouldn't erase the misery of the 2012 season, but it would give me three hours to enjoy the Eagles.
I hate Dallas with a passion. I can't stand Jerry Jones. Is there a more annoying owner in sports? Tony Romo might be a nice guy, but seeing the Gomer Pyle smile of his drives me nuts. I won't run down the whole roster. I think you get the idea. I don't like the Cowboys from the top on down. Beating Dallas has made me smile for two decades and that will continue into the future. If the Eagles can't have a good year, at least give me some good moments. The Sunday night win over the Giants was nice. Beating Dallas would be an early Christmas gift from the Eagles.
The Cowboys are 5-6. 2012 hasn't exactly been a banner season for them either. Both their offense and defense are ranked in the top 10 in yards. Both units are ranked much lower in points. That tells you they're a flawed team. The Eagles played them evenly a few weeks back until there was a punt return touchdown that broke the game open. Dallas scored a pair of defensive touchdowns after that and won 38-23.
Can the Eagles win without
First up, I want to see him make better decisions. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg know how to design plays. There will be open targets. It is up to Foles to find them quickly and get them the ball. Foles made poor reads and then threw the ball into coverage last week. He needs to do a better job of finding open receivers down the field. Throwing the ball to a checkdown receiver is fine. Throwing it away can be smart at times. You must stretch the defense vertically. I don't mean throwing 40-yard bombs. You do want to do that a time or two, but throwing intermediate passes is important. Get the ball 15 to 20 yards down the field.
Two key areas to watch are third downs and the red zone. The Eagles didn't convert on third down last week with any pass plays. They have really struggled on third down since Foles took over. This is to be expected from a rookie quarterback. I'm not suddenly expecting him to look great, but he does need to show some progress. If you want to sustain drives, you must convert on third down. As for the red zone, that's pretty obvious. You won't win when you have to kick field goals. You can't count on running the ball on every play. The quarterback must be able to complete some passes in the red zone to keep the defense honest and give his running back a chance to score when you do run the ball.
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.
I do think there will be the chance for some big plays. Dallas likes to blitz and attack. There will be some creases. Brown is a downhill runner that can exploit them if he's headed in the right direction. Once he gets past the line of scrimmage, his speed becomes a major factor. Defenders have to take good angles or he can make them pay, as he did with the 65-yard run against Carolina.
Brown fumbled twice last week. He must hold onto the ball. I don't want it hitting the ground, even if the Eagles recover. Brown needs to know that he'll only stay on the field if he can keep the ball off the field. Dallas defenders watched the Monday night game. They know about the fumbles. They will be trying to strip it away. Brown needs to be smart about fighting for extra yards. There are times to fight for every inch and other times when the smart play is going down and keeping the ball safe.
The offensive line struggled in the first Dallas game.
Kelly is the blocker I'll watch most closely. It would be great to find out he has good starting potential for the future. The Cowboys rushers will be an excellent test for him. Kelly didn't give up a sack last week, but he had some poor blocks. He also got help from
The defense will be without Jason Babin for the first time this year. That means
Last week, the Eagles got good returns from
You also wonder if Andy Reid will have any tricks up his sleeve. The Eagles’ great run from 2000-04 was jump-started by an onside kick in Dallas to open the 2000 season. Would Reid try something like that again? He did it in Dallas back in 2003, but they returned the kick for a touchdown. That team was coached by Bill Parcells and was very fundamentally sound. The current Cowboys team is highly erratic. Maybe you can burn them with a trick play.
Let's go beat Dallas on Sunday night and put a serious hurting on their chances of making the postseason. If we can't go to the playoffs, let's make sure you can't go either. I wish the season hadn't been reduced to playing the role of spoiler, but that's what has happened. Go beat Dallas and for three hours we can smile. Even better, beating Dallas means Jerry Jones can't smile.