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Fan-Demonium: Writing The Next Chapter

Posted Nov 10, 2012

Fan-Demonium

Over the years, we have seen a lot of crazy games when the Cowboys come to town.

In 2008, the game was a showdown for a playoff spot. The Eagles were dominant and won 44-6. Brian Dawkins forced a pair of fumbles that were returned for scores and Lincoln Financial Field was an electric place that day. Back in 2006, Terrell Owens made his return to Philly and the Eagles won a back and forth affair with big plays in the fourth quarter. The highlight there was Lito Sheppard picking off a pass in one end zone and running it all the way down to the other one for a spectacular touchdown. Remember 1995, the "4th-and-1" game? The Cowboys went for it and were stopped, but the officials came up with some bizarre ruling and let Dallas play the down over. Barry Switzer had his guys go for it again and Emmitt Smith was stuffed. That was an amazing moment. One of my favorite games was in October of 1992 when the Eagles beat Dallas on Monday night to go to 4-0. Reggie White, Seth Joyner and Byron Evans were physically dominant and the score was 31-7. Great memories.

Not all Cowboys-Eagles games are so pleasant to recall. There was the Sunday night game in 2007 when Dallas won in a rout. The signature play was Jason Witten catching a ball over the middle, getting hit, losing his helmet and then running another 30 yards down the field without his helmet. Back in 2005, the Eagles were 4-4 and hosting the Cowboys for a Monday night game. The team was on a two-game losing streak. Donovan McNabb led the Eagles to a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter. He dropped back to pass late in the game and threw to the right side. Safety Roy Williams picked off the pass and ran it back 46 yards for a touchdown. McNabb was hurt trying to make the tackle and missed the rest of the year. That essentially ended the 2005 season. Darren Woodson did a similar thing in 1994 when he picked off Randall Cunningham in a tight game and ran the pick back for a score. Not a lot of people remember that, but it was one of my worst moments as an Eagles fan. Brutal.

The Eagles would love to add Sunday's showdown as a chapter to the good memories section. In order for that to happen, the team must find a way to contain linebacker DeMarcus Ware. He is a disruptive playmaker, with nine sacks and four forced fumbles already this year. You can bet Dallas will move him around to try and find good matchups for him, as well as try to keep the Eagles from getting desired double teams on him. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will build the gameplan around trying to control him.

Even when Jason Peters was on the field, Ware still required some special planning. Now that the Eagles have four backups starting on the offensive line, the coaches have to be very smart in how to deal with Ware. I expect more running, both at him and away from him. The running backs will be used to chip block on Ware. Tight ends will be kept in on some pass plays. It might be smart to run an end around with DeSean Jackson to help slow down Ware. That will force him to read run plays instead of just firing upfield after the runner.

Lawlor

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.

The Eagles’ line can get the job done in this game. It will be a huge challenge, but they can do a good enough job for the offense to move the ball and score points. It is crucial that the coaches give them a smart gameplan. They also need Michael Vick to be careful about holding the ball too long on pass plays. The quicker he gets the ball out, the less pressure on the line to block. If they have some success early, it will help a lot with their confidence. The skill players can do their part by turning some short plays into big plays. Avoiding penalties will be critical. Getting into situations like second-and-20 or third-and-15 will be asking for trouble. You don't want Dallas being able to just go crazy with the blitz. This line needs help. The blocking will not be perfect. There is a reason these guys were backups.

I do expect Dallas to be very aggressive on defense. They will blitz. The Eagles must find a way to burn the blitz. One way to do this is for the Eagles wide receivers to win one-on-one matchups with cornerbacks. This can mean catching a pass down the field for a big play or catching a short pass and then getting by the defender and turning that into a big gain. Quick passes to LeSean McCoy could also serve as blitz beaters. These can be screen passes or swing passes. Get McCoy in space and let him do his thing.

Turnovers are going to be a mystery part of the game. The Eagles turn it over. The Cowboys turn it over. Which team can hold onto the ball this week? Which team can come up with takeaways? The Eagles defense does have more interceptions and forced fumbles. If Todd Bowles can get his guys to make a couple of plays, that could be the difference in this game. Dallas does do a good job of playing defense after a turnover. If the Eagles get their hands on an interception or fumble, it is crucial to try and take it all the way back. Dallas has given up three defensive touchdowns and lost all three games. They have also given up a pair of special teams touchdowns. They lost those games as well.

The pass rush did come alive a bit in New Orleans. The Eagles had a pair of strip-sacks. The Cowboys offensive line isn't one of the team’s strong units. Tony Romo has been sacked 14 times, but the line has also had their share of penalties. Eagles pass rushers can have impact in the game by getting to Romo or by getting the linemen to commit penalties. The Cowboys guards are just as vulnerable as the tackles, believe it or not. They've allowed seven sacks this season. Fletcher Cox, Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton will have a chance to get to Romo. You also wonder if Bowles will have Trent Cole and Jason Babin attack the middle more from creative sets.

If the Eagles are going to win the game, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie need to get back on track. They've had a rough couple of weeks. Rodgers-Cromartie looked like a Pro Bowl player up until the Falcons game. He needs to get back to playing at that level. I'm sure he'll be all over Dez Bryant.

Rodgers-Cromartie told the media that the Eagles defense has a reputation with some other teams as being soft. I hope that fires up the defense to come out and be physical. They don't need to go nuts and get a bunch of penalties. Just go hit Cowboys hard every chance you get. Be smart, but be physical. The tackling wasn't very good in the Saints game. That must change. Defenders must attack targets and run through them, not just to them. Getting in proper position and taking good angles is also crucial. Last week, there were defenders getting close and then reaching. That is unacceptable. That is bad defense. Attack the ball.

The Eagles have lost four games in a row. It is time to stop that and start getting things turned around. It would also be great to beat Dallas and drop the Cowboys to 3-6. The look on Jerry Jones face would be priceless. Let's hope Sunday is one of those games that is memorable for all the right reasons. A lot has gone off-kilter this year. Beating Dallas would sure help to make life a lot more fun.

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