When the teams played on October 30, the Eagles scored the first six times they had the football -- it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Eagles were forced to punt. Vick completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dallas' DeMarcus Ware sacked Vick four times, but they had very little impact in the game.
The Eagles thwarted Ryan's pressure package by picking up his blitzes and attacked the defense with a potent mix of the running game and Vick finding his receivers open all over the field.
Last Sunday, against the Jets, Rex Ryan played more of a "mush rush" philosophy against Vick with equally disastrous results. The Eagles went up and down the field on New York en route to a huge win and Vick was again outstanding, completing 15 of 22 passes for a touchdown, and dashing to the left pylon for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
These were two epic Vick performances against distinctly different defensive approaches.
What will Rob Ryan try on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium?
The expectation here is that Ryan will go after Vick, that he will order a lot of pre-snap movement and that Dallas will try to confuse Vick and overload his mind and then try to hit his body with blitzes.
Vick, then, has a lot to handle. There are going to be 90,000-plus Cowboys fans going bananas on Christmas Eve, so the Eagles have practiced this week with noise, lots of it, in their indoor practice facility at the NovaCare Complex. Dallas wants to increase its tempo defensively and aggressively take the Eagles offense out of its rhythm from the get-go.
Vick's role is as the point guard of the offense. If he digests what he sees and trusts his eyes and calls out the proper adjustments to Dallas' defense, Vick has won half the battle. Then it's Vick's job to make his reads and distribute the football quickly.
Tempo, tempo, tempo, as head coach Andy Reid is always preaching at practice. If we see Vick throwing the football quickly, he's going to have a chance at a big day. If he is holding on and moving around the trying to buy time with his legs to avoid the pass rush, and if he is taking a lot of hits from the Cowboys, look for trouble. Look for mistakes. Worry about turnovers.
Vick holds the key to the offense, of course. He was cognizant last week of avoiding contact and of moving the football around to
Huge game, big stage. Should the game still matter as far as the state of the NFC East is concerned -- if the Jets beat the Giants at 1 p.m. -- the Eagles have a chance to keep their season alive. The game means something to both teams then.
And Vick has to be the big-game quarterback who wins a huge road game. The path to greatness includes these kinds of games, ones Vick has played in and won many times in his career. This is the latest test to see just how far he has come in this new and improved phase of his career.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Will cornerback
Asante Samuelplay against Dallas? It's a fair question that probably doesn't have an answer right now. The Eagles want to see where Samuel is at on Saturday before the game. His hamstring injury is making progress, but he wasn't able to practice enough all week to get the green light.
- Dallas' injury situation is a bit more complicated. Running back Felix Jones hasn't practiced all week, and while it is expected that he will play, the next question is how long he could go before his hamstring tightens up again. Behind Jones is veteran Sammy Morris, a quality player but not the home-run threat that Jones brings to the table.
- Ware has been bothered by a stinger injury of late. I just wonder how that has affected his play.
- The Pro Bowl teams are announced next week. The Eagles will likely be represented by running back
LeSean McCoy, left tackle Jason Petersand defensive end Jason Babin, at the very least. What about defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins? How about Samuel and fellow cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha? Safety Kurt Colemanhas four interceptions, right? How about the job right tackle Todd Herremanshas done? Defensive end Trent Coleis having a terrific season, but his sack numbers probably aren't high enough to get the votes.
- Who wins the team's Ed Block Courage Award, which the players voted on the other day? I say it will be either defensive tackle
Mike Pattersonor wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, two very deserving players.
- On the injury front as well, Dallas hasn't had wide receiver Kevin Ogletree all week in practice. He is Dallas' return man and is also a very solid player in the offensive rotation. That could be a significant injury to watch.
- Tight end Brent Celek led the Eagles with 7 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting. He's been a major target of Vick the last couple of weeks. There is every reason to think the Eagles will keep looking Celek's way in this game.
- I said it earlier in the week and I will say it again: the best matchup in this game is center
Jason Kelceagainst nose tackle Jay Ratliff. Kelce, I believe, is going to be a Pro Bowl center in the near future. Let's see how he handles the game's best nose tackle in their second meeting of the season.