The Eagles quickly moved on from Sunday's loss to Seattle to prepare for a team that they are quite familiar with in the Dallas Cowboys. Not only are the Cowboys division rivals, but the two teams just played each other on Thanksgiving. How will the Eagles adjust their gameplanning for this week? Head coach Chip Kelly explains in this edition of 5 Things To Know Today ...
1. Kelly Expects A Different Cowboys Team
In his exclusive one-on-one with head coach Chip Kelly on Tuesday's episode of Eagles 360, Dave Spadaro asked about the performance of the run defense in the first meeting with Dallas. The Eagles held running back DeMarco Murray to a season-low 73 yards rushing. It was only the second time he's been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing all season. Kelly's response evolved into his thoughts on how the Cowboys will respond after scoring just 10 points against the Eagles on Thanksgiving.
"The chess match that always goes on in games like this, we just played them two games ago, so how much do they change. Do we have to change a little bit because they're changing?" Kelly said. "It's a bit of, 'We think this. They think this,' that's going to work itself out as the game goes along."
Murray wasn't the only player who was kept in check. Wide receiver Dez Bryant had four catches for 73 yards, but gained 38 on them on one reception. He was kept out of the end zone. Tight end Jason Witten, long a thorn in the Eagles' side, had one catch for 8 yards, his lowest output since a 1-10 performance last December 9 against Chicago. What exactly will be different from Dallas in the rematch. Kelly and his coaching staff watched the Cowboys' win last Thursday against the Bears to decipher.
"You try to look into the Chicago game to see what that wrinkle is," Kelly said. "You try to predict what that wrinkle is going to be. Basically, when you're gameplanning for any offense, you need to be sound on the defensive side of the ball when you put your game plan and your preparation in. Just know they have weapons everywhere. We didn't see a whole lot of Dez Bryant on Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean we're not going to see a whole lot of him this Sunday."
2. Barwin Nominated For NFL Sportsmanship Award
The NFL announced the 32 nominees for the first-ever NFL Sportsmanship Award, which will recognize annually NFL players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. Each team selected one players and a panel of players from the NFL Legends Community will narrow the initial list of nominees into a group of eight finalists - four from each conference.
The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot when the players vote on December 19. Each team will submit a consensus vote of its choice for the winner, but cannot select its own player.
The award will be presented each year to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of onfield sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents and integrity in competition.
The winner selected by the vote of the players will be announced during the nationally televised "4th Annual NFL Honors" show on Saturday, January 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX. He will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.
Barwin is worthy of being voted into the Pro Bowl this season. He leads the NFC and is fourth in the league with 13.5 sacks, a career high. He was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month after posting 24 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Off the field, Barwin's Make The World Better Project raised $170,000 to revitalize a park in South Philadelphia. He is also a spokesman for SEPTA, a service he frequently uses, and NRG, with whom he joined on a three-day trip to Haiti this past offseason to install solar panels to provide an orphanage with reliable power.
3. Win Cowboys-Eagles Tickets At Dunkin' Donuts Pep Rally
Dunkin' Donuts Pep Rally will host a pep rally today at the Brooklawn, N.J. location found at the corner of Browning Rd. and Kings Highway. The pep Rally will be from 7-9 AM featuring special appearances from SWOOP and the Eagles Cheerleaders. There will be raffles to win autographed merchandise and ... tickets to Sunday night's Cowboys-Eagles game.
4. Are Defenses Keying In On Sproles?
There is a perception that Darren Sproles' role has been reduced in the second half of the season. Since he missed the Arizona game with a knee injury, Sproles has played 20 or more snaps twice - against Green Bay and Tennessee. Even in the Indianapolis game back in Week 2 when Sproles won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, he played just 25 snaps. On Sunday against Seattle, Sproles had 13 snaps, but finished with 0 yards rushing on just four carries.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur explained on Tuesday that the Eagles haven't changed how they deploy Sproles, but defenses have made it tougher for the running back to get free.
"We've got him out there and there have been times where we intend to get him the ball and we can't for some reason," Sproles said. "The other team is obviously well aware when he's on the field, too. If he's doubled or for some reason he's covered, then you move on.
"I think they became aware of the fact and they quickly remembered what a great player he is. So at times, they will do things to take some of the things that we are trying to do, where we are trying to get the ball to Darren, away."
5. What Does More Rest Mean For Tony Romo?
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was clearly affected by the short week when the Eagles and the Cowboys met on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys played at New York on Sunday night before flying back home to prepare for the Thursday game. Romo, who suffered a broken rib, fractures in his back and underwent back surgery late last season, has had his practice schedule modified to help his recovery.
On Thanksgiving, Romo threw for just 199 yards and had a pair of interceptions. He was sacked four times and would go down before any Eagle was in the vicinity of him. With a normal week of prep before their game against Chicago last Thursday, Romo rebounded with three touchdown passes in the win.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis expects Romo's movement to be much improved this Sunday night.
"You saw in our game the movement of him going down right away and he has great escape ability, and you didn't see that in our game," Davis said. "You just saw him protecting himself a little bit and then in Chicago you didn't. You saw, all right, here we go, let's run around, let's extend the down, let's make some plays and I think we'll see the Tony Romo that we've always seen."
Romo was still held to 26 pass attempts in the Chicago game. The Dallas formula has been to ride Murray (41 touches vs. Chicago) and ask Romo to make a handful of plays. If the Cowboys fall behind 14-0 again ...