One day ago, news broke that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo would not play against the Eagles in Sunday's regular season finale/NFC East title game because of a back injury he suffered against Washington. In his place will be veteran backup Kyle Orton. The reaction, naturally, was one of mass hysteria. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have since come out and refuted the report concerning Romo as premature and not necessarily accurate.
Regardless of what happens with Romo, players on the Eagles defense are not exhaling or relaxing in light of his potential absence.
"It doesn't really affect anything," outside linebacker Connor Barwin said. "There are still 10 other guys out there that are going to be the same and we have to prepare for. Obviously, we'll watch the tape we have on Kyle Orton. He does some things differently that we'll try to prepare for, but it's still the same offense that Dallas will run. They're not going change everything because of the quarterback the last week of the season."
"We're going to have the same preparation as if Tony Romo is going to play," said defensive end Cedric Thornton. "Kyle Orton has started in the NFL before, so we're going to prepare for him to have one of his better games. He's a quarterback who, at any moment, things can click for him. That's an offense with the tools – whether it's DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant or Jason Witten – that can click and score at any moment."
"We're playing the Dallas Cowboys," said defensive end Fletcher Cox, as if to convey the Eagles are not playing the Dallas Romos.
The Eagles were served a harsh reminder two weeks of what can happen when they underestimate an opponent and think a win will come easily. There will be no such letdown this time around.
"I think we learned our lesson against the Vikings when we played (Matt) Cassell and he lit us up," Barwin said. "I don't think anybody's going to take Kyle Orton lightly."
"Definitely," Thornton said. "(That loss to the Vikings) let us know that we are touchable, that any given Sunday, if we don't go out there with the energy, tempo and mindset that we're going to dominate our opponent, we can be dominated."
Against the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, the Eagles were the ones who did the dominating, decisively winning the game in all three phases and blowing out a team that could have wrapped up its division with a victory. The defense, in particular, bounced back in a big way from an embarrassing display against the Vikings, holding the league's second-highest scoring offense to just 11 points and 257 yards, both season lows.
"We're getting better each and every week," cornerback Cary Williams said of the defense. "We're continuing to press towards a mark and pushing toward our goal and trying to complete our mission."
Williams, like his fellow defensive teammates, does not care who is playing for the opposition because it does not alter the Eagles' ultimate goal in any way.
"Right now, especially this late in the season, it's nameless, faceless individuals we're going to face and we have to get a win," Williams said. "It's a must-win for us. It's huge. You win or you go home. As far as I'm concerned, Jerry Jones could suit up, Jason Garrett could suit up, it doesn't matter. It's another opportunity for us to get better as a team, for us to go out there and prove to people that we're a force to be reckoned with."