The Dallas Cowboys present myriad challenges for the Eagles on Monday night – a special teams until featuring a placekicker who has been central in the team's first two games and an explosive return game, an offense that is downright prolific with quarterback Dak Prescott on the field and a defense that leads the NFL in takeaways. The task is a tall one for the Eagles as they prepare for Monday Night Football and their first and only taste of the NFC East until Week 12 (November 28, New York Giants). The team's coordinators met the media on Wednesday to discuss their respective units heading into this game ...
JONATHAN GANNON, defensive coordinator
With end Brandon Graham sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Eagles need others to step up, and in Jonathan Gannon's mind, the defense has the pieces to be productive.
"Everyone has to try to fill that void collectively, because one guy is not going to be able to do that," he said. "We do feel good about the leaders that we still have within the defense, really good about the leaders that we have. From the standpoint of the roles that he was playing, other guys are going to have to step in and fill where he was playing at, and we feel good about the players that we have."
The ability to be versatile has been important in Gannon's defense, one that ranks second in points allowed and fourth in fewest yards per game permitted. Gannon will continue to move pieces around to create the most favorable matchups for the Eagles' defense. Gannon's defense has not yet taken the football away through two games, but he feels confident those takeaways will happen.
"We've done some good things and, like everybody, myself included, you'd like to have a couple of plays back from both of those games," Gannon said. "I think that you saw some hands on the ball last week and those will come. It's like the head coach (Nick Sirianni) talks about, 'What you know is to be true, you keep doubling down on that process in how we practice and how we prepare, how we talk about taking the ball away, they will come.' So, I'm not real concerned about that."
This would be a great week to get some takeaways against a Dallas offense that averages 24.5 points and 435 yards per game in its 1-1 start.
SHANE STEICHEN, offensive coordinator
All eyes are on Dallas first-round draft pick Micah Parsons, who moved from linebacker to defensive end last week with end DeMarcus Lawrence sidelined after suffering a fractured foot in practice. Parsons has been an impact rookie and Shane Steichen is well aware of his capabilities.
"He's a heck of a player. Obviously, he had a lot of pressures last week against the Chargers," Steichen said. "He comes off the ball. He's got a lot of speed. You can see it on film. Good on the edge, he's good inside as well. He's going to be a heck of a challenge for us. We gotta know where he is on the field and be ready for these guys. We'll be ready."
Steichen said that the loss of right guard Brandon Brooks "hurts," but that in the "next man up mentality" rookie Landon Dickerson was that guy against San Francisco and "did a good job." Looking ahead, Steichen said he is "excited about Landon going forward." Brooks was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Sirianni has yet to announce who will start at right guard on Monday against the Cowboys.
Steichen said that left tackle Jordan Mailata had an "impressive" outing against San Francisco's elite defensive end Nick Bosa, an important step in his development.
MICHAEL CLAY, special teams coordinator
Philadelphia's coverage units have been outstanding in two games and will get a look at CeeDee Lamb in the punt return game on Monday night. Lamb has just one return for 12 yards in two games, but Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay is well aware of how dangerous Lamb can be.
"I've always been a fan of CeeDee Lamb, even with his time at Oklahoma in terms of his punt return ability," Clay said. "We played against him last year when I was in San Francisco. He's a very fluid athlete. He catches the ball well. He's going to take some chances, but these are all calculated chances. Not like he goes off the reservation or goes rogue or something like that. He's a strong runner and very elusive. So, it has to take a full team effort. One, it starts with our protection. (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) runs some very good games. Knowing (Fassel) the past four and a half, five years, with him being in LA and playing them last year, we got to get that ball off, be stout in protection.
"Then, once (punter) Arryn (Siposs) gives us a good ball to go cover, there's got to be 10 other guys going down there trying to corral him. It's got to be a full team effort to get him down. You're not going to expect one-on-one tackles a lot with an athlete like CeeDee Lamb. So, it all starts with, one, the protection; two, Arryn giving us a good ball for us to cover; and then everybody else getting off the blocks and making a good team effort to get CeeDee down because he is a very good punt returner."
Clay also diagnosed the 47-yard field goal attempt from Jake Elliott that the 49ers blocked on Sunday, saying it was a confluence of things that contributed to the block.
"(49ers defensive tackle Javon) Kinlaw made a heck of a play," Clay said. "Just looking at it and seeing things being really critical, like, he jumped up, timed it perfectly. There was a little wind right there that Jake had to get through. Obviously, we'd love to get all of our points, especially inside 50 yards. But once again, credit to Kinlaw. He got up there, he timed it perfectly. He got his big paw up there, he's a first-round draft pick for a reason. He did that in (college at) South Carolina. It's not like we didn't know they had a good rush team for the most part. It's just one of those things where you hate for it to happen, but it happened. And we don't want that to happen again."