When you lose by a combined score of 58-14 to the same opponent in back-to-back weeks, it's a total team collapse. With that said, the defense struggled mightily in those two games at Dallas at the end of last season, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo seemingly did what he pleased under center while a trio of solid running backs gashed the Eagles for 377 yards rushing.
With the Sunday night showdown in Arlington, Tx. just around the corner, the Eagles return to the scene of the crime sporting a new defense that's hungry for a dominate performance. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Thursday that when facing a dual-threat Cowboys offense, it's crucial that each player fulfills his own responsibilities.
"It's about making sure you hold up your end of the deal at your position," McDermott said. "So if you're a run player in that specific defense then you stop the run. If you're a pass player, then you dedicate all of your energy and thoughts to stopping the pass.
"It's easy when teams are one-dimensional, but a team like this that is as multi-dimensional as they are with the run and pass, that's why they've been successful on offense in Dallas."
With Jason Garrett now serving as interim head coach in Dallas, the Cowboys offense has suddenly come alive. Quarterback Jon Kitna has posted two games with a 100-plus QB rating (and one game with a rating of 99.4), while a previously non-existent rushing attack has become a clock-eating force to be reckoned with. In four games under Garrett, the Cowboys have averaged 149 yards on the ground and have scored five rushing touchdowns. On the flip side, the Cowboys averaged 76 rushing yards per game and had only two touchdowns in the first eight games.
McDermott said that the Cowboys' improved rushing attack and its ability to control the clock is the biggest difference since the coaching change in Dallas.
"(Garrett has) probably run the ball a little more than he has in the past," McDermott said. "That could be the result of a lot of things. But they've done a good job and they've been successful running the ball so why not stick with it?"
While the season-ending debacle in Dallas is admittedly on the minds of some Eagles players, most have argued that there is too much on the line this year to worry about anything else. McDermott added that with such a new defense, last year is nothing more than a learning tool.
"Last year was last year," he said Thursday morning. "And like I said, we learned from last year. That said, probably over half of this defense wasn't here. So to go back on last year really doesn't do us any good other than to learn scheme-wise what we can do better."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 3:03 p.m., December 9