Good morning, Eagles fans! Happy Friday. The Birds have one more full practice today before squaring off against Dallas at home on Sunday night. Head coach Doug Pederson will speak to the media at 10:30 a.m. and we will carry that live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft beginning with the significant quarterback faceoff.
1. Dak vs. Wentz: Episode III
When the Eagles face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday for the first time this season, it will be the third meaningful faceoff between two quarterbacks, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. Dallas took the first one in a 2016 overtime win in Dallas and the Eagles took the second with a 37-9 drubbing on the road.
It's safe to say that the Eagles believe they made the right pick with the second overall selection in 2016. But in that first season, there were questions about if the Eagles made the right move taking Wentz as the Cowboys went 13-3 with Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Eagles finished 7-9. Eagles' Insider Dave Spadaro revisits that debate and fills in some context with what we know now:
Dallas has not had the same kind of success offensively, or from a team perspective. Elliott was suspended last season and played in only 10 games as his numbers plummeted to 983 rushing yards and seven touchdowns scored. Prescott threw 22 touchdown passes last season, not far off from his rookie year, but his interception total skyrocketed to 13. The Cowboys slipped out of the playoff picture after a preseason of hype and huge expectations.
Philadelphia, of course, won Super Bowl LII.
2. Slowing Zeke
The Cowboys' offense hasn't put up tremendous numbers this season but it still has prolific playmakers. The most dangerous of all is Elliott. His ability to get downhill yards behind a tough offensive line is the foundation of the Cowboys' attack. His ability to break free for big gains is what makes him one of the best backs in the league. Fran Duffy broke down the tape of the Dallas offense in his Eagle Eye column to show fans what to look out for when the Eagles are on defense:
The run game always comes back to Elliott though. He's a player who the Eagles obviously must account for at all times. The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per carry (4.94) and rushing yards per game (136.9). Stop Zeke on the ground and it goes a LONG way toward stopping this offense and keeping it out of the red zone.
3. Injury Report
The Eagles were without running back Darren Sproles in practice as he sat out with a hamstring injury. He joined cornerbacks Jalen Mills (foot) and Sidney Jones (hamstring) as well as running back Corey Clement (illness) as players who did not participate in practice Thursday. More details about the key injuries on for the Eagles and Cowboys are available in the latest injury report.
4. Happy Anniversary, Steagles
In a bizarre season 75 years ago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia did the seemingly impossible and joined their football teams together. For one season, the Eagles and the Steelers combined to form a team dubbed the Steagles as man power was short in the height of World War II.
It was a difficult task with practices facing scheduling issues and home games divided between Shibe Park in Philadelphia and Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Not to mention, two coaches with dominant personalities in the Steelers' Walt Kiesling and the Eagles' Greasy Neale had to find a way to work together. Against the odds, the Steagles actually finished with a 5-4-1 record marking the first winning season for the Eagles since their founding in 1933. Ray Didinger looks back on the unthinkable 1943 season in a piece that also can be found in this Sunday's Gameday Magazine:
"It sounds like we had a big advantage, putting two teams together as one," said Eagles Hall of Fame tackle Al Wistert, who was a rookie on that team. "But all it meant was we had twice as many lousy players. Look at the teams. The Eagles had never had a winning season and the Steelers were almost as bad."
5. Irvine's Influence
Robert Irvine is an English-born celebrity chef who has cooked for countless important events. But the meals the veteran of the Royal Navy cares about most are the ones that make a difference. Irvine, who became an Eagles fan after coming to a game with a friend in 1997, has toured the world with The Robert Irvine Foundation. After visiting the home of his favorite NFL team, Irvine sat down with Chris McPherson to reflect on why giving back to veterans is so important to him:
"As long as I have breath in my lungs I will dedicate my life to supporting our military and their families," Irvine says. "If it can help raise awareness about the needs of our veterans and the urgency required in tending to those needs, then I am very happy to do it."