Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles are back in the building today ready to attack this short week ahead of a huge matchup in Dallas this Sunday. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Mike Groh will speak with the media starting at 12:15 p.m. and we will carry both live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft beginning with a look at what's worked in the last few weeks for our rival.
1. Dallas, Dallas, Dallas
Sunday will be the biggest game of the year for the Eagles and all eyes are locked in on Dallas. With a win, the Eagles will be in the first place in the NFC East and control their own destiny in the playoff push. They will take on a Cowboys team that has surged forward since beating the Eagles in Philadelphia on November 11. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro broke down what Dallas has done in its winning streak and what the Eagles can do to slow them down:
“It seems like our game kind of sparked them, kind of got them going a little bit,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday. “One thing is, they’re relying on their run game, they’re putting the ball in Zeke’s (Ezekiel Elliott) hands and they’re successful offensively doing that. I think the other thing, when you look at their defense right now, they’re a little more consistent on defense with the guys that they have. They’ve got Jaylon Smith in there and (Leighton) Vander Esch and they’re young, athletic linebackers who are playing well and they’ve got (Randy) Gregory and (DeMarcus) Lawrence coming off the edge and they’re game-wreckers. This defense is playing fast and they’re playing faster than they were a month ago.
“Our work is definitely cut out for us. We have to have a good week of preparation.”
2. Reasons For Excitement
The Eagles won a game they had to have on Monday and remain in contention for the NFC East crown. It's been a difficult season but the Eagles finally have put together back-to-back wins and it wasn't by accident. Tommy Lawlor writes that there are many reasons to be optimistic about this Eagles team as several units on both sides of the ball have begun to play their best football of the season. One major reason for the turnaround has been the play of the offensive line that shined on Monday night:
The big boys up front have really gotten the run game going. The Eagles ran for 127 yards last week and 130 more on Monday night. You absolutely have to give some credit to the running backs, but the line is a big reason for that success.
Jason Kelce did a great job on Darren Sproles' touchdown run. Kelce got wide and sustained his initial block. He was then able to take out another defender, giving Sproles a path to the end zone. Jason Peters got the best of defensive lineman Jonathan Allen on multiple run plays, opening big lanes for Corey Clement and Josh Adams.
The offensive line didn't give up any sacks against Washington. They gave Carson Wentz time to find his receivers and get them the ball. When the runners have room and the quarterback has time, the offense is going to come alive.
3. Outta Pocket
Carson Wentz looked as comfortable on Monday as he had all season. While the offensive line protected him from any sacks, Wentz exceled outside of the pocket in his 27-of-39, 306 yards, and two-touchdown night. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Wentz completed 6 of 7 passes outside of the pocket for a career-high 100 yards. Many of those plays were play-action as Wentz also set a career-high with 163 yards on play-action passes. Wentz's ability to extend plays and make throws on the run adds a different dimension to the offense and it was a big reason for the offense's success against Washington:
“Play-action, boots, and nakeds and stuff are something that we always thought kind of our bread and butter, especially on first and second down,” Wentz said. “Getting the run game going, really opens up those things. Gets me on the edge, gets me a chance to make some plays, and gets some guys down the field and underneath to make some plays down the field. I think we used it effectively tonight.”
4. Injury Report
On the injury front, head coach Doug Pederson announced in his Tuesday afternoon press conference that Tim Jernigan and Jason Peters, who both left Monday's game early, are on track to play against Dallas this week. Linebacker Jordan Hicks and safety Avonte Maddox are close while cornerback Jalen Mills is a little "further away." All eyes will be on them when practice resumes today.
5. Team of the Week
Brandon Brooks made Pro Football Focus' Week 13 Team of the Week as the right guard after an impressive night against Washington:
Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles – 86.2 overall grade
Brooks didn’t allow a single sack, hit or hurry from 42 pass-blocking snaps in the Eagles’ win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football. Brooks has allowed nine total pressures all season, but none in the past five games.