I'm cleaning out the notebook from Sunday's game against the Rams and it's hard to look at much else besides the offense. What happens, the Rams learned, when a defense concentrates so much of its efforts into stopping Brian Westbrook? The rest of the offense steps up and moves up and down the field. Dallas was watching on Sunday, and the Cowboys have since studied the film and they are going to have a game plan in place to get after the Eagles' attack.
What do the Eagles do to counter what should be an aggressive, blitzing Dallas defense on Monday night?
It is one of the many questions to ponder this week. I'm quite sure that DeMarcus Ware, Pacman Jones, Terence Newman and Anthony Henry have heard just about all they want to hear about Donovan McNabb, and about DeSean Jackson and about an offense that rang up 522 total net yards in the opener. Dallas is going to come after the Eagles. The Cowboys aren't going to let McNabb sit in the pocket and pick the secondary apart. They're going to try to pressure McNabb and take him out of his comfort zone.
The boffo first game, combined with a Monday night prime-time game, presents an interesting challenge for the offense, particularly the wide receivers. After days and weeks and months and years of working hard to prove the critics wrong, the wide receivers now have to live up to the standard they set on Sunday.
Instead of hearing that "they can't do it," the wide receivers and the players in this offense have to go out and dominate again. Thirty-eight points is, you know, a lofty goal and against an outstanding defense like Dallas has, hey, we can dream a bit here. No doubt, though, the Cowboys are going to go with one of two choices: Focus on Westbrook and don't let him carve the defense apart and make the rest of the offense move the chains, or take some of the attention away from Westbrook and point it in the direction of Jackson and L.J. Smith and the rest of the skill-position players.
"I understand how they might approach it if those are the choices, but we have to prepare for everything and continue to work hard," said wide receiver Hank Baskett, who had a 90-yard catch and run for a touchdown against the Rams. "Our job is to go out and beat our man. If we see man-to-man coverage, we have to get open and give Donovan a target. It doesn't change. We played well on Sunday. But if you live in the past in the NFL, you're in trouble.
"Dallas has a great team. We have to play our best on Monday night."
Will Dallas load up with eight men in the box to stop Westbrook and trust the corners and safeties to play man coverage against the receivers? Is a two-deep zone something the Cowboys like to play? Does Dallas think the Eagles would wilt against the blitz?
This is a different Eagles team playing Dallas than the team last year that just never got it all together. Offensively, the Eagles showed on Sunday that they have some weapons beyond Westbrook. The Cowboys are going to come after the Eagles. How will the Eagles counter and beat the pressure, the expectations and the hype?
NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- Don't you feel good that the Eagles went out and signed Asante Samuel and have so many talented cover players on this defense with Dallas approaching? Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson spoke to the media on Sunday and said he might consider using Lito Sheppard against wide receiver Terrell Owens on Monday night, but we will see. Owens is a handful, but the Eagles have some good cornerbacks. All three of Dallas' receiving weapons -- Owens, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Patrick Crayton -- had strong games in Cleveland.
- The big hit on Steven Jackson by Sheldon Brown was a highlight-film moment for years to come, but the fact is that Jackson, who caught the pass, didn't seem to run too hard after that play. He felt it, for sure.
- Staying on the defensive theme, I'm really impressed by the play of the Eagles defensive tackles. Mike Patterson had a great game and looked better than last season in his pass-rush game. With Chris Clemons still not where the coaching staff wants him to be, Patterson teamed up in the nickel with Juqua Parker, Darren Howard and Trent Cole. Good work.
- I want to see more of Correll Buckhalter and Lorenzo Booker, but I'm a greedy guy. I loved the inside handoff to Buckhalter on second and goal from the 8-yard line on the first drive. Buckhalter gained 7 yards up the gut and then the Eagles scored on a shovel pass to Westbrook on the next snap.
- Dan Klecko is about as versatile a player as I have ever seen. He lined up at tackle and played well for the defense, and then he blew up the line of scrimmage when he lined up as a fullback on a goal-line handoff to Tony Hunt that went into the end zone.
- I would give you the rankings in the NFL, where the Eagles are No. 1 in pass offense and total offense. But I won't. Too often, we find that that first couple of weeks in the NFL are a mirage.