Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and the Eagles' defense are in a difficult position heading into their playoff rematch against the Dallas Cowboys. McDermott acknowledged that his defense was a little too passive in last week's 24-0 loss in Dallas, but he also knows that Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo has been a force against the blitz this year.
"We blitzed on one of the first or second runs there that they broke off and didn't execute the blitz the right way," McDermott said of last week's game. "Then we backed off the blitz a little bit which I take responsibility for; I should not have done that. There are always going to be blitzes in every game plan and there were blitzes in that game plan just by situation. We're just not going to go out and blitz carelessly or aimlessly. We're blitzing with a purpose and remaining fundamentally sound within and around that blitz."
Romo said that he expects McDermott and the Eagles' defense to bring a wide array of blitzes in the wild card matchup.
"Obviously, going up against the Eagles, they're a team that thrives on pressure," Romo said on his conference call with Philadelphia reporters. "I think they're going to bring a lot of stuff at us this week. They pressured us a little more in the first game this year. I expect them to do a little more of that than the way they did this last time, so we have to prepared for that with out play-calling and we have to have stuff up this week to handle the blitz and to kind of get into some different things that will give us a good chance."
Romo and Cowboys' head coach Wade Phillips agreed that Romo has improved against the blitz this season.
"Just his ability to make quick decisions," Phillips said of Romo's improvements. His ability "to see what's happening and to be able to move around sometimes and avoid the blitz and to make a big play. He's done that time after time."
Romo posted the best regular season numbers of his career in 2009. His 4,483 passing yards were a career-high; as was his quarterback rating (97.6) and touchdown to interception ration (26 to 9). He's also been on the top of his game against the Eagles, topping 300 yards passing in both games.
"They're a good football team, there's no way around that," Romo said of the Eagles. "They're going to play a good football game. They're going to have a good scheme ready to go. They're going to come after us defensively and we have to be prepared for that. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
Of course, Romo's success against the Eagles this season only places more pressure on the Cowboys' quarterback. Romo has never won a playoff game and he carries the burden of the Cowboys not having won a playoff game since 1996. But Romo is confident that he's ready to break that string.
"You always look at yourself from an outside perspective and try to get better," Romo said. "I've just improved since the last time I've played in (the playoffs), but it doesn't guarantee anything."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:30 p.m., January 9