Philadelphia Eagles News

The Key To Disrupting DeMarco Is ...


It's one of the most under-appreciated units on the team, the part you forget when it does well but notice when it doesn't. Being an offensive lineman in the NFL is a tough job.

The Cowboys like it that way. For Dallas, its offensive line is its secret weapon.

"They do a really good job," head coach Chip Kelly said. "They've got Zack Martin there, a first-round draft pick who has really fit in. I think their center (Travis Frederick) whom they picked a year ago, he's in his second season, so there's a little bit of continuity. Obviously, they've got (Tyron) Smith at tackle who is outstanding.

"I think one of their strengths right now up front is what they're doing up front."

As running back DeMarco Murray has jumped out to a garish 1,354 yards in just 11 games this season, Dallas' offensive line has been opening up holes left and right for the fourth-year back.

They've also managed to keep quarterback Tony Romo off his back for a fair amount of the season. Romo has been sacked 20 times in 10 games, his lowest sack-per-game average in a season he's played at least 10 games since 2008.

On the short week, the Eagles know they have to prepare for a lot in a little time, and one thing they're keying on is that talented Dallas front five.

"They're aggressive, an aggressive type of line," linebacker Trent Cole explained. "They work, and they do what they can to try and stop whatever pressure there is."

After Sunday's win over the Titans, the Eagles' defenders watched the Cowboys take on the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, where the success of the Dallas offensive line was in full view. Romo had tons of time to throw the ball all night long, tossing four touchdown passes, including the game-winning score late in the fourth quarter.

On that last touchdown, Romo had more than six seconds in the pocket to find wide receiver Dez Bryant in the end zone, something the Eagles know they can't give the veteran quarterback.

"Whatever you say, whatever you're doing, whether you're rushing three or you're rushing four, five, you can't give any quarterback that kind of time," linebacker Connor Barwin said.

When it comes to breaking through the stalwart line and getting to Murray and Romo before they do damage, the plan seems pretty simple.

It all starts with setting the edge.

"You've just got to set the edge, and then you've got to be really under control on the backside," Barwin explained. "If you set the edge well, (Murray) will try to take the cutback lane.

"You have to be really under control and not over-pursue, but then also not be late as well. It's a fine line of not being too fast and not being too slow."

And Kelly said he knows what kind of line the Eagles will be facing on Thanksgiving. Through film study, he's familiar with what Dallas offensive line coach Bill Callahan likes to call, and he'll be ready come Thursday.

"(Callahan) is still their O-line coach and has always done a good job from a scheme standpoint in terms of what they're going to do," Kelly explained. "There are a lot of things, if you've studied Bill and his background, kind of signature plays that he runs, and he's still running them."

While the challenge of breaking through the Cowboys' line, which ranks fourth in pass and run protection according to Pro Football Focus, won't be an easy task, the Eagles have established their plan of attack early in the week.

Today, they'll put that plan into action, something Trent Cole said he has full faith in.

"It's all about winning your one-on-ones," Cole said. "So we've got to go down there and win our one-on-ones, and we should be good."

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