Dallas Cowboys News: Getting Ready For "High Leverage Game" Against Eagles

The success of the Romo to Witten connection could be a deciding factor on Sunday.

Cowboys vs Eagles is "High Leverage Game of the Week" - Advanced NFL Stats
The guys at AdvancedNFLstats.com have calculated the playoff probabilities for both the Cowboys and the Eagles, depending on who wins on Sunday, and they've summarized it in the nifty little table below.

Playoff Probability PHI Win DAL Win
DAL 54% 78%
PHI 30% 9%

The swing in playoff probabilities is so significant, depending on the outcome of the game, that the Cowboys vs Eagles matchup has been dubbed the "High Leverage Game of the Week".

Eagles facing toughest test of season so far in Cowboys - mcall.com
This report comes straight from the Lehigh Valley Newspaper, where the Eagles conduct their annual training camps, and argues that the Eagles could be facing their toughest NFC East opponent of the season on Sunday, as Dallas may have more playmakers on offense and defense than any other team.

Bottom line: the Cowboys have more ways to hurt teams than anybody in the division, and the Eagles will not be able to even hang with them, much less beat them, without bringing their best game with them to Lincoln Financial Field.

Much more news after the break...

Eagles LB Jamar Chaney on Jason Witten and what makes him so tough to play against - PhiladelphiaEagles.com
The Eagles mothership has an interesting collection of player quotes from Michael Vick, Ronnie Brown, Evan Mathis and Mike Patterson up on their site, in which the players reflect on the upcoming game against the Cowboys. It's actually a quite insightful batch of quotes and well worth a read on its own.

But the standout quote was from LB Jamar Chaney, who describes what's so special about Jason Witten as succinctly as I've ever seen it done anywhere:

"Well he runs great routes. I mean, he’s somebody that’s good, but you know, there are certain levels. I mean, when you’re good like he is you can just stay good or you can work on your craft and continue to get better, and that’s something he continues to do. I think that’s what makes him great (is) that he continues to work and continues to get better. So that’s one thing special about him because when you see other tight ends they’re good but they don’t go to the next level."

In the context of this quote, I was reminded of what DeMarco Murray said about Jason Witten after his own breakout performance after the Rams game:

"I work hard man. I see Jason Witten, he’s one of the guys I constantly - I'm going to be honest - I copy him. Just the way he carries himself on and off the field, the way he works hard, the way he's so focused on football and it's a business to him. And he wants to win. So I got all the same supplements that he got from The Vitamin Shoppe. He's a great guy, great leader. Romo has definitely helped me out a lot as well."

This gives me even more confidence in Murray's future than his performance against the Rams did.

Dez Bryant plays Michael Vick in Dallas Cowboys practice - ESPN Dallas
It's not easy simulating Michael Vick in practice, but the Cowboys found an unconventional way to do it: Dez Bryant played quarterback Michael Vick in practice. Bryant, also a lefty, may have the strongest arm on the team, and is also fast. His teammates were suitably impressed.

"He gave us a good look," outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. Added Ware who laughed, "He was fast. I was in front of him and I made the tackle."

"He can throw the ball 60 yards, and it looks like it’s on a frozen rope like Vick’s is too, with that lefty spin," inside linebacker Sean Lee added. "...[Bryant's imitation] was dead on. The way he runs. The way he moves. Their play-making ability."

Jerry Jones likes his offensive line with the additions of Holland and Dockery - Star-Telegram
Montrae Holland turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys last week, and Derrick Dockery was back at practice on Wednesday for the first time since his injury against the 49ers. Jerry Jones said the post-training-camp additions of Dockery and Holland have helped the offensive line:

"We are better than what I ever thought we would be, including depth," Jones said Thursday. "I didn’t have any aspirations that we would be where we are coming out of training camp, even though we’ve lost Nagy [to a season-ending ankle injury]. The reason being is getting Holland and getting Dockery as well. That really gives us not only the kind of numbers for depth, but it also gives us a heck of a base. It gives us an anchor. That is something that when you go a little smaller in the offensive line, you give that up some. To have both those guys back in here now, but particularly the way Holland played the other day, really is the best we’ve been in the offensive line certainly we’re better than when we were lining up this time last year."

Ryan has backed up big talk, revved up Cowboys' D - MiamiHerald.com
Jamie Aron from the Associated Press filed this report, in which he returns to Rob Ryan's comments about the all-hype team, but also shows how Ryan's play-calling and personality have transformed Dallas into the top-ranked defense in the NFC:

  • Dallas has allowed the fewest yards rushing in the NFL.
  • Only five teams allow fewer yards per play.
  • Nobody has scored a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cowboys.
  • The Cowboys have given up just nine points in the opening period.
  • They held New England to 20 points, shattering the Patriots' streak of 13 straight games with at least 30 points.

Aron points out that the Cowboys are doing this with basically the same personnel that allowed franchise-high points and yards last season.

 "I give him 100 percent credit," star linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "He always talks about the players go out there and make the plays, but he gets out there and gives us the opportunity to do that."

Dez Bryant hurts foot but OK - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas
The Cowboys had a scare in practice yesterday, when Bryant apparently hurt his right foot on a punt return drill. Bryant stayed on the ground for a minute and took his shoe off, but waved off trainer Jim Maurer. Bryant rejoined training shortly thereafter, but whether Bryant should continue to have a role on special will remain a hotly debated topic.

McBriar on official injury report - Star-Telegram
Punter Mat McBriar suffered a left foot injury sometime earlier this week. He showed up to practice on Wednesday with a brace on his left (non-kicking) foot, and participated fully in practice yesterday. Nevertheless, the Cowboys put him on the injury report. As a precaution, the Cowboys also worked out punter Chris Jones on Thursday. Jones was with the Cowboys for the entire training camp this year and was released when the team cut the roster to the league-mandated 53 players.

Bruce Carter will be active Sunday, so a cut is coming - Star-Telegram
According to linebacker Bruce Carter, he'll be active on Sunday. Carter worked with the first team punt units in practice and is likely to see action on special teams against the Eagles. The Cowboys currently do not have a roster sport for Carter, so a cut is coming. Candidates whose names have popped up are receiver Jesse Holley, offensive tackle Jermey Parnell, offensive guard Daniel Loper and kicker David Buehler.

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