It's 5 Questions time, and for this game I exchanged with BleedGreen, or you may know him as JB from comments on this blog. He runs the SB Nation blog, Bleeding Green Nation, the home for the Philadelphia Eagles. Below are his responses to my questions, and you can read my responses to his, here.
BleedGreen: More than anything I think it's what Andy Reid/Marty Mornigwheg did. I don't want to take anything away from Garcia, because he has stepped in and performed very well under tremendous pressure.... The guy has played like the smart, solid, veteran he is. However, the turnaround of this team can be traced to the change in philosophy. With McNabb in, Andy became enamored with the fact that he had a QB that could throw the ball 70% of the time and could launch a ball 60+ yards downfield. Therefore the Eagles became a feast or famine offense that lived on the big play. Clearly it was feast the last time they played Dallas... The problem was that not every game could we hit on 2 or 3 70 yard TDs and the offense wasn't controlling the clock. So the defense was always tired and always was soft at the end of games.
Since Garcia has taken over, Andy & Marty (who I give a ton of credit to) have changed this offense into a more balanced and more traditional west coast offense. They've played to Garcia's strengths and they've relied more heavily on their best offensive weapon, Brian Westbrook. So now the Eagles are running the ball as much and sometimes more than they throw it, and low and behold it's successful. Plus, that ball control mentality helped the defense hold Tiki Barber and the entire Giants team to under 100 yards rushing.
BTB: In the first game, you guys were able to beat up Bledsoe pretty bad and force mistakes. Do you think the defense will have more problems containing Tony Romo? Will they do anything different because of a different Dallas QB?
BG: Well, I think they'll still look to bring pressure. That's just what Jim Johnson (defensive coordinator) does. However, I think they'll look to bring it up the middle. It seems that Romo struggles most when he is confined to the pocket and I think the Eagles will do their best to not flush him out to the edges.
BTB: How has Andy Reid done this year as a coach? He seems to be using the run more this year, but is the play-calling substantially different?
BG: I suppose I kinda jumped the gun on this question in my answer to #1... Basically, early in the season everything was throwing 60 yards downfield every play, now it's a lot more running mixed with a more rhythm passing game. They actually ran more than they passed last week! Actually an interesting stat is that the Eagles have never lost under Reid when they ran more than they passed...
BTB: How's the T.O. situation playing out with the Philly fans now? Has some of the passion he arouses ebbed yet? How has the Philly media been handling it?
BG: It's not nearly what it was early in the season. Whether that's because everyone is just tired of it or because the game is in Dallas I'm not sure. My guess is that it's a little bit of both. Certainly the fervor was always going to be hotter when TO was actually coming to our town...
Frankly, the email and sentiment I got from Eagles fans about the latest TO incident with the spitting was that they were all just glad they don't have to be the ones dealing with it anymore. I share that sentiment.
BTB: Give us the game plan that will allow Philly to come to Dallas and win a primetime game to take control of the NFC East.
BG: Control the ball. Establish the run, work the high percentage rhythm passing game and win the time of possession battle. I think that's where everything is won or lost. I think both of these offenses are more than capable of putting up a lot of points on these defenses. The game is going to come down to which offense can prevent the other from getting on the field more often. If Dallas has the opportunity to hold the ball and work their run game, I highly doubt the Eagles front 7 will be able to stop them.
I also think that defensively the Eagles are going to have to force a turnover like they have the past few games, which I think is possible. If there's one chink in Romo's armor, it's that he's averaged over a pick a game. If the Eagles secondary, which has been red hot lately, can get a turnover it just may be what decides this game. Of course, it goes without saying that the Eagles offense must play 100% mistake free and not turn the ball over.
Bottom line is that it's very, very difficult to go on the road and win against a divisional opponent. The only way you do it by limiting mistakes and controlling the ball. Unless you play the Redskins that is... then you can play as bad as you want and still win!