We all remember last year when the Dallas Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles three times (two regular season games, one playoff game). The Cowboys won all three of those contests, and the last two weren't even close. Dallas beat Philly in Week 8 20-16 in Philadelphia, then crushed the Eagles in consecutive weeks at home, 24-0 and 34-14. It turns out those last two games were a watershed moment for the Eagles organization.
According to several articles in the Philly press this week, the Eagles made a massive overhaul of their team, and to some extent their organization, after the embarrassing back-to-back blowouts. They were now gearing themselves not only to improving their team, but to taking down the Dallas Cowboys. Andy Reid would not admit that when asked earlier this week, but there's a general feeling among the Eagles press, fanbase and some players that getting swept by Dallas last year had broken the team as constructed and that something had to be done.
They jettisoned players like Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Jeremiah Trotter and Sheldon Brown. According to one article, 21 of the 53 players on the playoff roster were not on the team come the 2010 season. There were also changes made in the organization on the coaching and front-office level.
Essentially, the 2009 Dallas Cowboys can take some credit for creating the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles. Now we get a chance to tear it all down again. The Eagles would love nothing more than to pound Dallas, but they were dealt a bad hand by the schedule makers because they didn't get to play Dallas early in the year. Those Cowboys would have been a doormat for the Eagles, now, the Cowboys are competitive again.
Here's how Philly views those two late-season beatdowns from last year, and how they are going to try and correct it.
The Eagles were dominated in nearly every facet. The most glaring disparity was along the lines. The Cowboys' offensive line manhandled the Eagles' front seven in both the run game and in pass protection. Dallas gained 377 yards at 4.9 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Tony Romo, meanwhile, threw for 523 yards, completed 68 percent of his passes, and was sacked only four times.
The Cowboys preyed on an overaggressive defense with draws, screens, and hitch passes.
The Eagles also said that they had been outmuscled by Dallas, especially on defense. So they brought in a new strength and conditioning team and got younger and quicker, drafting players such as defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen and trading for linebacker Ernie Sims and defensive end Darryl Tapp.
They also changed from QB Donovan McNabb, to Kevin Kolb, who eventually gave way to Michael Vick. McNabb didn't play well against the Cowboys last year, but that wasn't his biggest sin. Turns out the Philly fanbase was none too please with McNabb's pre-playoff game actions that preceded his team laying an egg.
If there was one symbol that best summarizes the Eagles’ 2009 late-season collapse, it was Donovan McNabb coming out of the tunnel at Cowboys Stadium and awkwardly playing air guitar for the TV cameras before the wild-card game in Dallas.
So if the Eagles went through all that effort after Dallas pounded them last year, and they come into Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night and lose again - will there be a meltdown in Philly? I sure hope to find out.