Dave and O.C.C. have been having all the fun.
Unable to write, I've basically been void of participating in the early build towards Sunday night's crucial division matchup. On Monday, I couldn't help myself in the news roundup, and hinted at the upcoming opponent with a couple of Philly-centric links at the very end. Of course, the Eagles talk dominated the comments section and it became painfully obvious that I wasn't the only one ready to quickly move past St. Louis and on to a more formidable foe.
Dallas has won four of the last five games against the hated rivals, and each and every one of them felt darn good to me. Yes, even the season-ending, come-from-behind, Stephen McGee-led 14-13 win to finish the year at 6-10. I'm genuinely excited about the opportunity Dallas has to put a cap on Philadelphia's season. In all honesty, this is a game that the Eagles need far more than the Cowboys do; as a loss would put them at 2-5 for the season, and a difficult-to-overcome 0-3 at home. That makes it even more of a big deal in my eyes, the chance to put this team into a deep slumber before the calendar hits November.
Follow the jump for the latest news and notes related to this uber-important matchup that is coming up over the horizon. Links such as this guest appearance at Dallas Morning from a writer at the Philadelphia Enquirer; as he attacks Texas Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, Jimmy Johnson... and even Tom Landry's Hat.
As Halloween creeps around the corner like a a scared-to-death kid that knows a ruthless prank awaits, summer quotes are beginning to lose their freshness a bit. Eagles writers and bloggers, never knowing the experience of winning a Super Bowl, strutted around with their chests full of odeur-de-bovine as if signing big-name free agents guaranteed an immediate championship.
They'd love for everyone to forget the arrogant nature of their digs at the Cowboys when we failed to land the big free agent fish, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Admittedly, Jerry Jones made matters worse when he appeared on a radio show under the impression the team had acquired the star; only to be let in on the joke by the show's hosts instead of someone working for the team.
One man that was sick of all the hoopla surrounding the myriad of name acquisitions was new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan further endeared himself to Cowboys fans everywhere when he made the following quote:
"I don't know if we win the all-hype team," Ryan said after Monday's second practice, when asked about the Cowboys' defensive end rotation. "That might have gone to someone else, but we're going to beat their ass when we play them." -ESPN
Those words weren't lost on the Eagles players. If they were, the media did their jobs and rehashed the old quotes.
Vick told 97.5 The Fanatic (WPEN-FM), "Maybe we'll make him eat his words. I hope he backs it up." When Vick originally heard Ryan's words in August, he did something he said he normally doesn't do, take to his official Twitter account to respond, writing that "people talk the talk, but can't walk the walk when necessary."
During the radio interview, he added: "Players, we're on the field, we're on the gridiron. Coach, you on the sideline coaching. I mean, you don't know what it's like to be in this battle."
Ryan, son of Buddy Ryan former Eagles head honcho, would also utter the bravado that his defensive line featured three "bullies" in Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher; another proclamation that drew the ire of those with with submit buttons. I wonder how all those writers have been covering the Cowboys defense being #1 in the league against the run [DMN]? Still scoffing and praying for an I-told-you-so moment probably. Hopefully it won't come Sunday night.
Vick is now back-pedaling from those words, which should give at least give him a dress rehearsal for the direction the Cowboys will try to force him Sunday night.
On Wednesday, Vick said: "We know it's a competitive game and sometimes people say things they regret days, weeks and months later. I think from a competitive standpoint, he was just talking. It was nothing that we really paid any attention to because we know what really counts is when you step out on the football field and whoever wins and loses the game, that's what matters."
The Cowboys haven't only been stout against the run, but the pass defense has been formidable as well. Early in the year, detractors pointed to the lack of aerial firepower from the teams Dallas had faced (Jets, 49ers, Redskins). Holding the Lions and Patriots offenses to 20 points each quieted the peanut galleries there. In fact, after their scintillating performance against the Rams on Sunday, the Cowboys are now ranked second in yards allowed per pass play, averaging 6.7 per dropback.
It also speaks to the confidence the whole unit is playing with in 2011 — just a year after fielding arguably the worst secondary in team history.
Last season, the Cowboys gave up big plays like Happy Meals — namely 57 pass plays of 20 yards or more — en route to allowing the second-most passing yards (3,894 net) and the most passing touchdowns (33) in team history.
Well, the Cowboys are a competitive 14th in the league in pass defense in 2011, including a robust second in pass yards per play, giving up just 6.7.
As O.C.C. pointed out earlier today, the Cowboys can boast of having the best big play differential (offensively achieved minus defensively surrendered) in the entire NFL, with a positive advantage of 15. A team that can shut down the run, limit the pass and has extra motivation to support their coach's offseason proclamation [DMN]? I like the way this story is shaping up.
The list included: running backs Aaron Brown and Jason Parmele; defensive backs C.C. Brown, Chris Horton, Darcel McBath, Justin Taplin-Ross, C.J. Wilson; guards Nick Cole and Mike Gibson; receivers Yamon Figurs, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Tiquan Underwood, Demetrius Williams; tackle Langston Walker.