It's Philadelphia Eagles week as the Dallas Cowboys host them with just all kinds of stuff riding on the outcome of the game. Depending on the outcome of the Liza Minnelli Bowl (New York, New York) earlier in the day, this may decide the division, and the Eagles have two opportunities to be eliminated from the playoffs, while the Cowboys will still be alive no matter what happens.
But it's the Eagles, a hated division rival, and the team I personally most love to despise. I know many of you share my attitude. So come with me as I take my weekly trip to the opponent's SBN site and go into the belly of the beast, Bleeding Green Nation.
One thing I have to say is that there is a lot of Cowboys-related content there. This is a big game, and they know it. One of the things they cover is that the Eagles have dominated the Ryan family coaches this year. The article has a comment about what they did that seemed to work so well.
The common thread to the destruction of both Ryan led defenses appears to be that the Eagles attacked their strengths in both games.
Against the Cowboys, it was the run defense. Prior to that game, much was made of the fact that Dallas had the #1 run defense in the NFL entering the game. The Eagles ended up running the ball 38 times for 239 yards. LeSean McCoy had one of his best days ever, rushing for 185 yards and 2 TDs on 30 carries.
Rob, you got an answer for this? We sure hope so.
More stuff after that jumpy thing.
One of the stories that has come out of Philadelphia has been the struggle of the Eagles defense under offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. But things have turned around over the past couple of weeks, which one post gives him credit for. They are so impressed with how he did against the New York Jets that one of the writers nominated him for a Game Ball.
Even the best defenses need some variety. Last week in Miami and in this Sunday's 45-19 demolition of the Jets, Castillo brought all 31 Baskin-Robbins flavors. Against the Jets, Castillo's Eagles defense looked more like the late Jim Johnson's Eagles defenses than ever before.
How did he get so creative? More pressure, more blitzes, more exotic blitzes, more unique looks, varying defensive fronts. The Eagles did it all, confusing the Jets into mistake after mistake. Just as it was drawn up.
Hmm. Hopefully the Cowboys have an idea of how to deal with a confusing defensive alignment.
While on that subject, it is surprising (even to them) that the Eagles are now ranked in the top ten in one defensive category, yards allowed. The article does point out one problem that the team still has.
What the Eagles defense has had to deal with, that only one of the rest of these top 10 defenses has, is a negative turnover differential. The Eagles are tied for the worst turnover differential in the NFL (-0.9). Only Washington and ironically, the Steelers are as bad. Some of that may be that they haven't forced a ton of turnovers, but mostly it's due to the offense turning the ball over (and at least 3 special teams turnovers as well).
That's one trend I really, really hope continues. Really.
The first time the teams met, Michael Vick (who is such a favorite of BTB participants like DIRE WOLF, thebigham, TARHEEL PAUL, and tanstaafl) had a really good game. The guys at BGN are quite aware of how important his performance will be.
He seemed to know every coverage the Cowboys deployed, he recognized blitzes and had at least two audibles that resulted in TDs.
But of course, past performance doesn't equal future success and Vick isn't as healthy as he was then and the Cowboys are at home. Mike knows it won't be easy again.
As mentioned above, the Eagles had a really good day running the ball when they laid that embarrassing loss on the Cowboys. Obviously, they hope to continue that kind of dominance against us. It should be an interesting matchup.
They're ranked #6 in the league allowing just 98 yards per game. The Eagles still have a great running game, ranked #3 in the NFL at nearly 150 yards a game.
While the Eagles hope to have the kind of success running the ball that they had in the first lamentable game with Dallas, they also are wondering which Dallas running back they will face on Saturday with DeMarco Murray out and Felix Jones not practicing. In reading through it, I was kind of struck by this quote from Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney about Felix.
"I guess he has a chip on his shoulder because he's not starting anymore, but he's starting now because Murray went down and I guess he has a chip on his shoulder now and wants to prove people wrong."
I'm a little curious where he is getting that from, because Felix has seemed to have a pretty good attitude about things. Of course, the article also labeled him a "bust", which I don't think has been at all established.
For the Eagles to get into the playoffs, there are a lot of things that need to fall into place. This was also true in 2008, when they wound up getting some help from Nnamdi Asomugha (whose name, you might notice, even they misspell in the headline) - and Rob Ryan, according to Nnamdi:
"And we knew that if we win and this happens then the Eagles would be in. I remember us talking about it, [and former Oakland defensive coordinator] Rob Ryan made it a point in the meetings talking about it and letting us know that we can let some other teams get in. And these guys talk about it all of the time when they talk about this year versus things that have happened in the past. So it kind of lets you know that anything's possible and you kind of have to take care of your own business and see what happens."
Now, like the rest of the national sports media, the guys at BGN are just thrilled when they see something about how Dallas has been dethroned as you-know-what.
A recent poll found that Dallas not only isn't "America's Team," they are in fact the most hated team in the country.
Yeah, it is tough to be the team everyone else despises - because they ain't the Cowboys. Envy is such an ugly thing.
To finish things up, there was an article titled Todd McShay Releases First Mock Draft Of The Year. Which I absolutely could not care less about. But the guy's name made me think of our own Shay. And that is all the excuse I need to link here.
Meanwhile, GO COWBOYS!