It's Eagles Week Part 1 for the Cowboys, and there is a lot of news to get to. The guys in green have become the biggest rival for Dallas of late because, well, Washington and the Giants have been a bit sucky of late. Of course, with a chance to hang an 0-2 record on the Philadelphians, the Cowboys are looking to put a label of suckitude on them as well. Undoubtedly, the Eagles have a different plan for things. Let's start with something to get us a little fired up.
One of the highlights of the Giants game was the hit J.J. Wilcox laid on Odell Beckham Jr., during which Wilcox broke his nose.
"I hopped up quick because I knew something was wrong with my nose. I said I don't know what about him, but I knew my nose was broken. I looked down, it was sitting over to the left. I was like, 'Jim! Jim!' (for head trainer Jim Maurer). He was like, 'yeah, it's broken, man. You want me to pop it back in now or wait until later?' I said just wait later."
Now Wilcox go the rest of his life with a crooked nose. He isn't getting plastic surgery to fix it.
"I'm just going to stay ugly for the rest of my life," Wilcox said.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a football player.
Now to focus on the coming game.
I think the feeling is mutual. But this tidbit is worth noting.
The Eagles have not beaten the Cowboys in Philadelphia since 2011. They lost 38-27 to Dallas in 2014, 17-3 in 2013 and 38-23 in 2012. Their last victory at home against the Cowboys was a 34-7 blowout on Oct. 30, 2011.
The Broad One looks at a couple of matchups that will play a major role in the Eagles game, including this one.
Cowboys C Travis Frederick against Eagles NT Bennie Logan
If there has been an area of improvement in Travis Frederick's game as a starting center, it has been in his ability to deal with a man playing on his nose. There were times early in his career where he struggled having to deal with a man that played right on top of him that had quickness and power.
Eagles nose tackle Bennie Logan presents a unique challenge for Frederick, because when you think of a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme - you usually are talking about a 320-to-340-pound player. With Logan, Frederick is dealing with a guy that goes about 309 pounds and could easily play as an under-tackle in a 4-3 scheme.
The Eagles have a new quarterback, if you haven't heard. Chip Kelly thinks the world of Sam Bradford (since he couldn't figure out how to get Marcus Mariota), but you do have to wonder if he is really aware of his injury history.
"He's got an elite arm - he's really accurate, can make all the throws that you ask a quarterback to make in this league," Kelly said. "He's a very good decision maker, processes things very quickly. He has a quick release and will stand in there and throw it, has a toughness about him. Just have been really happy with Sam."
The Cowboys are the underdog according to the Vegas line, but Thomas Duck lists his reasons why the Cowboys should win. I really like number 2.
2. The Best Offensive Line - During this past offseason, Philadelphia left tackle Jason Peters famously said that the Eagles o-line was better than the Dallas Cowboys o-line which is almost universally considered to be the NFL's best. Peters is an All-Pro level player, and certainly an athlete of his caliber should think he is the best. He may be showing more faith in his linemates than they've earned just yet though.
The Cowboys have a nine game road winning streak that goes back to 2013. Head coach Jason Garrett stresses that this is a new team in a new year, but also lays out why the team is prepared to try to extend the streak.
"I think being on the road and having success there is a lot to do with your mindset, your mentality and your mental toughness," Garrett said. "And hopefully your team is built a certain way that you can handle some of the conditions that you deal with on the road. I think if you do those things at a high level: you have the right mindset, you have the right mentality, you have the right mental toughness and you have a team that can handle the different conditions whether it's crowd noise or weather or some of the circumstances you have to deal with, I think you have good chance of winning on the road."
Kelly and the Eagles are the leading proponent of the hurry-up no-huddle offense, but it looks like it is something that the Cowboys will have to get used to.
Last year, the Eagles and Patriots were by far the fastest tempo teams, finishing first and second, respectively, in both overall tempo and in-tempo in neutral situations (per Football Outsiders). The Browns, Colts, Ravens, Falcons and Packers all ran at a quickened tempo in neutral situations, as well.
And, it works. According to a study done by the Wall Street Journal and Stats LLC,"after you take out all the drives in the last four minutes of the half and when the score is separated be more than a touchdown, teams that used the no-huddle averaged 25 percent more points per drive and six percent more yards per drive in 2014." That's pretty powerful.
That's three more teams Dallas will face that like to increase the tempo.
The team is working to figure out what to do if Ronald Leary is not available. Since Mackenzy Bernadeau is the backup center as well as for the guards, it might be smarter to keep him as a reserve.
While Mackenzy Bernadeau filled in last week to finish the game, head coach Jason Garrett said La'el Collins will compete for reps this week and has a chance to start.
"There'll be a competition between those guys this week and if Ron is not able to go," Garrett said. "We'll determine by week's end who is going to play and what the rotation might be."
But Leary is not ruling out his chances to be ready for the game. He has been down this road before.
Leary did some running Thursday and told reporters, "I am ahead of schedule already."
Last season, Leary missed one game, a loss to Arizona, with a strained groin before returning to action the following week in a victory over Jacksonville.
Tony Romo talks about how he and the receivers will try and adjust for the loss of Dez Bryant.
"The real take is, the guy has to win one-on-one," Romo said. "That's your whole job when you're a skill position player when you get the one-on-one. Look, if you're not consistently winning one-on-one, it's going to make the game very difficult because that's where the ball needs to go and if you can't beat your guy ... Dez obviously wins that matchup 99.9 percent of the time, so he makes it easy to go to him in the one-on-one situations. So we just need the other guys to step up, win their one-on-one matchups."
Cole Beasley has nothing but high regard for his quarterback. And he makes a very salient point.
"When you know the guy, it's different. There is always going to be those people on the outside who think they know better, think they know a person from watching on a screen. But you can't tell anything about a guy watching from a screen. There is a lot that goes on in a game."
Rob Phillips is fighting the good fight on behalf of Romo. But you know how the narrative will go if the Cowboys struggle for a few weeks.
Yes, these next few weeks without Bryant are a big test for Romo and the Cowboys' offense. He no longer has an outside receiver who has previously attracted double coverage. His healthy skill players must win one-on-one battles to earn the extra attention that creates favorable matchups for others. And the Eagles, with their 49 sacks a season ago, historically have chased him around.
But suggesting Tony Romo must attain, or maintain, some kind of elite status by winning X amount of games without Dez (no pun intended) is ridiculous.
The receivers who will be trying to make up for Bryant's absence are not shying away from the challenge.
"These are the moments that you train for. I don't have any pressure," Terrance Williams said. "I've just got to go out there and run the plays that Coach calls and what Tony gives me. Stick to my fundamentals and play fast - what got me here."
Despite the relative lack of rushing yards in the first game, the team intends to keep the emphasis on running the ball.
The Cowboys don't have to have a 50-50 run/pass balance, but they don't need to throw the ball more than about 55 percent of the time, because it will be asking Romo to do too much and exposing him to way too many hits.
"If you look at our possessions, four of them were two-minute opportunities -- two in the first half and two at the end of the game," Garrett said, "You really have to watch the game and evaluate the game. You have to understand the context in which the plays were run."
One person who is fully on-board with keeping the focus on the run is Joseph Randle.
"I hate to be a little selfish, but I still haven't had a 100-yard game yet," Randle said. "So it's a lot of things I have to focus on with my game and helping this team win."
Tyrone Crawford cashed in big, and then got the first sack of the season for the Cowboys. He worked hard getting ready for this season, and also got some help from a former teammate, Jason Hatcher.
"I watched Hatch a lot and I watched the different situations when he took charge of the huddle, called different games," Crawford said. "He was real smart, picked up the technique in this system quick. I watched a lot of him because after watching him I can get on the phone and give him a call and ask him why he did this, this and this. That's why that was fun for me."