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Cowboys vs. Eagles: Golden Tate “was looking like a square peg in the round hole”

We get the 411 from an Eagles expert about the upcoming game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the rematch of the Cowboys and Eagles, we turn to Bleeding Green Nation for updates on the team from Philly.

Blogging The Boys: Josh Adams seems to be emerging as the Eagles lead back. Talk about what he is bringing to the offense and the return Darren Sproles.

Bleeding Green Nation: The Eagles haven’t had a true “lead back” in quite some time. To illustrate this point, I’ll note that Adams just became the first Eagles running back to have 20+ carries in consecutive games since DeMarco Murray in the 2015 season.

Adams has easily been the Eagles’ more efficient runner this season. The undrafted rookie free agent out of Notre Dame has 69 carries for 347 yards (5.0 average) and two touchdowns in Philadelphia’s last six games. Adams has certainly benefited from an improved Eagles offensive line but he’s also capable of creating his own yards in some respects. At 6-2, 225 pounds, Adams has the size to fight through contact and yet he’s nimble enough to get to the edge and gobble up yards in the open field. He runs with way more juice than we’ve seen any Eagles running back run with this year.

Adams isn’t much of a receiver out of the backfield. He has four receptions on eight targets this year for 25 yards. His limitations in this regard should be a tell for opposing defenses that the Eagles are probably going to run the ball when he’s in.

Sproles is obviously an Eagles running back who DOES have the ability to contribute as a pass catcher. The 35-year-old didn’t log a reception in his first game back against Washington but one would think the Eagles will try to get him going on some screens at some point. Sproles is clearly towards the end of his career but he can still contribute as an effective role player.

BTB: What are your thoughts on the Golden Tate trade now that he’s been in Philly for a bit? Last week’s game must have been encouraging.

BGN: Prior to Monday night’s game, it was apparent how the Tate trade was hurting the Eagles’ offense. He was looking like a square peg in the round hole.

I’m not going to say that one good game suddenly alleviates all those concerns. But it did provide some hope that he might be more organically involved in the offense moving forward instead of being force fed touches.

My thoughts on the trade? Clearly it wasn’t the most efficient use of resources. But some of that sting can be taken out if he continues to play well and the Eagles have success down the stretch.

BTB: What are a couple of things that have been holding the Eagles back this season, and do you see signs of improvement in those areas?

BGN: There’s really no shortage of blame to go around when it comes to diagnosing the Eagles’ struggles. It’s been a team effort.

Philadelphia’s had the worst first quarter offense in the league this year. They’re averaging just 2.3 points in the first 15 minutes of game action. The slow starts have them too often playing from behind.

The defense is culpable as well. The Eagles rank dead last in big play rate and they’ve forced just nine turnovers. Only one team — the San Francisco 49ers — has fewer takeaways than Philadelphia in 2018.

Special teams hasn’t been special in any way.

Injuries have been a big issue. It’s not just that key players are getting hurt as much as some entire position groups have been wiped out at points. For example, the Eagles were playing without their top five cornerbacks last week.

Coaching hasn’t always been top notch. Losing Frank Reich and John DeFilippo certainly hasn’t helped in that regard.

So, yeah, a lot of issues.

One encouraging thing for this Eagles team moving forward is that the trenches seem to be playing at a high level once again. Philadelphia relied on elite offensive line and defensive line production to win the Super Bowl last season. If these units continue to be strengths, there could be hope for this team down the stretch.

BTB: How much confidence do you have in the defense with so many injuries, especially a banged up secondary.

BGN: I can’t say I expect them to be a shutdown unit but there is at least some reason for optimism. In the second halves of the Eagles’ last two games, they’ve allowed just three points and 67 yards on 42 plays (1.59 yards per play). Playing Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez certainly helps. But still, I think there’s hope the defense can at least be respectable. They can’t carry the team; the offense needs to live up to their end of the bargain.

BTB: What’s your prediction for Sunday?

BGN: On a scale of 1-10, my confidence level in the Eagles winning this game is about a 4. It’s just hard to trust this team when they’ve disappointed at almost every turn this season. With that said, Philadelphia has played well in Dallas in recent years. They’re 6-2 at AT&T Stadium since 2010. Maybe the reigning Super Bowl champions find a way to rally with their backs against the wall. I’ll say it’s a really close game that comes down to the wire. Eagles win on a last second Jake Elliott field goal, 26-24.

Thanks for the knowledge, Bleeding Green Nation.

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