In case you’re unaware, the NFC East is an absolute mess, and similar to week seven we have a bad offense going up against an even worse defense. As the Cowboys hope to take a commanding (LOL) lead of the NFC East with a win on the road in Philadelphia, they’ll need their defense to show up for the first time this season. They will be possibly getting some help with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie looking to return from IR, and Randy Gregory likely seeing more playing time with the recent trade of Everson Griffen.
Let’s see what this group will have to defend from Carson Wentz and Company on Sunday Night.
Speaking of Carson Wentz, wooooooooooof. While the Eagles fans around the world somehow think Carson Wentz is back, after making a very nice throw to Boston Scott to beat the New York Giants in crunch-time in week seven, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the first seven games of the 2020 season, Wentz is completing just 58.63% of his passes (career low), 74.3 passer rating (career low), and averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. As far as advanced metrics go, Carson Wentz ranks 26th in the NFL in QBR (52.7), 29th in DVOA (-32.1%), and 29th in CPOE+EPA composite score. Wentz isn’t back, and he hasn’t looked worse in his career. The tape shows a struggling quarterback too, who is far too often trying too hard to will his tram victory, resulting in far too many turnovers, taking too many sacks, and struggling with ball placement in all three levels of the field.
With all of that being said, look for Carson Wentz to have his best game of the season on Sunday Night, as that has been a common theme for struggling quarterbacks facing the Cowboys defense so far in 2020.
While Carson Wentz has not been very good, it’s not all his fault. Similar to the Cowboys, the Eagles offense is banged up, missing multiple offensive linemen, receivers, their starting running back, and potentially both of their tight ends (Goedert could return).
With Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery, and DeSean Jackson sidelined, second-year receiver Travis Fulgham, and former-practice-squadder Greg Ward have really stepped up and played big roles for the Eagles through the first seven weeks. While the names won’t catch your eye, both of these guys have proven themselves as quality NFL receivers while in Philadelphia.
With Miles Sanders not expected to play in week eight, the Cowboys will have to gameplan for Boston Scott, another no-name player, that has played much better than his no-name would suggest. Scott is a smaller back, and has proven he’s tough to bring down due to his small surface area, and quickness in-and-out of holes and in the open field. Where the Eagles offense has struggled the most (outside of quarterback), has been their offensive line. The Eagles are currently on a similar track as the Cowboys as far as the amount of backups they currently have starting on their line. Lane Johnson, the Eagles best offensive lineman has dealt with multiple injuries throughout the year, and has only seen action in five games. With Johnson questionable for week eight, the Cowboys defensive line will face another favorable matchup on Sunday Night, though they’ve struggled to take advantage of those matchups so far in 2020.
If the Cowboys want to win in Philadelphia, they’ll need to make life difficult for Carson Wentz, and do so by providing consistent pressure and keeping him in the pocket. Wentz has the tendency to turn the football over when pressured and on the run. They’ll need to be creative with the way that they send pressure, getting the second- and third-level defenders involved in rushing Wentz to keep him guessing. While sending pressure is key, they’ll need to be sure to contain Fulgham and Ward, who have shown the ability to dominate against man-coverage at times in the young season.
It’s been a common theme for these articles so far this year, but if the Cowboys want to come out of Philadelphia with a win, they will need their big money defenders to show up, and take over this football game.