As week three of the NFL season kicks off, the Cowboys head into their home opener versus the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a much needed early season win. The Cowboys will look to start off their first of six division games with a bang against their biggest rival and will be doing so once again short-handed.
The Cowboys will be without Dorance Armstrong, Keanu Neal, Bradlee Anea, and Carlos Watkins, while Ty Nsekhe will miss his second consecutive game as well. DeMarcus Lawrence, Michael Gallup and Neville Gallimore are also still out. Much like last week, the Cowboys will look to get creative with their personnel and scheme as they need to generate some much needed pass rush versus the Eagles solid offensive line. It looks as if Terence Steele will get his second consecutive start at right tackle as La’el Collins continues to go through his suspension process. Steele, much like last week, will be tested by a formidable defensive line and the Cowboys will look for him to play well and to hold up once again.
What we know is the Cowboys will be with out a few key starters and contributors, that has been this season’s theme so far, for a tough week three clash against the Eagles. However, the show goes on and the Cowboys will look for any way to open up their home slate being able to secure a division win and get above .500 for the first time in the 2021 season.
Here are five things to watch this week:
1. Look for the offense to continue to let the defense dictate how they attack them.
The offense has been taking what the defense has been giving them through two games this season. Look for much of that to stay the same against the Eagles on Monday night.
The Cowboys had a balanced attack that feature a lot more Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard action than in the week prior. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is comfortable taking what the defense is allowing and exploiting it for the offense’s advantage as they adapt to the different ways the defenses are looking to attack them.
Having an offensive coordinator understand that this unit can be successful in a multitude of ways, and not trying to force a philosophy focused on scheme rather than letting the players executing the plays, is a refreshing idea for the Cowboys.
2. Can the defense stay opportunistic?
Who would’ve guessed the Dallas Cowboys would lead the league in turnover differential? They will need to continue to attack the football and generate turnovers as they look to secure their first division win of the season.
All off-season it’s been discussed that this defensive unit just needed to be middle of the pack for this team to have a chance to be successful. Two games in there are signs of hope even as they faced two tough offensive units, and have been dealt a tough hand injury wise to start the year.
Look for the Cowboys to use Micah Parsons in certain instances as a spy on Jalen Hurts, when he is not rushing the passer out of neeed, to try and limit his impact as a runner. Getting in his face and getting Hurts under duress to force mistakes will be a focal point for this unit Monday night. If the Cowboys can make the Eagles QB uncomfortable, look for this defense to find a way to get a couple more turnovers to help them to victory.
3. Tyler Biadasz will need to rise to the occasion.
The young rookie center has had his hands full to start the season. Week one he had the displeasure of facing Vita Vea, week two the Chargers had some play makers on the defensive line themselves, and now in week three he will have to go toe-to-toe all night with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
Look for the Cowboys to give assistance to Biadasz when they can, but the young center is going to need to buckle his chin strap and be ready to battle all game long. Growing pains were expected and the schedule makers did him no favors with these early season opponents, however the Cowboys will need Biadasz to expedite his learning curve and it would be advantageous to see him put together a solid performance this week.
4. Cowboys will look to Randy Gregory for a big night.
Randy Gregory is back from his COVID absence and it is very much a needed and welcomed addition. With the loss of their best pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, it will be an ongoing issue to consistently generate pressure in his absence.
Gregory has played well against the Eagles in the past and he is the guy now on the defensive line moving forward. Look for Gregory to be active and find a way to make an impact early and often. The two tackles the Eagles have are tough matchups for any defensive end, but the absence of the Eagles starting left tackle Jordan Mailata, they are even more so beatable going into Monday than originally thought, and Gregory possesses the skill set to affect the QB all night no matter who is out there.
5. Enjoy another chapter in this storied rivalry.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni stoked the fire by wearing a “Beat Dallas” shirt on Thursday for his media availability. But the Cowboys don’t need billboard material to be ready to face their division rival.
Every time the Cowboys play the Eagles it seems to be eventful in some way or fashion. It’s always a tough matchup and it’s an opponent every fan, player, and coach are excited to face. Cowboys have played this week smart. They haven’t taken the bait, and they have been relatively unfazed by the outside noise. The mindset has been to just go out there on Monday night and play a complete 60 minutes of football on all three phases, knowing if they do so they will have won the latest chapter of this bitter rivalry.
This is a big week for the Dallas Cowboys and an opponent who they obviously know well. We discussed the most important matchups on Monday night, broke down which specific Eagles might be an issue, and went behind enemy lines with our friends at Bleeding Green Nation in our official preview show on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel.
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