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Behind enemy lines: How Eagles plan to contain Prescott. And Elliott. And Pollard. And Lamb. And Parsons.

Philly has quite a long to-do list.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

A look at the Eagles’ view of the upcoming game with the Cowboys.

Prescott is the first priority to contain.

Can the Eagles contain Pescott?

“I just know we’ve got to get after him in the pocket because that’s where he makes his hay,” said defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who could be in line for more snaps with Brandon Graham gone for the season. “I know everyone thinks of him as a really great athlete and running all around, and he is all those things, but where he really takes advantage, and that’s what he was doing in the first couple of games last year (before suffering his injury), was making plays from the pocket with his arm, so I know we’ve got to attack the pocket up front and make plays.”

Not exactly a big revelation, though it may be in Philly: the Cowboys have a “distinct advantage” at quarterback, two beat writers for the Philadelphia Inquirer explain.

Jeff McLane: Quarterback should be where Dallas has a distinct advantage. Prescott and Hurts aren’t facing off, per se, but this should be the most proficient offense — I almost forget to mention running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — Jonathan Gannon’s defense will face in the first three weeks. The Eagles should have opportunities to throw downfield as long as Hurts has time, but I like the Cowboys in a home shootout. Prediction: Cowboys 31, Eagles 30

EJ Smith: Dak Prescott is the best quarterback the Eagles have seen this season, and his group of receivers is one of the most talented in the league. Because of this, the Cowboys might be more capable of taking what the Eagles defense gives them with more success than the Falcons and 49ers. Prediction: Cowboys 31, Eagles 21’s weekly QB rankings also do not favor the Eagles

8. Dak Prescott: Consider Dak’s relatively quiet Week 2 a positive. The play-calling, offensive line and running game were all excellent in Los Angeles. Prescott doesn’t need to be all the way back from injury yet to run one of the league’s best offenses.

26. Jalen Hurts: There was some bad luck in Philly’s frustrating offensive day against the 49ers, but there was also some surprisingly bad decision-making from Hurts on zone-read plays. Without a lot of chain-moving elements in the passing game, Hurts needs the schemed running game to work, especially in short yardage. The run sets up the pass in Philly so if the run isn’t working beyond scrambles, not much else will.

Oh, but stopping the run is also a priority!

Will Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run over the Eagles in prime time? NFL Network analyst James Jones predicts Ezekiel Elliott will run circles around the Eagles.

Ezekiel Elliott silences the haters with a three-touchdown performance in a Monday night showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s the third three-score performance of Zeke’s career and first since Week 7 of 2017.

If it’s not Elliott, it’ll be Pollard. ESPN Philly’s Tim McManus makes this bold prediction:

Dallas running back Tony Pollard will have more than 150 total yards. That’s well within the realm of possibility after he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown with 31 receiving yards last week against the Chargers. The Eagles’ zone-based scheme forces the opponent to methodically work its way down the field. There are yards to be had in the run game and underneath in the pass game, and Pollard will take advantage.

How are the Eagles preparing for that 1-2 punch?

“We’re clear with what the objectives are,” linebacker Alex Singleton said. “Stopping the run is always going to be first and foremost. We want to take the football away and that’s a goal to help our offense. But we want to keep playing within the system and playing with fundamentals.”

“Dallas has a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield. They are special together. They are both physical and will come downhill on you and thump you. They’re looking for big yards after contact. We want to set the tempo on them. Dak is a composed quarterback who knows how to play within the system. I think we’re all excited to get down there and do what we do – stop the run and get into favorable down and distances and then play the coverages we want to play.”

It takes a village ...

“Anytime you talk about stopping the run game, it’s about getting a lot of hats to the ball, everybody being where they’re supposed to be in terms of fits and things of that sort and then just rallying,” safety Anthony Harris said. “Going against tough opponents with big linemen, you want to try to get as much penetration and win the line of scrimmage. With the ballcarriers, you want to get a lot of hats there so you can stop extra yards after contact and tackle really well.”

Yeah, and stopping the return game is a priority as well.

Michael Clay, Eagles special teams coordinator, on CeeDee Lamb:

"I've always been a fan of CeeDee Lamb, even with his time at Oklahoma in terms of his punt return ability," Clay said. "We played against him last year when I was in San Francisco. He's a very fluid athlete. He catches the ball well. He's going to take some chances, but these are all calculated chances. Not like he goes off the reservation or goes rogue or something like that. He's a strong runner and very elusive. So, it has to take a full team effort. One, it starts with our protection. (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) runs some very good games. Knowing (Fassel) the past four and a half, five years, with him being in LA and playing them last year, we got to get that ball off, be stout in protection.

"Then, once (punter) Arryn (Siposs) gives us a good ball to go cover, there's got to be 10 other guys going down there trying to corral him. It's got to be a full team effort to get him down. You're not going to expect one-on-one tackles a lot with an athlete like CeeDee Lamb. So, it all starts with, one, the protection; two, Arryn giving us a good ball for us to cover; and then everybody else getting off the blocks and making a good team effort to get CeeDee down because he is a very good punt returner."

Philly O-line forever in flux

The Eagles were re-shuffling their O-line all of last season, and it looks like that will continue this year:

The Eagles were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations last season and now they might be without two starters in Week 3 of the 2021 season. Brandon Brooks is on IR with a pec strain.

The Eagles’ starting left tackle [Jordan Mailata] injured his knee late in Thursday’s practice. He was “rolled up on,” the Eagles said.

If Mailata can’t play on Monday, the Eagles’ offensive line would look like this (from left to right): Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson, Lane Johnson.

LT Andre Dillard is set for his first start since 2019, and rookie RG Landon Dickerson will get his first ever NFL start:

[2nd-round pick Dickerson] was thrown into the fire for his first NFL action on Sunday against the 49ers. After missing all of training camp as he recovered from a torn ACL, Dickerson only started practicing a few weeks ago. Sunday was his first game active.

On Monday night on the road against the Cowboys, Dickerson will make his first career start.

Dickerson played the final 33 offensive snaps of Sunday’s game and struggled in pass protection. He had 20 snaps on passing plays and gave up 5 pressures, 4 hurries and 1 quarterback hit, according to ProFootballFocus.

With a make-shift O-line, stopping Micah Parsons is a priority too, of course.

Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator, says it’s all eyes on Micah Parsons.

“He’s a heck of a player. Obviously, he had a lot of pressures last week against the Chargers,” Steichen said. “He comes off the ball. He’s got a lot of speed. You can see it on film. Good on the edge, he’s good inside as well. He’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us. We gotta know where he is on the field and be ready for these guys. We’ll be ready.”

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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