The Dallas Cowboys limped into the Linc to face their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, after losing 4 of their last 5 games. A loss to the Eagles could very well have eliminated the Cowboys from any hopes at making the playoffs. For the first time in the 2012 NFL season since opening day, the Dallas Cowboys actually played reasonably decent football in all three phases on the game. The Philadelphia Eagles look like a team in shambles. Another few losses and the Andy Reid era could be over in Philly. The following players had performances worthy of being noticed:
If you think back to the off-season, I doubt you can recall anyone other than Jerry Jones and his sycophantic cronies who believed that franchising Anthony Spencer was a wise decision. The vast majority of the commentary ridiculed Spencer for his inability to rush the passer and lambasted Cowboys GM Jerry Jones for yet another horrendous personnel decision. I have always maintained that Spencer was underrated and that most people didn’t really understand what he was asked to do on most plays, and that his pass-rushing skills were unappreciated because he played opposite All-Pro OLB DeMarcus Ware.
I wrote a three part series in June and July arguing that franchising Anthony Spencer was reasonable, and he was a much better player and pass-rusher than people gave him credit for.
Dallas Cowboy Anthony Spencer has had a very solid year this season. The series when the opponent started inside the Cowboys’ 10 and Spencer made 2 of the plays that resulted in a FG attempt comes to mind. Spencer had another solid game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was awarded a game ball by Bryann Broaddus at DallasCowboys.com. Despite the fact that many of the plays made by Spencer go unnoticed by fans and analysts alike, the Dallas Cowboys defense is not the same without Anthony Spencer; he makes them significantly better. Most NFL clubs can not afford to pay two players like DeMarcus Ware; there are very few ‘2nd OLBs’ in the league who are better than Spencer.
Like Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys’ fans and pundits have been trying to get Felix Jones out of Dallas for years. Like Spencer, he is also often touted as a wasted draft pick and ongoing symbol of Jerry Jones’ incompetence as a General Manager. While Felix Jones may not have been spectacular this year, or even this week, he had a decent game on Sunday. It is hard to imagine the Cowboys, with an injured DeMarco Murray, having Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar as their primary tailbacks.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles, RB Felix Jones had 71 yards (4.4 average) and 22 yards receiving. More importantly, he had an 11 yard TD run-and-catch where he evaded about 5 tacklers. His touchdown came when the Dallas Cowboys desperately needed a TD; the Eagles has just taken the opening possession and marched down the field fairly effortlessly. The Cowboys had to do something to quieten the frenzied crowd. If they had not been unable to answer back with the TD by Jones and were forced to settle for the another FG attempt, the Philadelphia fans, and the defensive players, would have felt much differently about that series.
This team will get better when the DMM Express (DeMarco Murray) returns, but Jones did a good job of filling in last week.
The first time that Peprah made a tackle against the Eagles, I had to check the roster to see who he was; apparently he is a veteran with years experience playing for the Green Bay Packers. Sunday was his first game as a Dallas Cowboy. He didn’t make any huge plays, but when you are a DB facing an offense that has DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and Michael Vick, the absence of making a big mistake should be viewed as a good game, especially if that is your first game as a Cowboy. More importantly, Charlie Peprah showed a willingness to hit people when he tackled them. He tried to lay aggressive big hits whenever he had the chance; this secondary could use someone who is anxious to punish people when they tackle.
DE Ben Bass did not play against the Philadelphia Eagles, but Kenyon Coleman was injured and therefore gone for the year. The Dallas Cowboys will likely call up BBB (Big Ben Bass) from the practice squad to fill his spot. Undrafted rookie free agent Bass did not get a lot of chances to play in the pre-season, but when he played a few series, he made some plays. My comments shortly after the Oakland Raiders game:
Relatively unknown DE Ben Bass, an undrafted rookie from Texas A&M, had 4 tackles and an assist, including a sack. He showed great hustle in the 3rd quarter when he chased down the RB from behind about 6 yards downfield. He also had what must be one of the plays of the game when he tackled the ball-carrier for a loss on 3rd down: the tackle resulted in a longer FG attempt for the Raiders on 4th down; the attempt was unsuccessful.
Reports coming out of Valley Ranch maintain that Ben Bass is already playing at a higher level than the rest of the players on the practice squad. Kenyon Coleman was a stalwart and a solid role-player, but it will be nice to someone young, motivated, hungry, and perhaps even a bit desperate, try to prove themselves worthy of being a Dallas Cowboy. Keep an eye on BBB and see how quickly and how often Dallas Cowboys Defensdive Coordinator Rob Ryan creates chances for him to make plays.
The Dallas Cowboys defense had one of its better games of the year against the Philadelphia Eagles. (How come no one ever mentions the ‘Dream Team’ anymore?)
They did knock Michael Vick out of the game with what is now being called a “serious concussion.” SportDFW wishes Vick a full and speedy recovery.
The Defense did score 14 points off of turnovers. One of the scores was an interception return by high priced free agent acquisition CB Bradon Carr. Most Cowboy fans are elated by the pick-six, but they are still somewhat unconvinced about Carr’s worth given that this was his first interception of the 2012 NFL Season and he has yet to break up more than 1 pass in a game.
The other defensive TD was when Dallas Cowboys’ DE Jason Hatcher jumped on a fumble in the Philadelphia Eagles’ endzone when there was less than a minutes left to play in a game that was clearly over. The fumble was caused by the much maligned OLB Anthony Spencer.
The Dallas Cowboys defense also held the Philadelphia to 1 out of 10 on 3rd down attempts. That statistic sounds impressive until you factor in that the defense also committed TEN penalties. More importantly five of the Cowboys’ defensive penalties came on 3rd down and extended drives for the Philadelphia Eagles. Rookie 1st rounder CB Morris Clairborne committed 5 of the defense’s 10 penalties and DE Jason Hatcher committed 2, so perhaps the rest of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense played fairly mistake free.
All in all, the Dallas Cowboys’ fans have to be happy with how they played. With only 2 road games left on the schedule and a bunch of teams with sub .500 records, the Dallas Cowboys may have turned a corner this season with their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. That being said, there are still a ton of weakness on this football, so don’t go making any Super Bowl bets yet.