Oct 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Looking Ahead: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles


Due to a number of pressures, this column will be shorter than the others. For that I apologize. Next week’s (or possibly the week after’s) article, should be longer. But this week is what currently matters. This week, the Cowboys visit the Eagles in what should be another chapter in a great rivalry.

Oct 6, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) is hit by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the second quarter during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

Though not quite the caliber of the Broncos, The Eagles’ offense could be describes by a multitude of adjectives. They could be described as “excellent”, “captivating”, or “electric”. Phrases that could describe the Eagles’offense include “ground-focused attack”, or “high scoring”. They have been on fire the last two weeks, scoring 36 against the Giants and 31 against the Buccaneers.

Michael Vick  has been in something of a passing slump as of late. His completion percentage, at 53.8%, is lower than Brandon Weeden’s. Vick hasn’t actually topped that mark in three weeks. Still, Vick’s passing isn’t the most important cog in the Eagles’ offense.

His ability to scramble and orchestrate an up-tempo offense really make the Eagles click. He and LeSean McCoy combine to form (statistically) the league’s best rushing attack.

In five games, Vick has practically the same number (25 less) of rushing yards in five games this season as he had in ten games last season. Part of the reason is the sheer number of snaps the Eagles take. In their first quarter of the season, they ran 38 plays. While that total is rather unusual, it can be devastating for defenses.

McCoy has had an excellent season as well. He is on pace for 1,680 yards and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. Stopping him (and his shiftyness) is almost impossible. He will almost wreak havoc on the Cowboys this week.

 

Defense

When the Cowboys battled the Broncos, they lost despite the fact that they scored 48 points. One  thing the Cowboys have to look

forward to is that the Eagles’ defense is even worse than theirs. The Cowboys rank 30th and 15th in passing defense and rushing defense, respectively. The Eagles rank 31st and 16th in the same categories. Considering how well Tony Romo has played recently, I expect him to have a great day statistically.

In terms of individual performances, DeMeco Ryans has been solid as usual. He stands 12th in total tackles with 51.

The defense as a whole has had terrible problems with the pass rush. No player has sacked the quarterback more than three times. Connor Barwin leads the team with three sacks. On the season. The Eagles’ best pass rusher is tied for 41st in the league at his job.

The Eagles do have Cary Williams, who has two interceptions on the year, is tied for 14th.

On the whole though, the unit just isn’t that great. They struggle stopping the run and the pass. This will probably end up a shoot-out just like the week before last.

The Cowboys hope the result isn’t the same as well.

 

 

EDIT

Thank you to a reader for pointing out that Vick has been declared out for the Cowboys game. Though there was only one credible report that -unofficially- said Vick wasn’t likely to play, it was still an error on my part not to have seen it and at least acknowledge its existence. I wrote the reader a response, and it applies to any reader angered by this oversight.

The information available to me before Wednesday (when the article was published) implied there was a decent chance he would play. In particular, this article (
http://mweb.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24072648/report-michael-vick-wont-play-sunday-vs-buccaneers) said that Vick showed “decent mobility in practice” and that Chip Kelly didn’t want to put Vick “in harms way”. I read that to mean that Vick could have played in a dire situation but Chip Kelly wanted to be cautious. Since hamstring injuries often linger, that would be a smart move. I wrote the article Tuesday night.
However, an article was posted on ESPN declaring that Vick would need another week for his hamstring. I admit that, sloppily, I missed this article completely. I didn’t see it until I went through Google News to see where my mistake was.
Since I missed it, I was basing my knowledge to the extent of Vick’s injury on old information.
The vast amount if the news covering Vick’s injury came Wednesday, after the paper was submitted for publishing. Still, this is inexcusable on my part. I made the mistake of procrastinating on writing the paper and obviously the quality of the article reflects that.
It should be noted that under Nick Foles, much of the offense stays the same. The Eagles’ offense is still highly explosive, but the quarterback doesn’t scramble in the same way Vick did. Virtually no quarterback does, at least not in the same way. Even at 33, Vick’s speed and athleticism makes him unique. Cam Newton, an equally talented runner, is much more physical. Robert Griffin III isn’t as explosive (much of that because of his hamstring injury, which he still seems to be recovering from) nor as scramble prone. He is close though.
Foles isn’t as mobile (though isn’t to say that he’s slow-he is athletic, but in an Andrew Luck way), so the open-field scrambling that makes Vick so difficult to contain (9.3 yards per rush on the season) isn’t an issue anymore. Foles, however,  is a very good passer, or at least is far better than Vick. The rushing attack will lean much more on LeSean McCoy, while the passing offense will become much more efficient.  Foles on the season has a 67.2% completion percentage. Vick had a 53.8% completion percentage.
In 132 pass attempts, Vick has thrown five touchdowns. In just 61, Foles has already thrown six. The passing game will take a step forward with Foles under helm. Combined with the hurry-up offense and league-leading rusher LeSean McCoy, the offense should be equally explosive, maybe even more so.
I expect this Sunday to be nothing short of a shootout.

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Tags: Looking Ahead Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles