The defending champs, the Seattle Seahawks, just laid out a clear blueprint on how to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles rolled over the Cowboys only two weeks ago, and left the Cowboys searching for answers. All phases of the game were dominated by the Eagles and the game was over by halftime.
Now the Cowboys and Eagles meet once again. Only 3 weeks away from the postseason, the Cowboys find themselves needing a win against the division leaders in order to keep hope. As it stands now, the Cowboys are out of the playoffs due to their poor conference, division, and head to head record. To say this game is important, is a bit of an understatement.
The question at hand is: Do the Cowboys follow the Seattle plan to beat the Eagles, or do they try something else?
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It’s important to first admit that this Cowboys defense is no
Legion of Boom
(moniker given to the Seattle D). The Seattle D is one of the best defenses in the NFL and possibly even this decade. The Cowboys are one of the worst in the league and if it weren’t for last season’s terrible defense, this defense would be contending for worst all-time for the Cowboys.
Yes, the Cowboys manhandled the Seahawks in Seattle earlier this season. But if that’s the last time you’ve seen Seattle play, a lot has changed while you were away. Seattle got their swagger back. The players alone are more physically gifted than 90% of the NFL, so it was only a matter of time.
Conversely, the Cowboys are a group of overachievers getting by on effort and schemes rather than ability. Last matchup the Cowboys were guilty of numerous mental errors that resulted in big play after big play for the hated Eagles. Correcting those mistakes should go without saying…
Even if the Cowboys are playing smart fundamental football on defense, they cannot approach the kind of success Seattle found on Sunday. Seattle forces 1 on 1s and gambles on their guys winning every time. And it usually works. The Cowboys can’t do that. They aren’t strong enough, smart enough, or talented enough to do it. The Cowboys have to beat the Eagles playing Cowboys Football and not by following someone else’s gameplan.
Dec 4, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) is tackled by Chicago Bears inside linebacker Jon Bostic (57) during the second half at Soldier Field. Dallas won 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
What’s Cowboys Football?
Cowboys Football starts with the offense. The success this team has found has been based on time of possesion and extended drives. The Cowboys are unbeatable when they are running the ball and converting 3rd downs. Last matchup the running game wasn’t necessarily the issue.
DeMarco Murray may have rushed for a season low, but the fault really fell on Tony Romo. Without converting 3rd downs, Murray didn’t get fed the ball as much. Before long, the game was out of hand and the running game was no longer an effective option.
The Cowboys need to convert 3rd downs at all costs. 3rd downs extend drives and keep the Cowboys’ defense off the field. Long drives and early points are keys to beating the Eagles in Philadelphia.
On Defense the Cowboys need to create pressure AND get sacks/force mistakes. Last time these teams met the Cowboys only blitzed 3 times against the Philly passing game. As I detailed last week here, Cowboys Must Get Sacks. That must change. The Dallas front four are not strong enough to create pressure on their own so they need blitzing to get it done.
Many worry that blitzing leads to giving up big plays. That is certainly true as the defense assumes greater risk with less players in coverage…BUT… the Dallas Cowboys already give up big plays without blitzing. The Dallas defense gives up nearly 6 yards per play to opposing offenses. They NEED negative plays to stop teams from driving down the field.
The blitzing coud give up big plays but how is that any worse? If the Cowboys can get some big defensive plays of their own, drives will stall, and the onus falls back on the offense. It’s pretty safe to say we’d all prefer the Cowboys fate lay in the hands of the offense, rather than the water-treading defense.
What’s Cowboys Football?
It’s running the ball, converting 3rd downs, and creative blitzing. The Cowboys can’t do what Seattle did, but they beat the Eagles playing Cowboys Football.