Cowboys vs Eagles Film Review: Standouts, Notes, and Observations


The Cowboys hosted the Eagles in their final meeting of the 2015 regular season. After reviewing the film, here are the standouts, notes, and observations.

The pressure was on both teams Sunday night as the 2-5 Dallas Cowboys and the 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles try to remain in the hunt for the NFC East. With the very reachable New York Giants leading the division at 5-4, a win would be a huge boost to either team.

Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan woke up the offense through creative and timely play-calling. Receivers lined up in bunch formations using “rubs” to create separation on a couple occasions. The offense flowed with rhythmic drives utilizing misdirection and spacing to add sparks when needed. Case in point: When was the last time you saw a called QB run to the outside in Dallas?

Here are Sunday night’s standouts, notes, and observations:

The Cowboys ran largely out of the single high safety scheme most of the night but changed exact player positioning based on down, distance, and personnel. The Cowboys have been pushing this scheme for over a year and are finally developing a comfort level with their current roster.

It was curious to see the Cowboys use so many safeties on the field at the same time. On multiple occasions the Cowboys had

Jeff Heath


Byron Jones


Barry Church

, and

J.J. Wilcox

on at the same time.

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  • Since returning from the week one high ankle sprain, Randy Gregory has largely been quiet on the pass-rush front. The right defensive end in the nickel package has been a focus of attention for opposing offenses. On Sunday, the Eagles alternated between doubling Gregory and Greg Hardy. If one was doubled, the other was singled.
  • La’el Collins picked up where he left off. He followed up his break-out performance from last week with another strong game on Sunday night. Collins has been night and day since the beginning of the season. He plays with more strength, more confidence, and most importantly lower pad level.

  • We know Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith are all All-Pro level players, but even Doug Free had a strong game on Sunday night. Coming off one of his poorer games, Free had a little more pep in his step and eagerly blocked into the second level.
  • I usually love James Hanna’s run-blocking but he hasn’t stood out this season the same way he has in the past. Many of his blocking assignments are read-and-react situations, making them difficult in nature, but it’s been very apparent he made some incorrect reads on Sunday and pushed to a second level when his primary target was not yet neutralized.
  • The biggest weakness of the Cowboys defense is it’s run-stopping ability.

    Nick Hayden

    is only true 1-technique DT and he’s the primary 2-gap run-stopper. In short yardage situations, the Cowboys are often exposed in their weakness.

    Tyrone Crawford

    , Randy Gregory, and

    Jeremy Mincey

    all historically draw negative run-stopping grades and are often liabilities in these situations.

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  • A surprisingly good player out of the backfield is WR/PR/KR Lucky Whitehead. In collage he frequently lined up in the backfield carrying the ball, pass protecting, and sealing the edge as a run blocker. He sealed the edge and neutralized would-be tacklers on Sunday night as an in-motion WR. Lucky isn’t very polished as a rookie but he’s a versatile play-maker who has a bright future…as long as he stops fielding punts from the 1.
  • Matt Cassel is missing his hot-reads too often when blitzed. In the third quarter, the Eagles rushed six allowing Jason Witten to run wide open. Cassel never looked at his hot route and took the sack looking downfield. Those are the plays that make all the difference in a game.
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    • If there was any doubt after last week, defensive lineman extraordinaire, David Irving is the real deal. He plays both DT spots, as well as both DE spots. He can play 2-gap and 1-gap. He’s 6’7″, strong, and fast. He is not a fluke in any way. Be excited about this kid.