Sunday, September 20, 2015

DMN - Scouting the Eagles

Today is the fifth career meeting between Jason Garrett and Chip Kelly as the Cowboys visit Philadelphia for their 55th meeting with the Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love.
The series is tied 27-27 in games played there, but Garrett has taken both games in Philadelphia against the current Eagles coach, while Kelly has won the two games in Arlington.
In those two wins at "The Linc," Garrett's offense has held the ball an average of 39 minutes.
Despite that figure, the Cowboys running game has not been dominant. In the two 2014 games, the Cowboys attempted 67 run plays and accumulated only 208 yards.
That 3.1 yards per attempt was well below the 4.9 yards per carry the Cowboys had against everyone else. The Eagles were determined to stop the Cowboys' run, and they did just that.
For the Cowboys to win, they will need to attack the Eagles with balance. Much of that will depend upon Tony Romo making plays without the aid of last year's hero, Dez Bryant.
Here are three Eagles who appear vital in the matchup:

Fletcher Cox

This matchup features one inside defensive monster against the weakest link in the Cowboys' offensive line.
Cox, one of the 13 remaining players from the Andy Reid era, has a chance to go against the Cowboys' left guard (Ron Leary or Mackenzy Bernadeau) and to use his stunning skill set of strength and quickness to destroy runs and get after Romo.
Cox, now among the best at his position, was the 12th pick of the 2012 draft after the Eagles traded up, many thought to get past the Cowboys, to get him. Of course, the Cowboys also traded up to sixth in the same draft to take Morris Claiborne, who has not had the clear path to stardom that Cox has enjoyed.

Andrew Gardner

Meanwhile, in the other direction, Tyrone Crawford must have been thrilled with the Eagles extending Gardner's contract through 2018 a few weeks back.
Crawford had little trouble in 2014 against Gardner, the Eagles' unlikely starting right guard who bounced to six franchises on his way to this spot. Gardner and the other Eagles guard, journeyman Allen Barbre, are seen as spots to attack on an Eagles line that has been a strength at times under Kelly.
For the Eagles to shift into the high gear they so desire, they need their line to solidify so that they may run their zone running scheme. But their decision to release guard Evan Mathis was seen around the league as curious. Were they too hopeful that Gardner and Barbre could play at the needed level? 2015 will reveal the answers soon enough.

Byron Maxwell

The Eagles brought in 11 free agents to their roster this spring, but nobody cost as much as the $63 million ($25 million guaranteed) they gave to Maxwell to join them after he started 17 games in four seasons with Seattle.
He is big (6-1) and got plenty of playing time with the Legion of Boom, but his first night in Eagles green Monday saw Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Julio Jones repeatedly attack him with great success. The Cowboys' testing him with Dez Bryant will have to wait until November, but with all the Eagles invested in him and their defense, they are hoping this is the No. 1 corner they so desired.

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