|by Ryan Messick
|More Headlines: Eagles Rooting Guide, Vick Enjoying the Run, Eagles-Cowboys Preview|
If the Eagles want to grab a win tonight over the Cowboys, they’ll need to protect Michael Vick from the Dallas pass rush led by Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware. While the Cowboys are only 20th in the league with 22 sacks, the Eagles have given up 33 sacks, tied for the sixth-most in the league. They’ve also given up 63 quarterback hits, which leaves them 10th.
Ware leads the Cowboys and is tied for third in the league with 10 sacks, while Ratliff has just three. The big nose tackle’s presence, however, opens it up for his teammates to make plays.
“Ratliff is a special player,” said Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “They’ve got several you can keep going, but Ratliff chews people up. He’s a special player.”
The problem Ratliff poses is that he can collapse the pocket quickly from the inside out, forcing Vick to roll out to his right if things go according to the Cowboys plan. That’s, in part, what the Bears were able to do by stunting their defensive lineman to get quick pressure on the inside.
“Very disruptive player, his disruption causes a lot of, with what they do, his disruption causes a lot of holes for their other guys to make plays,” said Eagles center Mike McGlynn. “I think a lot of things they do with stunts and stuff are based off of him penetrating.”
McGlynn also said there would be more one-on-one situations for him with Ratliff and an increased focus on his play, given that the Eagles are going up against a 3-4 defense.
With Winston Justice out of the lineup and King Dunlap filling in at right tackle, there will also be an increased focus on the Birds’ offensive line, especially since Michael Vick has taken more than his share of hits over the last few weeks.
Follow Ryan Messick on Twitter.