|by Ryan Messick
|More Headlines: Eagles Need to Protect Vick, Eagles Rooting Guide, Vick Enjoying the Run, Eagles-Cowboys Preview|
5. Special Teams Ball Security – Dez Bryant was the top returner for the Cowboys prior to his injury, and it appears that Terrence Newman will get those reps now. On the Eagles side, Jorrick Calvin is seeing an increased role due to the injury to Ellis Hobbs. Calvin has had fumbling issues and the Eagles can’t afford any extra turnovers in this one. Neither can the Cowboys, so ball security on special teams (and in general) will be a huge factor tonight.
4. DeSean Jackson – The Eagles top wide receiver needs to be able to adjust if the Cowboys take away the deep ball by playing the safeties deep. Jackson needs to do what he did on the first play from scrimmage last week and settle under the safeties in the open areas in order to pick up yardage in chunks of 25-30 yards at a time. In three games against Dallas last year, Jackson didn’t have a catch of more than 32 yards and had just seven catches for 79 yards.
3. Secondary Without Samuel – As of Friday morning, this key was to have Samuel healthy. Now the Eagles know they won’t have their star cornerback, so the Birds need to adjust and Joselio Hanson needs to step up in a big way.
2. Stop the Run – Dallas had success on the ground against Philadelphia last year, and if they establish the run it will cause additional problems for the Eagles tonight. The Birds can’t afford to bring a safety into the box without Asante Samuel shutting down one side of the field, so it’s critical top stop the run at the point of attack with the front seven.
1. Protect Michael Vick – The Cowboys 3-4 front has given the Eagles trouble in the past, and the Birds need to find ways to adjust their protection schemes appropriately. The most important matchup will be on the inside where Mike McGlynn faces Jay Ratliff, who is fully capable of wreaking havoc all by himself.