Five Difference-Makers: Eagles-Cowboys
By Bob Wankel
Staff writer Steve Fini breaks down the difference-makers in the Eagles’ 34-7 win over Dallas on Sunday night.
Demarcus Ware (LB/Cowboys) – I’m only going to mention one Cowboy in this article because he’s basically the only one that did anything of note for Dallas in this game. Ware is an absolute stud–a future Hall of Famer in waiting.
If given the choice, I would still go with Patrick Willis as the one player around the league that I would want most on the Eagles, but it’s only because he fits their scheme better. Ware is the best pass rushing linebacker in the game today– in a list that includes Clay Mathews, Terrell Suggs, and James Harrison.
He was quiet for the majority of the game Sunday night, and Todd Herremans/Jason Peters did an excellent job on him (more on that later). But Ware ended the game with four sacks. That is an amazing number, particularly considering the Eagles had only given up eight sacks in the six games prior to Sunday night.
It’s a true testament to Ware’s abilities . He’s a great athlete who lets his play on the field talk. Maybe his defensive coordinator should takes notes.
Lesean McCoy (RB/Eagles) – After burning the NFL’s best run defense, Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth asked why McCoy doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as players like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. I think that’s about to change.
McCoy was almost unstoppable with the ball in his hands on Sunday night. In almost one night, McCoy morphed from a relative unknown into a player drawings comparisons with the likes of Brian Westbrook and Barry Sanders.
He rushed 30 times for almost 185 yards and two touchdowns against a team that came into the game allowing a stingy 69.7 yards per game on the ground. By game’s end, Dallas dropped from first to fourth overall in rush defense.
McCoy put it all on display; the burst, elusiveness, ability to cut on a dime and his ability to handle a heavy workload. He is nothing less than a dynamic playmaker and the MVP of this team through seven games. I’d also like to praise Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg for their offensive game plan.
Realizing the Cowboys were going to blitz, the Eagles did what every team in the league does to Philly; let their pass rushers run up field, wash them down, and create open cut-back lanes for their running back to run across the grain. It was by far the best play calling I’ve seen all year.
The Eagles Offensive Line – Dominant. That’s the only word I can use to describe what the Philadelphia offensive line. Whether it was their run or pass blocking, this formerly much-maligned unit excelled.
This group is turning into one of, if not the best run-blocking lines coach Reid has had in Philly. Cowboy’s defensive coordinator and “foot in mouth” enthusiast (in a different way than his brother Rex) threw a lot of different blitzes at the Eagles line. It didn’t work. At all.
Ryan couldn’t call a defensive play to stop Michael Vick or McCoy. He was simply outcoached. Just think, the players on this Eagles line are still very young and trying to gel. Imagine how good this team can be once everything comes together.
Nnamdi Asomugha (CB/Eagles) – I don’t even want to talk about his interception. That was a tipped ball into his hands and that break could have happened for anyone. I want to talk about how he and the rest of the secondary shut down the supposed best receiving corps in the NFC East. One thing that worries me is Asomugha only plays on the right side of the defense. I realize that’s where he’s played his entire career, but I’d much rather have him moved to wherever the opponent’s best receiver is positioned.
Regardless, it didn’t matter much last night. Whether it was Asomugha or Asante Samuel covering Dez Bryant or Miles Austin, everything Juan Castillo dialed up worked. Even Jason Witten had a quiet game which almost never happens against the Eagles. They frustrated Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo from the start and really got to Bryant. (Side note: Did you see Bryant on the sidelines and on the field yelling? T.O. much, Dez?) Asomugha has really settled into this defense after a rocky start.
Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) – I’ve been clamoring for Vick to step up in a leadership role for weeks now. I also said that if he wants to win, it’s going to be all on his shoulders. He must have gotten the memo. Yes, LeSean McCoy was dominant, but Vick had success both in and out of the pocket–when he had time and when he had to rush throws. It was all working for Vick on Sunday night. If this offensive line can continue to mature together, while Vick and McCoy hit their stride–look out. The naysayers could be in for a rude awakening after writing off this team after five games.