Staff writer Steve Fini takes a look at five players likely to decide today’s NFC East showdown in Dallas.
Laurent Robinson (WR/Cowboys) – Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, etc. All big names that haven’t done as much for the Dallas offense in the second half of the season as Robinson has. He’s a no name guy who has come out of nowhere and developed great chemistry with quarterback Tony Romo. He was even one of the few Cowboys who had a good game against the Eagles in Philly earlier this season. He’s also the type of slot receiver who gives the Eagles trouble. The Eagles will really need veteran corner Joselio Hanson to play well in the slot and keep Robinson from hitting the big play down field.
DeSean Jackson (WR/Eagles) – We’ve been waiting for Jackson to make his mark on the season. Thus far, he’s been quiet, but that’s just not his style. Jackson loves the spotlight and it has almost never been brighter for him. I just can’t imagine Jackson, wanting a contract extension, wanting top receiver money, to end the season like this. I fully expect his routes to be as crisp as ever, him to run as hard and as fast as ever, and for him to try and return every punt for a touchdown (he doesn’t have one this year…yet.). I’m really expecting Jackson to come out with his feet on fire and blow right past any coverage that Dallas tries to throw at him.
LeSean McCoy (RB/Eagles) – McCoy tore up the Cowboys with ease in their last meeting. Neither Ryan brother has been able to figure out a way to contain McCoy. I don’t think Rob Ryan will let the Eagles bully Dallas on the ground for a second time, so I expect his gameplan to be centered around stopping McCoy.
Evan Mathis, Jason Peters (LG, LT/Eagles) – Remember when this offensive line was a concern for the Eagles? Over the last month, the left side of the Eagles’ offensive line has been exceptional. Every big run, short yardage play, and roll out is run to the left. When Celek is lined up to the left, he usually is able to get out in the passing game. When quarterback Michael Vick takes off, he runs to the left and is always successful. Peters has played at a Pro Bowl level and should find his way on to the NFC team. But the bigger surprise is Evan Mathis, who should also get Pro Bowl consideration. He’s stepped up in a huge way to help solidify this group. The Eagles will see a ton of blitzes this week so it will be crucial for these two players to make sure that atleast one side of the offense is solid.
Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) – When you’re the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and your season is on the line against the Dallas Cowboys you better step up. Donovan McNabb’s last game against the Cowboys was nothing short of a debacle and look where he sits in most Eagles fans’ eyes. I criticized Vick for much of this year because he seemed to missing some of the fire and leadership of a year ago, but since returning from his rib injury it seems to be back. You see him on the sidelines talking, yelling, and firing his players up. Against a Ryan defense you know Vick will have his chances. Physically, he can go out there and destroy the Cowboys on his own. Mentally, he needs everyone to step up around him. He needs to lead this team to victory and run off the field at Cowboys stadium staring right up at Jerry Jones.