Eagles-Cowboys Week 2 Preview: Five Storylines to Watch


The Philadelphia Eagles will host the division rival Dallas Cowboys this week after losing their mistake-laden opener to the Atlanta Falcons. If Chip Kelly wants to avoid an 0-2 start and the near-psychotic, vindictive ire of Philly fans, his squad will have to play a full sixty minutes. The Eagles made a slew of mental errors in the first half against the Falcons, playing from behind the majority of the game.

Marquis free-agent acquisition DeMarco Murray was given a lighter workload then expected, finishing the game with a mere 12 touches. With Murray facing his former team this week, expect Chip Kelly to further involve the running back in his plans. Here are some other potential sub-plots for Sunday’s game.

Picking Bradford’s shots. In his first game as an Eagle, Sam Bradford threw 52 times for 336 yards, averaging an uninspiring 6.46 yards per attempt. The absence of downfield throws has been a constant indictment on Bradford throughout his career, with only a fraction of his passes exceeding 10 yards. Let’s hope we can chalk last week’s performance up to game rust, because an offense can only produce so much while relying on screens and a quick passing game. Bradford will be facing a suspect Dallas secondary, so opportunities to burn them deep should present themselves.

Offensive line woes. The Eagles’ abysmal first half was largely due to a clumsy offensive line featuring two new starting guards. While they regained some sense of composure in the second half, their blunders impeded the team’s ball movement, with every lineman being penalized for holding at least once. The unit also surrendered several hits on Sam Bradford, three of which came from O’Brien Schofield alone. They’ll need to stop shooting themselves in the foot in order for Bradford to survive a full season and to allow DeMarco Murray to lighten the QB’s load.

Maxwell’s redemption? It didn’t matter whether Byron Maxwell covered Julio Jones or Roddy White last week, he looked like the heir to Izel Jenkins‘ nickname of “Toast” regardless. It’s only Week 2, but Eagles fans are holding their collective breath hoping they won’t see a sequel to the Cary Williams/Bradley Fletcher experiment. In Maxwell’s defense, Jones is practically uncoverable, and his partner Nolan Carroll didn’t fare much better. But the Eagles didn’t spend $60-plus million on Carroll. With Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant nursing a broken foot, Maxwell will likely spend the bulk of his night covering Terrence Williams. Let the prayers begin.

Birds’ Front 7 vs. Cowboys’ O-Line. The Cowboys boast arguably the best offensive line in football, while the Eagles’ front seven has the potential to be dominant. Even with a patchwork running back committee of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Christine Michael, the Dallas O-line can provide their team with a respectable running game. In a sport where games are often decided in the trenches, it’ll be a treat to watch Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton battle for position against a supremely talented line. Look  for Eagles DC Billy Davis to dial up some creative blitzes and a strong showing by pass-rush specialist Vinny Curry.

Kelly’s tempo vs. Dallas’ cardio. Last week, the Eagles came back to flirt with victory because the Falcons D couldn’t match the pace of Chip Kelly’s offense. Fans can take comfort in knowing that sooner or later, opposing defenses will tire from the tempo, rendering their pass rushes punchless. Assuming the Birds’ offense doesn’t repeat a messy first half, they should pull off an early lead, with their pace wearing the Cowboys’ defense down and affording Sam Bradford a clean pocket to work with.

The game begins at 4:25 ET on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Next: Eagles Analysis: How can they control the Cowboys?

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