How the Philadelphia Eagles can beat the Cowboys at their own game

Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

As much as the Philadelphia Eagles hate the Dallas Cowboys (we’ll never blame them for that). The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team. They aren’t great, but they’re good and have been for some time now. As you’re well aware, it’s been a long time since the Eagles have beaten them, but they will this Sunday if they beat them at their own game.

Dallas has gotten back to football fundamentals: running the football and playing great defense, and as the great sensei, Johnny Lawrence said in the Netflix hit series Cobra Kai, “The best defense is more offense.” The Eagles know that as well, and though they have displayed instances in which they seem to have forgotten, many of the things Dallas does well, the Eagles do better.

The Eagles, in Week 5 versus the Arizona Cardinals, missed tackles. It also wasn’t Shane Steichen‘s best day at the office. He ignored A.J. Brown after the first drive. He ignored the running game until it became necessary to pound the rock during that final drive in the fourth quarter.

This week, expect something better. Expect the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff and Steichen to pull a page out of Dallas’ book and raise them one by doing what the Cowboys like to do (and doing it more efficiently).

The Philadelphia Eagles can dismantle the Cowboys by beating them at their own game.

In order to defeat Dallas, the Philadelphia Eagles must copy the Cowboys’ game plan to some degree, focus on running the football playing great defense of their own. While fans obsessed with Jalen Hurts’ development as a passer won’t be happy, pounding the rock may be key to an Eagles victory.

Kenneth Gainwell has shown a knack for being physical and seeking contact when need be. He plays the ‘Tony Pollard’ role in this theory. Miles Sanders has proven to be better at running between the tackles too. He’s our Ezekiel Elliott (minus the obvious physical decline).

The questions this time around are about how effective the outside runs to beat contain are. No one is going to run around or past Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Both are rightfully known as great pass rushers. They are also keys to the Cowboys run defense.

Both Parsons and Lawrence set the edge in the run game to funnel the backs toward the defensive tackles. Expect to see a lot of double teams at the point of attack, e.g., Duo, and pulling guards to get Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson some help on the edge of the formations.

That’s another way of making the following statement. Attacking the Dallas Cowboys with Miles Sanders and the running game could make for an easy win.

The Cowboys are a rare team, within Dan Quinn’s scheme, they use a lot of single high pre-snap looks, but they’re also gap-sound and great at defending the run.

Jayron Kearse, the team’s strong safety plays in the box similar to Kam Chancellor’s role on the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense, as an enforcer against the run and the quick passing game. He’s elite in that role.

Expect Jack Stoll to get snaps as a run blocker. Expect to see Zach Pascal, Dallas Goedert, and Grant Calcaterra on wham blocks, down blocks, and crack blocks, depending on their alignment.

As an NFC East team, the Eagles have one of the league’s easiest schedules. You can only play who lines up across from you, but make no mistake about it. Two games versus Dallas, beginning with this first meeting on Sunday Night Football, will answer a lot of questions about this team and where this roster is as a contender.