Semi-Coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview


What was that? What the bloody heck was that? After a preseason where the Eagles looked like the best team EVER, fans were beyond excited to see the team dominate in games that actually counted. But for the second straight year, all the Eagles provided was an instant letdown.

Much like the 2014 opener, the Eagles played horrendously in the first half and went into halftime trailing a seemingly inferior team by 17 points. In 2014, the Eagles were able to rally in the second half and win the game. While the 2015 Eagles did rally against the Falcons – and even managed to take a brief lead – the early deficit ultimately proved too much to overcome.

We’re left to wonder if the 2015 Eagles are going to be more like the team we saw in the first half or the second. I hope that the second half was a truer reflection on the team’s ability, because they’re already facing a near must-win situation in week two.

Dallas Cowboys

Record: 1-0

Head Coach: Jason Garrett (42-31)

Last Week: Defeated New York Giants 27-26

The Last Time They Met

Dec 14, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver

Dez Bryant

(88) catches a pass for a touchdown as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback

Bradley Fletcher

(24) defend in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a special teams blunder and Bradley Fletcher’s inability to cover Dez Bryant, the Eagles spotted the Cowboys a 21-0 lead. Despite the early hole, the Eagles weren’t dead. They scored the next 24 points to take the lead.

It looked like the Eagles had seized control of the game, but the Cowboys had an answer of their own. Thanks mostly to the one-two punch of Bryant and DeMarco Murray, they outscored the Eagles 17-3 the rest of the way, and earned a victory which propelled them to an NFC East title.

What’s New with the Cowboys

The Cowboys looked like they were headed for a disappointing week one loss of their own. Thanks to several turnovers and other self-inflicted errors, they were trailing the Giants 23-20 late in the fourth quarter. With the ball near the Cowboy’s goal line, the Giants seemed poised to score a game-sealing touchdown.

However, thanks to some poor clock management by the Giants (more on this later), and a game-winning drive by quarterback Tony Romo (Is he clutch? The debate continues!), the Cowboys were able to escape with a 27-26 victory.

The victory did not come without cost. Star receiver Bryant suffered a broken foot that will keep him out of action for at least six weeks.

Featured Opposing Player: Joseph Randle

Sep 13, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle (21) runs with the ball against New York Giants cornerback D. Rodgers-Cromartie (41) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys decided that they couldn’t afford to pay DeMarco Murray what he would fetch on the free agent market. Their theory was that Murray’s performance was mostly due to the Cowboys’ offensive line, and just about any back could replicate his success. Murray’s backup Joseph Randle seemed to agree with that sentiment when he claimed that Murray “left a lot of meat on the bone” last season.

Given the first shot at being the new featured ball carrier, Randle rushed 16 times for 65 yards and caught three balls for an additional 65 receiving yards. Those are good numbers, but nothing near what Murray was routinely putting up last season. And according to some sources, Randle left a fair amount of meat on the bone himself.

With Bryant out, the Cowboys will likely try to lean more on their running game to compensate. Is Randle capable of delivering Murray-like numbers? Or is the Cowboys offense in a lot of trouble?

Reason to Hate the Cowboys

These guys probably still think

Troy Aikman

is the quarterback. Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We all know that guy. He’s not from Texas. His family isn’t from Texas. He might not even be able to find Texas on the map. (Admittedly, many people who actually are from Texas might not be able to find it on the map.) But for reasons he’s never been able to adequately explain, he’s a Cowboys fan.

Or at least he was a Cowboys fan last year. Curiously, he was rather quiet about the team all those years they weren’t making the playoffs, but now that things are going well, he won’t stop talking about “Dem Boys.”

That guy is the reason we should all hate the Cowboys.

The Eagles in Week Two: A Brief Recent History

Last week, I mentioned that the Eagles have done well in their opening game in recent seasons. But has that success carried over to week two? Not really, as the Eagles are only 4-6 in week two over the last ten seasons.

Sep 15, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back

Darren Sproles

(43) scores a touchdown as he breaks a tackle by Indianapolis Colts linebacker

Josh McNary

(57) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly has gone 1-1 in week two. Last year, mostly thanks to Darren Sproles and the special teams (along with some bad coaching from their opponents), the Eagles upset the Colts on the road. The year before, they blundered away a very winnable game to the Chargers.

Surprisingly, the Eagles have only been 0-2 once in the past ten years. That came in 2007 when the Eagles opened the season with losses to the Packers and Redskins. (Yes, the Redskins. They actually made the playoffs that season.)

Key Eagles Storyline: The Secondary Woes Continue

Last week, I said that the Falcons’ receivers would provide a good test of the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary. The Eagles did not pass that test.

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver

Julio Jones

(11) catches a touchdown pass past Philadelphia Eagles defensive back

Byron Maxwell

(31) in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Much like star receivers did routinely in 2014, Julio Jones torched the Eagles defense in week one. He racked up 141 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, on the other side, Roddy White chipped in 84 yards.

The Eagles safeties actually played pretty well. Malcolm Jenkins may have hands of stone, but he’s steady, and made a huge play at the end of the game that gave the Eagles a chance to win. Meanwhile, Walter Thurmond‘s interception in the third quarter helped turn the game around.

The corners didn’t fare as well. Byron Maxwell was given his first chance to take on a team’s best receiver. Admittedly, Jones is an amazing talent who might be the best receiver in the NFL, but if Maxwell can’t do any better than what we saw last week, we may have many more weeks of opposing receivers posting huge numbers.

Both Maxwell and the Eagles coaches think the problem can be fixed, and it was all due to poor technique. While that’s great for them to say, it is worrisome that the team’s prize free agent acquisition is having problems with his technique.

Mocking the East

Part of the fun of being a football fan is taking pleasure in the misfortune of your favorite team’s rivals. Each week, I’ll find a reason to make fun of one of the other teams in the NFC East. (Note: Although I’m sure I could feature the Redskins every week, I’ll try to spread around the mockery a bit.)

Manning Face! Image Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Leading by three, with under two minutes remaining, the Giants had the ball at the Cowboys’ four-yard line. Victory seemed inevitable.

Not knowing how many timeouts the Cowboys had left, quarterback Eli Manning advised running back Rashad Jennings not to score if given the opportunity. Jennings did not score, and has claimed that he intentionally stayed out of the end zone.

Perhaps realizing that his back wasn’t trying to score, coach Tom Coughlin called for a pass play on 3rd-and-1. Compounding that mistake, Manning chose to throw the ball away rather than take a sack that would have eaten up 40 more seconds and probably sealed the victory.

I suppose that with an inexperienced coach and quarterback like Coughlin and Manning these types of things are bound to happen, right?

Nick vs. Sam

Since they were traded for each other, it’s only natural that fans would want to compare how Nick Foles and Sam Bradford are faring on their new teams. I’ll take a periodic look at the two quarterbacks and decide who holds the edge.

Nick Foles is not the most elegant quarterback in the NFL. You rarely watch him and think you’re observing a master at his craft. Yet, he consistently seems to put up good numbers and lead his team to victory.

Last week, facing the defending NFC champs, Foles turned in an unspectacular, yet solid game, and led his team to an upset victory.

On the other hand, Sam Bradford spent the first half of his Eagles debut licking his fingers and “being uninspiring.

Bradford rebounded in the second half, and played more like the guy we saw in preseason. But for week one, the edge goes to Foles.

Super Bowl Year Song of the Week

The Eagles have not made many appearances in the Super Bowl (Two, to be exact). I’m hopeful that this season will mark their third appearance in the “big game,” so each week I’m going to take a song from one of the franchise’s Super Bowl seasons (1980 and 2004) that somehow relates to this week’s game.

Burn – Usher, 2004

Byron Maxwell was burned repeatedly by the Falcons’ receivers last week. I hope that we don’t get a repeat of that this week.


This is as close to a must-win situation as you’ll get in week two, since the Eagles certainly don’t want to fall two games behind the Cowboys in the standings.

The Cowboys may not be completely lost without Bryant, but there’s no denying that this is a huge break for the Eagles. My hope is that the first half was just a case of Bradford working off the rust, and that the Eagles’ offense will look more like it did in the second half.

Eagles 30 – Cowboys 24

Next: Section 215 Podcast: Eagles Week One Recap

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