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Eagles-Cowboys Postgame: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
What happens when two of the worst defenses in the entire NFL, go up against two of the top four offenses in the NFL? A 17-3 snooze-fest, of course.
Yes, everyone including yours truly, predicted a high-scoring shootout when the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and instead we got a punting exhibition.
The Cowboys punted on their first five possessions, but that wasn't nearly as bad as the Eagles performance on Sunday. The Eagles first seven drives ended with a punt. The eighth drive ended with a missed 60-yard field goal attempt near the end of the first half. Then the Eagles offense decided to go back to punting, because I guess they felt that Donnie Jones was doing such a great job, they might as well let him punt the football some more. In all, the Eagles punted on nine of their first ten possessions. Yes, it was that bad for the offenses in this game.
This shouldn't have been possible. The Eagles and Cowboys had the 2nd and 4th highest scoring offenses respectively in the NFL going into the game and both defenses were at the very bottom of the league. Yet, the score was 3-0 at halftime, in favor of the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were not only a bad defense so far this season, but they were also missing their best player, DeMarcus Ware. So of course, they held the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy to 12 yards on 8 first half carries and 55 yards on 18 carries for the game. They absolutely shut down the Eagles passing game and made the reigning NFC Player of the Week, Nick Foles, look like a rookie playing in his first NFL game. And then the Dallas defense made an actual rookie playing in his first game, QB Matt Barkley, look like a rookie playing in his very first NFL game. Barkley threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter after Foles got hurt.
Foles completed just 11 of his 29 passes with no touchdowns and no interceptions and suffered a concussion in the third quarter that basically ends any chance he has of being the quarterback going forward.
Foles didn't look like the same quarterback who hit receivers in stride and was in full control of Chip Kelly's offense in his first six quarters of action after Michael Vick got hurt against the Giants. Against Dallas, Foles looked tentative in the pocket and was missing open receivers all game. The most glaring misfire was when he underthrew a wide open Jason Avant in the endzone. His 46.2 QB Rating was the second worst of his career.
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Of course, Foles' receivers weren't helping him out any, as they simply weren't getting open on a consistent basis. DeSean Jackson was completely shut down by Brandon Carr, who played man coverage on Jackson most of the game. Jackson was held to 21 yards on three catches. That's not what a supposed No. 1 receiver does in a big game. When Riley Cooper leads the team in receptions and yardage with 6 for 88, you know things aren't going well for your team.
The offensive line did a decent job pass protecting, but they got manhandled by a depleted Dallas defensive line in the running game. McCoy didn't have any holes to run through all day. He also spent too much time looking for the cutback for a big gainer, instead of simply taking the yardage that was available to him. It was obviously the Cowboys' game plan to stack eight-in-the-box and try to neutralize McCoy. It worked very well against what was the best rushing attack in the NFL. That left the defensive backs in man coverage with a single safety over the top. But this being a Monte Kiffin defense, they did mix in some zone and his "Tampa 2" scheme a bit to keep the Eagles offense off balance. It worked like a charm.
Not to take anything away from how truly awful Nick Foles was in this game, but Chip Kelly called a horrible game offensively. There were no imaginative alignments to fool the Cowboys. No movement to get Jackson away from Carr. No adjustments at halftime after getting dominated in the first half. Kelly said it was a total team effort in the loss. He should have included himself and his coaches in the blame game.
The most shocking thing in this game is that the Eagles defense played an amazing game. Tony Romo threw for 317 yards on 28-for-47 passing, but a good portion of that was due to the fact that the Eagles defense spent most of the game on the field thanks to their anemic offense. They tired out in the second half, but still held Romo to a season-low 59.6 completion percentage.
It's also strange to say that a defense did a good job against a receiver who caught 8 passes for 110 yards, but when you consider that Dez Bryant was targeted 16 times and didn't score a touchdown, you have to give the much-maligned Eagles secondary some credit. You also need to give some credit to LB DeMeco Ryans. He led the defense with seven tackles, a sack and an interception that he returned 36 yards to the Dallas 30-yard line with 2:46 left in the third quarter. That set up the Eagles only points of the day, as they settled for an Alex Henery 31-yard field goal. I guess Ryans and the defense needed to score themselves, since Foles and the offense weren't going to score on this day.
The defense did allow Dallas to salt the victory away with a 10-play, 72-yard drive after that field goal, so it's not like they played great. But considering how bad the defense has been this season and how explosive the Cowboys offense has been this year, this is not a day to criticize the defense.
No, all the criticism should be direct towards Kelly, Foles and the rest of the Eagles offense. There is no reason why they didn't score in the 30s against a bad Dallas defense that was missing a few of their star players.
What should have been an exciting game turned into a punt, pass and kick competition, without the passing or kicking. These two teams came into the game averaging a combined 58.2 points per game and allowing a combined 55.2 points per game. They didn't come close to those numbers on this day.
With the loss, the Eagles have now set a franchise record with nine straight losses at home. That's embarrassing and sad. It also stinks for season ticket holders like me, who haven't seen a win at home in over a calendar year. Luckily, that last win was against the New York Giants, who visit the Linc next week. But even if they make it ten in a row, there is no way they could post a worse offensive showing than they did against the Cowboys.........right?