At the end of last weekend, when the stage was finally set for the NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys for sole possession of first place, no one was really talking about the defenses. That’s because neither defense is very good. The Eagles rank dead last in the NFL and the Cowboys are not far behind. Philadelphia has nowhere to go but up, and although they still give up a ton of yards, there have been some major improvements over the past few weeks.
Building on the little progress they have made, taking advantage of small amounts of confidence and limiting their preparation to certain areas will make all the difference come Sunday when the Cowboys visit Lincoln Financial Field. The game plan for Dallas is all but laid out for defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
The Eagles should spend as much time as possible preparing for the Dallas passing game for two reasons. First, Philadelphia already does a better job against the run, so spending time to improve their pass defense which is weaker will help them to move closer to building a complete defense. In addition, with DeMarco Murray most likely sidelined, the Cowboys will be forced to throw the ball more often than they had planned. Against plenty of aerial weapons, the Eagles’ defense will have their hands full, but preparing ahead of time to handle different formations and keep with the receivers in coverage will go a long way to helping control the game.
Dropping defenders into coverage and allowing a small group of linemen to concentrate on pressuring the quarterback and stop the run would be a plan to take care of all aspects of the game. More players could then be dropped in coverage on receivers, making it easier to control the veteran receivers of Dallas and possibly open up more options for the blitz later on.
As the game grows closer, the more the Eagles can concentrate on winning the defensive side of the passing game, the more likely they are to be able to overtake their shortcomings and gain sole possession of first place in the division.