- It's clear that this Eagles team can win games, but what makes them so particularly dangerous? Their impressive ability to steadily and consistently move the ball down the field, especially after a successful first down.
Three quick thoughts from the Eagles’ 37–9 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football...
1. What makes the Eagles so dangerous to me is their success if they ‘win’ on first down—they are nearly unstoppable if they can cut the yardage to go in half. This is a team with one of the league’s best pass-catching tight ends, a stable of powerful and deft running backs and a quarterback who negates so many play design flaws or offensive line issues that could arise during the course of a snap. Consider Carson Wentz’s shimmy to evade Damien Wilson with 14:19 to go in the fourth quarter, which helped him convert a key third down. It gives head coach Doug Pederson so much freedom—almost a carte blanche to roll him out and release all his eligible receivers. Other than the Patriots, the Eagles are, on paper, the most difficult team to match up with in the NFL.
2. We are now two games into the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. His absence has manifested itself in different ways, but on Sunday we could add: Needless risks taken by a typically conservative Dak Prescott to the fold. This was Prescott’s first three-interception game of his career, though the final pick was an excusable force on fourth-and-10 down 28 points. Here’s all of Dallas’ drives of the non-Elliott era thus far:
• 10 plays, 33 yards, punt
• 3 plays, 21 yards, touchdown
• 6 plays, 27 yards, punt
• 3 plays, -6 yards, punt
• 8 plays, 31 yards, fumble
• 10 plays, 50 yards, missed FG
• 3 plays, -9 yards, punt
• 13 plays, 52 yards, turnover on downs
• 2 plays, 0 yards, fumble
• 2 plays, 14 yards, game ends
• 4 plays, 7 yards, FG
• 11 plays, 65 yards, FG
• 2 plays, 0 yards, interception
• 3 plays, 6 yards, punt
• 3 plays, 2 yards, punt
• 3 plays -7 yards, interception
• 15 plays, 59 yards, FG
• 5 plays, 32 yards, punt
• 5 plays, 20 yards, punt
• 3 plays, -3 yards, defensive touchdown
• 8 plays, 55 yards, interception
• 3 plays, -5 yards, punt
3. A strange thought: Alfred Morris gained 5.4 yards per carry on 17 carries Sunday, which is 1.3 more yards per carry than Elliott averaged on the season. Elliott had just one game this season with a better yards-per-attempt average. Of course Elliott is a better back and opens the offense up in 100 more ways, but it’s puzzling to me how quickly the Cowboys will drift into a different strategy when most of their offensive line is still among the best in football.