Doug Pederson's Culture the Difference Between Eagles, Cowboys

Ed Kracz

Nearly 60 million Americans have already cast their vote in the upcoming election, though there is no word on how many of those are Dallas Cowboys.

What looks certain is that the Cowboys have mailed in their last two games and will now visit the Eagles on Sunday night.

Picked by many to win the NFC East, Dallas (2-5) has lost two in a row and haven’t competed in either loss.

They fell behind 22-3 at halftime of their eventual 25-3 loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday and trailed 21-3 at halftime of their eventual 38-10 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals last week.

Their pass defense has been shredded all season, but now their run defense is poor, giving up 130 yards and a touchdown to the WFT’s Antonio Gibson on 20 carries, including a 40-yard bolt, and 164 yards on the ground to with two touchdowns, including a 69-yard gallop, on 20 runs by Arizona’s Kenyon Drake.

Philadelphia was picked by some to win the NFC East, even though the odds of winning it two years in a row goes against the trend of history. The last team win back-to-back division titles were the Eagles in 2003 and 2004.

Injuries have thunderstruck both teams, especially on the offensive line.

Dallas lost its quarterback Dak Prescott, but everyone sang the praises of the Cowboys' move to bring in Andy Dalton as the backup. The best backup quarterback in the NFL was the sell job.

Well, Dalton is no Nick Foles, who stepped in when Carson Wentz got hurt in 2017 and became a Super Bowl MVP and champion.

Now, the Cowboys will likely be without Dalton when they visit on Sunday after a cheap shot by Washington’s Jon Bostic while Dalton was giving himself up as a runner could keep in concussion protocol for a while.

Frankly, the Eagles have responded much better to adversity.

Look at last year when they won four straight to go from 5-7 to 9-7 and champions of the NFC East.

The Cowboys are playing like they feel sorry for themselves and they are pointing fingers, especially at new coach Mike McCarthy and his staff.

The Eagles don’t do that.

Perhaps no team has been hammered harder by injury these past few years than the Eagles. Yet, they stay competitive. They still win.

A lot of that is a credit to head coach Doug Pederson and the culture he has installed during his five years as the head coach.

“The guys never stopped fighting, that’s never going to change,” said running back Boston Scott after Thursday night’s gut check, a 22-21 win over the New York Giants that required an 11-point comeback in the final six minutes.

Another big part is leadership. The Eagles have that all over the field, starting with Carson Wentz on offense and moving over to Brandon Graham on defense. There are others, too.

Also, Eagles players say it all the time - there is no finger-pointing, they are a team, a family.

“We just keep on fighting,” said Graham. “We don’t worry about the past. We try to stay futuristic as, ‘It is what it is, now what are we going to do?’ … We fight to the end.”

Who are the Cowboys’ leaders?

Good question.

Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t stepped up in leadership or on the field. The running back has five fumbles, four dropped passes, two of which led to interceptions, and has been run over in pass protection, surrendering seven QB hits.

There was a lot of love shown for the Cowboys draft class, but first-round pick CeeDee Lamb was targeted five times against the WFT and didn’t have a catch.

Now, it appears that Dallas will have to turn to seventh-round quarterback Ben DiNucci out of James Madison if Dalton cannot clear concussion protocol, and judging by the way he left the field on Sunday, that looks like a tall task.

Not that Dalton has done much since taking over for Prescott. He was 9-for-19 for 75 yards with an interception before being knocked out of Sunday’s game and against the Cardinals, his stats were misleading, compiled in early garbage time, but he did have two interceptions.

Like Dalton, DiNucci won’t have much success unless the Cowboys decide to stop mailing it in.

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