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Eagles vs Cowboys 1st Half Observations

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The Philadelphia Eagles (13-2) take on the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) in Week 17 action. The Eagles have the chance at their best record in their history with a win, which would put them at 14-2. Here are my first half observations:

Eagles 1st Drive (1st, 15:00)

  • First play begins with the typical speed out, this time to WR Alshon Jeffery. We’ve shown this opening so much, look for an out-and-up in the playoffs.
  • Putting more constraint plays on tape with a jet sweep to WR Nelson Agholor for a first down.
  • Foles sharp to start, dropping one over the linebackers to Zach Ertz for a first down. Three productive plays to start.
  • Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (14.5 sacks) gets a quick pressure on Foles, beating RG Brandon Brooks and causing an incompletion.
  • WR Torrey Smith drops a crossing route at the sticks on 3rd down. Nice design with the clear-out routes with trips right.
  • 4th & 7 not converted on a high throw to Torrey Smith. Ball sailed on Foles a little bit, didn’t look comfortable in the pocket with Lawrence applying pressure on a stunt (aka Eagles kryptonite)

Cowboys 1st Drive (1st, 11:43)

  • Rasul Douglas and Ronald Darby get the start as outside cornerbacks.
  • WR Dez Bryant gets open on a deep out, turning Douglas, but QB Dak Prescott throws an inaccurate hospital ball.
  • 4th and Inches, DE Vinny Curry gets immediate penetration and RB Ezekiel Elliot is stuffed short. Big stand for the defense.

Eagles 2nd Drive (1st, 9:01)

  • Demarcus Lawrence blows up a screen, scraping down and then beating TE Brent Celek for the pressure, his fourth pressure of the day already.
  • 3rd & 12: Hard count gets the Cowboys to jump, setting up 3rd & 7. Another hard count, Ertz chips Lawrence and falls, Burton runs an out and falls, incomplete. All for chipping Lawrence, who has been terrorizing the offense early, but it does limit what you can do from a design standpoint with the offense.
  • Good to see the Eagles utilizing hard counts, will be a tool to use in the playoffs with home field advantage.

Cowboys 2nd Drive (1st, 7:42)

  • Dak throws another hospital ball to Dez in double coverage. Sails the next one to Dez, Darby had tight coverage. Dak missing a lot early.

Eagles 3rd Drive (1st, 6:39)

  • Cowboys bring the heat on first, RB Corey Clement does a nice job stepping into the fire to buy Foles enough time to find Ertz.
  • Foles has trouble with the snap. Kelce put it a little low. Something that needs to be cleaned up.
  • Foles rolls to his right (oh boy), floats one against cover 2 zone, underneath man easily able to cut under WR Alshon Jeffery for the interception by rookie CB Chidobe Awuzie. Bad throw, poor decision by Foles.

Cowboys 3rd Drive (1st, 4:35)

  • LB Najee Goode reads his keys in the run game and comes up with a TFL on Zeke, setting up 3rd & 4.
  • 3rd & 4, CB Sidney Jones in the game covering Dez. Short throw closed on by Rasul Douglas leads to a punt. No sense of urgency from the Cowboys getting into their routes, looked to be jogging.

Eagles 4th Drive (1st, 2:26)

  • Penalties by Ertz (false start) and C Jason Kelce (block in the back) derail the drive. More sloppiness. Offense needs a spark, desperately. 53 first quarter yards.

Cowboys 4th Drive (1st, 0:02)

  • Chris Long and Beau Allen get pressure on Dak, forcing him to scramble short of the sticks with Kendricks in pursuit. 4th & 1 and the Cowboys decide to punt inside Eagles territory?! What do you have to lose?

Eagles 5th Drive (2nd, 14:00)

  • Nick Foles out, Nate Sudfeld in. Running quick concepts, swing screens, read options with backside slants, inside zones.
  • 3rd & 13: Nice throw by Sudfeld to Marcus Johnson to convert, but Halapoulivaati Vaitai holds Tyrone Crawford to get in called back, setting up 3rd & 23 and an eventual punt that pins the Cowboys inside their own 20.

Cowboys 5th Drive (2nd, 9:12)

  • Zeke getting shut down so far, another no yard gain. Fletcher Cox said not letting Zeke get to 1,000 yards meant something for the defense, which would mean holding him to 120 yards.
  • Steven Means! Shoots to the inside on La’el Collins for his first sack of the season and second of his career. Wondered out loud in the Injury Impact report about how Means would do, happy for ’em.
  • Fourth 3 and out in a row for the Cowboys.

Eagles 6th Drive (2nd, 7:08)

  • Quick slant to Mack Hollins, right through his hands, solid placement by Sudfeld.
  • Datone Jones beats new RT Will Beatty to the outside for the sack, met there by DeMarcus Lawrence. Knocks the Eagles out of FG position. This should put to bed starting Beatty over Vaitai. The saga continues, Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang.

Cowboys 6th Drive (2nd, 5:28)

  • Cowboys start at their own 4 yard-line, starting with another 0 yard gain for Zeke.
  • Underneath throw to WR Ryan Switzer gets the Cowboys their second 1st down of the day.
  • Zeke fumbles the hand-off, recovered by the offense, penalty on Vinny Curry (offsides).
  • Holding by Byron Bell on Vinny Curry negates a 52 yard pass play to Dez on Rasul, poorly played in the air by Rasul.
  • Zeke run, Dak scramble, and Switzer catch for first downs get the drive moving for the Cowboys under two minutes.
  • Zeke just chipped Vinny Curry out of his socks. Curry landed on the legs of guard Jonathan Cooper, who remained down on the field.
  • Byron Bell with his second hold on Curry. Can’t block ’em.
  • Terrence Williams holding his ankle on the bench.
  • 3rd & 20 checkdown to Witten. Drive had promise, but this Cowboys offense looks devoid of life, much like the Eagles offense.

Eagles 7th Drive (2nd, 0:31)

  • Blount run gets us the hell out of… timeout? Okay. :22 left from their own 22 yard-line.
  • Screen to Blount gets a 1st. Beatty ended up on his can, looks like he’s been off balance since coming in, not a great look.
  • Meaningless catch for Agholor ends the half, mercifully.

Both of these offenses look lifeless, which is a bad sign for the Eagles heading into the playoffs. The defense, however, looks to be up to it’s normal stiffing antics at home, which is going to be much needed in January. I argued for Foles playing time coming into this game, but to be honest it doesn’t look to have made a darn bit of difference. Get us out of here healthy, please.

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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