In the NFL, an explosive play is defined as a passing gain of 20 yards or more, or a rush for at least 10 yards. So often, they have the biggest impact in a game.
When Rob Ryan was hired, for example, it was in large part because his ideas of good defense aligned with those held by Jason Garrett, emphasizing the importance of stopping the run, while not allowing big plays in the passing game. The Cowboys have been excellent in those areas through six games.
But their opponent this week, the Eagles, specialize in explosive plays. With the most athletic quarterback in league history, Michael Vick, they present the threat of a scramble on every play, but also have two incredibly fast wide receivers he can get the ball to in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, both of whom are threats downfield as well as on catch-and-run plays. Running back LeSean McCoy is equally threatening as a receiver out of the backfield as he is taking handoffs.
In six games, the Eagles have had 44 explosive plays, 24 passing and 20 rushing.
Defensively, the Cowboys have given up 22 explosive plays on the year, but they haven’t faced the kind of scrambling threat that Vick presents.
“It’s very important being in the right place, because you have to prevent some of those things from happening,” safety Abe Elam said. “Guys can make mistakes up from and it won’t cost points, but when you make mistakes on the back-end, it’s going to cost us six points.”
Last year, when Philadelphia beat the Cowboys 30-27 at Cowboys Stadium, it was a 91-yard catch and run by Jackson that proved monumental in a tie game in the fourth quarter.
Because the Cowboys aim to play such sound defense every week, they won’t have to change too much against the Eagles.
“You can’t get caught up into ‘Oh, we’re facing D-Jack (DeSean Jackson) this week, I don’t want him to do this, I don’t want him to do that,'” cornerback Mike Jenkins said. “Of course you know what his talents are, but you don’t want to start speaking nothing until existence. You know what you do. You just do what you do.”
As of two weeks ago, during their bye, the Cowboys were holding out roughly a dozen players for rest and recovery from injuries. In Wednesday’s first practice in preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles, only one sat out.
Running back Felix Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain at New England, remains sidelined, while every other player was fully suited out and appeared ready for some level of participation, including defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had been out since Week 3, and guard Derrick Dockery, who has been missing since Week 2.
Hatcher, who took on a starting role to begin the season but has been out of the lineup because of a calf strain, worked with team athletic trainers on resistance cords shortly before the workout, but has said he expects to play on Sunday.
Marcus Spears has started in his place. The Cowboys have not said whether Hatcher would return to the starting lineup on defense.
Also among the players who have been out of the lineup but were suited out Wednesday was kicker David Buehler. The kickoff specialist had limited participation all last week, but was kept out of the lineup, Jason Garrett saying he was scratched for continued issues stemming from a strained groin.
Practicing for the second straight week was second-round rookie linebacker Bruce Carter, who remains on the Non-Football Injury list, but tweeted on Tuesday night that he would be “Finally active this week vs the Eagles!” The Cowboys would have until Saturday to add him to their 53-man roster.
A full-pads session, Wednesday is the Cowboys’ most physical and intense practice of the week.
DeMarco Murray was nominated for NFC offensive player of the week, and he deserved it after rushing for a team-record 253 yards against the Rams. But Saints quarterback Drew Brees won the award, the NFL announced Wednesday.
Brees completed 31 of 35 passes (88.6 percent) for 325 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 144.9 passer rating in the Saints’ 62-7 win over Indianapolis. He did not, however, set any records Sunday.
Murray broke the team’s rookie and all-time single-game rushing marks. He also had the most yards ever against the Rams. Murray’s performance was the 10th-best in NFL history.
RELATED: One award DeMarco Murray didn’t get this week … can get others (VOTE)
I figured this one was in the bag – so much so that I went ahead and wrote this story ahead of time. But just like I did with Nnamdi signing with the Cowboys, I had to scrap it.
No, DeMarco Murray didn’t win NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Apparently, setting the Cowboys’ franchise record of 253 rushing yards, which is the 10th best performance in league history, wasn’t good enough for the league office. The NFL picked Saints QB Drew Brees instead for his five-touchdown performance in the Saints’ 62-7 win. Pretty amazing stats for Brees as well, completing 31 of 35 with no interceptions.
And while you can say Brees did it against the Colts, Murray of course, did his damage against the Rams, who are also winless.
It’s too bad for Murray, who would’ve become the first Cowboys’ rookie to win this award since Quincy Carter did it 10 years ago and just the third overall. And no Cowboys running back has been Offensive POW since Emmitt Smith in 2002 the week he broke Walter Payton’s rushing record.
For Brees, it’s his 13th time to win the Player of the Week award, and 11th with the Saints.
But fans can also help Murray win two more awards this week. He’s nominated for the FedEx Ground award and the Pepsi Rookie award. Both winners will be announced Friday on NFL Network’s Total Access and NFL.com.
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The Boys Are Back comment: You can still vote for DeMarco Murray, for a few more hours. Click HERE to go to The Boys Are Back post … links will take you to both voting pages.
Linebacker Bruce Carter said he will be active Sunday. He worked with the first-team punt units in Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m excited,” Carter said. “It’s been a long journey. That ACL is no joke. I don’t wish that on my worst enemy.”
Carter, the team’s second-round pick out of UNC, hasn’t played since Nov. 20 when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a game against the Tar Heels’ rival, North Carolina State. Carter missed all of training camp and the first six weeks of the season. He practiced for the first time Oct. 19. Carter said he still is not in “football shape” yet.
“I think he’s doing a good job,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s been on the sidelines, running, and everybody’s been optimistic about that, but it’s different once you get out there and you start playing with the people around you and you’re stopping and starting and having to move spontaneously. I think he’s getting himself back into the football mode. He had a good week last week, and we’ll just keep evaluating him and see how he progresses.”
The Cowboys will have to make a roster move to get Carter on the 53-player roster. Candidates to be cut are receiver Jesse Holley, who was working on the special teams scout team Wednesday, offensive tackle Jermey Parnell, offensive guard Daniel Loper and kicker David Buehler.
The Dallas Cowboys can expect to be greeted by all sorts of sights when they play in Philadelphia on the night before Halloween.
“That environment is going to be crazy,” defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “It’s going to be a hostile environment, but we’re preparing and getting ready for it.”
Cornerback Alan Ball said the Dallas Cowboys can expect the unusual every time they go to Philadelphia.
“Philly is always a scene, no matter what,” he said. “Whether it’s Halloween or the first of September. So I’m definitely excited to get out there. I forgot about it being Halloween, but no matter what, it’s going to be a good time when you’ve got Dallas and Philly coming together.”
Hatcher said it’s no different for any team going into Philadelphia.
“I don’t care who you are,” he said. “You don’t have to have a rivalry with them.”
This weekend, on Sunday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys. This is the 101st meeting between these NFC East rivals. In a twist of fate, another Ryan will be on the sidelines. Dallas’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the son of the famed former Philly head coach Buddy Ryan. Watch the video clips below to get your silver and blue blood pumping. If that isn’t enough, check out the new post, HISTORY: The Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles rivalry, from The Boys Are Back blog. Enjoy!
The Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles rivalry has been one of the higher profile rivalries in the NFL over the past three decades, characterized by bitterly contested games that are typical of the NFC East.
Old Steve Sabol video on the Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles rivalry. Click on “Read more” to continue with post
The owner of the Dallas Cowboys was talking, we think, like the general manager of the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones, who is actually the GM and owner said he’s concerned about using Dez Bryant, one of his dynamic playmakers, on punt returns. It’s pretty interesting to note that Jones has praised Bryant’s ability to return punts where he took two back for touchdowns last year.
But in the 2011 season opener, Bryant injured a thigh forcing him to miss one game and play gimpy in another. He’s healthy now, as evident of his performance on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Bryant was running routes almost pain-free and he was trying to break tackles almost at will. Bryant plays the game with passion. He doesn’t give up anything on the football field. You can tell he likes playing football. He’s into every play on offense and defense. He doesn’t stop talking on the sidelines. He’s talking to himself, his teammates, opponents, the coaches and the fans.
DeMarco Murray’s record-setting rushing performance against the St. Louis Rams was a topic of discussion on ESPN’s “First Take.”
The Monday show featured former Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles fullback Jon Ritchie. Ritchie was asked if Murray’s performance on Sunday was a fluke.
Ritchie said it was.
“Heading into this game he was averaging under three yards a carry,” Ritchie said. “This will never happen again, in my opinion. I like DeMarco Murray as a back, I do. And I think he catches the ball really well. I have issues with his pad level, at times, but against these Rams, it didn’t matter. They’re going in trying to tackle him high. No. 32 against the run coming in.”
Ritchie added that St. Louis was banged up defensively, especially in the secondary, which forced the Rams to keep both safeties away from the line of scrimmage.
“It was just a mess,” Ritchie said of the Rams defense. “A perfect storm for DeMarco Murray.”
ESPN’s Skip Bayless, who was also part of the discussion, isn’t completely sold on Murray shouldering the Cowboys running attack.
“I’ll just say he’s not the real deal,” Bayless said on the show. “I’m not going to trust that DeMarco will save the day without Felix Jones”
Cowboys worked out 14 players in Tuesday. Although they signed none, its in keeping with a season long philosophy under coach Jason Garrett to continue to explore ways to improve the roster.
The list included: running backs Aaron Brown and Jason Parmele; defensive backs C.C. Brown, Chris Horton, Darcel McBath, Justin Taplin-Ross, C.J. Wilson; guards Nick Cole and Mike Gibson; receivers Yamon Figurs, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Tiquan Underwood, Demetrius Williams; tackle Langston Walker.
It’s nice that the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys typically play on Sundays. That way if I want to light a votive candle and pray that Miles Austin develops scurvy, I don’t have to make a special trip to church.
Wish I understood my Dallas Cowboys aversion. All I know is that as a real Philadelphian, they inspire the same kind of animus as Super Pretzels. And for exactly the same reason: They’re both tasteless.
People often ask me why I dislike the Cowboys so. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a Dallas cheerleader until pantaloons above the ankle prompted her resignation, once wrote, let me count the ways:
Tom Landry’s hat. Did he think he was hiding his baldness? The Cowboys first coach wore fedoras right through the Age of Aquarius, shielding his head while the rest of us were expanding ours. I could maybe see the need for one on a December Sunday in Green Bay. But indoors in New Orleans? Or Miami? It was an affectation of the arrogant.
And they’re getting better.
This goes further than a 34-7 rout of the hapless Rams Sunday, a poor team to use as a measuring stick on its best day (to which the Eagles can attest, after a season-opening win in St. Louis) and a laughable measuring stick when A.J. Feeley starts at quarterback.
This goes further than Tony Romo, too. His broken rib felt so good Sunday, he thinks he will not need the painkiller shot he needed to play the last four games – at least, not before the game.
The Cowboys, 3-3 and in second place in the NFC East, are eager to see just how good they can be.
“This is going to be a big test for us,” tight end Jason Witten said Monday. “I’m sure they feel like their season is on the line. We’re starting to play our best. Having Tony healthy and confident, and everybody else hitting on all cylinders, we’re a much better team.”
After they won Sunday, explosive receiver Dez Bryant reiterated his statement that the Cowboys “can’t be beat.”
They’re certainly less beatable than they were.
Here is a look at some facts and figures about all-time series (regular season and playoffs) between the Philadelphia Eagles and the current members of the NFC East:
vs. Dallas Cowboys
Series: Cowboys lead, 59-45
On the road: Cowboys lead, 35-19
In Philly: Eagles lead, 26-24
Playoffs: Cowboys lead, 3-1
At the Linc: Tied, 4-4
Under Reid: Eagles lead, 15-10
Current run: Cowboys won 4 of last 5