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Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: Final thoughts

Eliot Shorr-Parks
October 20, 2019 - 8:43 am

The Eagles monster showdown with the Dallas Cowboys is now just hours away, but before the two teams kickoff, here are some final thoughts on the big game: 

Andre Dillard: The attention has been on DeSean Jackson and his injury status all week, and with good reason — the Eagles desperately need him back. Not enough is being made of the Eagles being without Jason Peters, however, an injury that will force rookie tackle Andre Dillard into the lineup. 

Dillard was forced into action last week against the Minnesota Vikings, and it was understandably a tough spot. Still, Dillard allowed seven pressures and one sack in limited action according to Pro Football Focus. Not exactly a stellar showing. This week Dillard will be matched up against Robert Quinn, who Doug Pederson says is playing the best football of his career, or Pro-Bowl end Demarcus Lawrence. Dillard acknowledged this week that Lawerence could line up across from him, and the Cowboys would be wise to make sure that happens. 

The Eagles are having enough issues on offense without having to worry about one of their offensive linemen, a luxury they have had so far this season. If Dillard struggles thing could get ugly quickly, and the team should be prepared to have a quick hook and go to Halapoulvaati Vaitai if needed. 

Jalen Mills: The Eagles will be getting back their best cornerback on Sunday when Jalen Mills returns. Outside of just what is likely going to be an epic pre-game speech from Mills, getting the confidence and swagger that Mills brings to the field should be a boost to the secondary. Expecting Mills to play at a high level, however, might be asking too much. Mills hasn’t played a football game in 357 days due to a foot injury. The Eagles have seen first hand how much missing the offseason can impact a player — just look at Brandon Graham last year or Fletcher Cox this year. Expect the Cowboys to go right after Mills to start the game. 

Quick start: Each week a quick start is important and each week the Eagles come out of the gate sloppy and slow. So there isn’t much hope the Eagles will get off to a quick start on Sunday night. Still, of all the weeks to do it, it would be huge this week if they could, considering the pressure on Dallas to win at home and how much they like to run the ball. Get an early lead, shake the Cowboys confidence and force them to abandon the running game.

Linebackers: Linebacker Nate Gerry has actually played at a fairly high level in his snaps this season, and if Kamu Grugier-Hill plays like he did in training camp, giving him increased snaps will look like a wise decision. That being said, this is a tough week to be without Nigel Bradham, who is arguably the best linebacker on the team against the run. Gerry and Grugier-Hill should be fine in pass coverage, but both need to have a big game against the run to make up for the absence of Bradham. 

Amari Cooper: How healthy Cooper really is could be the deciding factor in this game. Cooper was a major issue for the Eagles last season after being traded to the Cowboys. In the team’s first matchup, his first game with the Cowboys, Cooper pulled in six catches for 75 yards. In the second he pulled in 10 catches for a whopping 217 yards and three touchdowns. The key to beating the Eagles is no secret — throw the ball deep. Having Cooper — if he is healthy — will be the key to making that happen for the Cowboys. 

Wentz: It is important each week for Wentz to play well. This week, however, is when the Eagles really need to Wentz to play like the franchise quarterback they believe he is. Sunday night, at the Dallas Cowboys, against Dak Prescott with (albeit it early on) 1st place in the NFC East on the line. Wentz simply can’t go into Dallas and losses to Prescott and the Cowboys again. Not after losing to them twice last year when it mattered and not coming off of a blowout loss in Minnesota last week. This game is the biggest of Wentz’s career. He needs to make sure the conversation on Monday morning is how great he played — because the alternative is not a discussion Eagles fans are both not going to enjoy and are almost certainly not prepared to have. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!