What a game. These are the types of games that save seasons, and it sure saved the Eagles season. I expect the Eagles to gain a lot of confidence from this overtime win versus the Cowboys, thus possibly putting together a win streak in the next couple of weeks. If they do, then the Giants will not be leading this division for long. Here are my observations from Sunday’s win over the Cowboys.
Jordan Hicks is a beast, and the Eagles will miss him. Every time I watch the Eagles he jumps off the screen. He’s just one of those players that is always around the ball, and all he does is make plays. Eagles’ fans have fallen in love with Hicks due to his stellar play on the field, but especially because of how well he plays against the Dallas Cowboys. His pick six in Sunday’s game could not have come at a better time. It was a huge, much needed momentum swing for the Eagles. Hicks was also responsible for injuring Tony Romo back in week two, thus devastating the Cowboy’s season. Chip Kelly took a lot of criticism for drafting Hicks in the third round of last year’s draft due to the fact that the Eagles already had three starting caliber inside linebackers (Kiko Alonso, Demeco Ryans, and Mychal Kendricks) in a defense that only required them to start two at a time. But in limited playing time, the rookie has definitely proven his worth. One could make the argument that Hicks has had the most impact for this Eagles defense this year, and he was also making a strong case for defensive Rookie of the Year. However, recent news came out that Hicks would be out for the rest of the season due to a ruptured left pectoralis major, which he suffered in the final minutes of this past Sunday’s game against Dallas. Although the Eagles still have Ryans, Kendricks, and Alonso, all three are injury prone.
This Eagles team has heart. I said it once, and I’ll say it again. These types of wins save seasons. The Eagles’ record was 3-4 heading into Sunday’s matchup against Dallas, and the Eagles were far from playing consistent football; the division was slowly getting out of reach. Having to go to Dallas, in a tough fought game, the Eagles came through when it mattered. Sam Bradford has shown to be one of the leaders on this team, making various pregame and halftime speeches, and I’ll give credit where credit is due; Bradford came through in the clutch. This Eagles team has shown resilience, and I believe this win will spark their season.
Jordan Matthews is back. After having a solid rookie campaign last season, Matthews was walking into some big expectations for this upcoming season, especially after the departure of the Eagles’ number one receiver, Jeremy Maclin. However, known for his “sure-hands”, Matthews has been anything but sure-handed; plagued by dropped passes through the first seven weeks of the season. While some of those drops have been very costly (i.e. the Atlanta game in week one). But after his performance on Sunday night, he’s back. Matthews had the 41-yard game-winning touchdown catch, along with a 34-yard catch with under three minutes in regulation. These plays will definitely help his confidence, and I expect to see a lot fewer dropped passes from Matthews for the rest of the season.
Eagles are running the ball a lot better. Another person or person(s) who have seemed to catch stride through this season is the Eagles’ offensive line. In fact, over the last four weeks the Eagles have rushed for at least 150 yards per game. Demarco Murray has finally gotten some holes to run through, and he’s taken advantage of it. When the birds played Dallas in week two, they had seven rushing yards. On Sunday night, they had 172.
Lane Johnson is going to be a stud left tackle. A big contributor to Sunday night’s win over Dallas was Johnson. Johnson usually plays right tackle, but since Jason Peters was out with an injury, Johnson had to switch to the left side. Johnson helped open up big lanes for the Eagles running backs, but, more importantly, he had an outstanding pass blocking performance. Johnson put on a clinic Sunday night, blocking one the league’s top pass rushers, Greg Hardy. Hardy was held to just one sack (which came off a stunt), and seemed to be pretty gassed over the course of the game. Let’s face it, Jason Peters’ days are numbered; it’s only a matter of time until Johnson finally gets the nod to play the coveted left tackle position. And when he does, he will be a stud for years to come.
Hardy is too much trouble than he is worth. Hardy has created much controversy on and off the field. Hardy was suspended for four games this season for an alleged domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend. Since being with the Cowboys, there’s no denying his production as a player on the field. He has been getting after quarterbacks every game, and has definitely been a game-changer for the Cowboys this season. However, Hardy has been a constant distraction throughout the season. He consistently makes poor decisions when addressing the media, almost showing no remorse for his past. Plus, he has been subject to fights on the sideline with coaches and teammates. Great players win games, but great teams with great chemistry win championships. Hardy seems to be too much trouble at this time in his career.
Dez Bryant is a freak of nature. While the most important play on Sunday night came from Jordan Matthews, the most jaw-dropping play came from Dez Bryant. Bryant had a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game where he literally outjumped a mob of players. Oh, and this is all while Bryant is still nursing a foot injury that he suffered earlier this season. And it wasn’t any normal injury,he had a jones’ fracture, which ended NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s season last year. Being able to still play is one thing, but being able to still outjump other players who have healthy feet is just unreal.
The Cowboys are not done! The Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 2-6 right now, having won zero games since Tony Romo got injured. However, somehow the Cowboys will make it interesting. They always do. The NFC East has come down to the wire in the past couple of seasons, all involving the Dallas Cowboys. This division can be won with a 9-7 record. The Cowboys play the Buccaneers on Sunday, which is a very winnable game, even without Romo. Romo is then projected to come back on Nov. 22. Then they play the Dolphins, Panthers, Redskins, Packers, Jets, Bills, and then the Redskins again. Quite frankly, all these games are very winnable besides the Panthers and Packers. But maybe the Cowboys are feeling revenge for Green Bay from last year’s playoffs; and they could pull that one out. Then they have one game for error, which could be that Carolina game. I am in no way, shape, or form a Cowboys fan, however, I am not counting them out just yet.
Eagles still need a slot corner. A big contributor to the Dallas Cowboys’ offense is slot receiver Cole Beasley. Beasley burned the Eagles’ secondary the entire game on Sunday night. The Eagles traded last year’s nickel corner, Brandon Boykin, this offseason to the Pittsburgh Steelers in hope that JaCorey Shepherd, Eagles’ 6th round draft pick, could fill the void. Unfortunately, Shepherd tore his ACL in practice before the start of the season. The Eagles were forced to adjust their defensive personal. The Eagles usually have Malcolm Jenkins play the slot position on defense, and they then put special teams’ stud Chris Maragos at the strong safety position to fill Jenkins’ normal spot. Maragos is primarily a special teamer and has little meaningful playing experience at safety. Walter Thurmond used to play slot corner before coming to the Eagles, and now he’s the starting free safety. I would rather have Thurmond play the slot because he has so much experience playing it at this level, then I would put rookie 2nd round pick, Eric Rowe, at the other safety position opposite of Jenkins. Rowe played Safety for three years at Utah before eventually moving to cornerback his senior season. Rowe has played little to none this season for the Eagles. Later in the Cowboys game though, the Eagles did have E.J. Biggers play the slot on defense. He didn’t do a bad job, possibly he is the answer. We’ll see next week.
Byron Maxwell is starting to get more comfortable. It was encouraging to see Byron Maxwell perform the way he did on Sunday night. Maxwell did not see the ball come his way much in the game, which is a good thing. He also had to battle through some controversial Pass Interference Calls, but overall fans should be encouraged from Maxwell’s performance. He’s not there yet, but he’s shown potential to develop into that expensive, shut-down corner that the Eagles paid for.
Ferris Berlin is a first-year student Accounting major and can be reached at FB845767@wcupa.edu.