Wake-Up Call: Will Eagles See a Different Romo?


NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo did not play a clean game on Thanksgiving as the Eagles handed the Cowboys a 33-10 loss.

He went 18-for-29 for 199 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. But most notably, he went down on a couple occasions when pressure was near, something that has been rare for him throughout his career.

“Oh, we’ll see a different offense,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “We’ll see a healthier Tony Romo. We’ll see a healthier team, a team that’s got plenty of time to prepare for us, including a game with us under our belt. But we also have that time. It will be a little different. Tony Romo will look completely different against us than he did against Chicago. He looked a lot healthier in Chicago, and now 10 more days of recovery, I think we are going to get more of the healthy Tony Romo.”

Maybe Davis just wanted to make it clear to his players that taking the Cowboys lightly would be a mistake. Maybe he wanted to drive home the message that the performance in the first game will have no impact on this one.

Or  perhaps he was saying how he really felt.

“His movement, really,” Davis said, when asked what was different. “You saw in our game the movement of him going down right away. And he has great escape ability. You didn’t see that in our game. You just saw him protecting himself a little bit, and then in Chicago you didn’t. You saw, alright, here we go, let’s run around, let’s extend the down, let’s make some plays. And I think we’ll see the Tony Romo that we’ve always seen.”

Here are a couple plays Davis is referring to.

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On this one, it appeared the snap was early, and it was a busted play, so going down was a smart move.

But on this one in the red zone, Romo had some room to move around. Instead, he went down, and Casey Matthews was rewarded with the sack.

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“I’ve never seen him take a fall like he did twice in the first game,” said Connor Barwin. “But who knows if he’ll do that this week or not?”

Other Eagles, like Fletcher Cox, seemed to take issue with the idea that Romo wasn’t at full strength.

“When you got the heat coming, you’ll lay down too,” said Cox. “Not a lot of quarterbacks just want to take a lot of hits. It kind of messes with them. When you hit a quarterback early in the game, later in the game he’s looking for the pass-rush. If they feel any kind of pressure, some might lay down. Some might try to scramble out.

“He has 10 days off. He’s got his feet under him, kind of healed up a little bit. But we’re gonna hit him.”

After last week’s win against the Bears, Romo made it quite clear that he didn’t feel right in the first matchup. Speaking to Philadelphia reporters during a conference call Wednesday, he was a little bit tamer.

“Just going through the normal routine this week and having a few days off, that’s always a big benefit,” he said. “I think it’ll help our football team as a whole, having the ability to come out and put your best foot forward. I’m anxious to see our team go play.

“I’m not gonna get into the details. I just didn’t play as well as I wanted to. I’m excited about playing in this game and having an opportunity to be better.”

Romo’s numbers on the season are excellent. He’s completing 69.1 percent of his passes and averaging 8.35 YPA. Romo has thrown 25 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His 108.8 passer rating is second to only Aaron Rodgers.

Asked how the extra rest will affect Romo, Chip Kelly said sarcastically: “We’re preparing for speed option. A lot of quarterback power runs now that he has the extra days to go.”

The Cowboys’ best chance to beat the Eagles Sunday will be by throwing the football with Romo. Come Monday morning, we’ll have a better sense of how much the short week affected him the first time around.

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at how the Seahawks were able to shut down the Eagles’ offense on Sunday.

Notes on Dallas prep, Nick Foles and a new safety from T-Mac.

McManus analyzes Mark Sanchez and the deep ball.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News gives his Eagles-Cowboys scouting report with the game’s key matchups:

Eagles DE Fletcher Cox v. Cowboys C Travis Frederick. Cox, who often lines up over center, was a dominant force last week v. Seattle. Advantage: Eagles

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy v. Cowboys MLB Rolando McClain. McCoy rushed for a season-high 159 yards in the first game against the Cowboys. Advantage: Eagles

Eagles CBs Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher v. Cowboys WRs Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Bryant and Williams have combined for 16 TD catches. Eagles have given up 24 TD passes, the fourth most in the league. Advantage: Cowboys

The Eagles’ support of Riley Cooper is mystifying, writes Mike Sielski of the Inquirer:

But there’s more to the relationship that just Cooper’s work ethic. The Eagles – Kelly, in particular – went to great lengths to keep Cooper a viable and important player for them after it was revealed he used a racial slur during a Kenny Chesney concert last year.

Once the Eagles lost Maclin for the entire 2013 season to a knee injury, Cooper immediately became their second-best wide receiver, behind DeSean Jackson. They needed him, and Kelly expended a lot of human capital to ensure that the players would welcome Cooper back and play alongside him without incident, and that Cooper could handle, psychologically and emotionally, the complex and combustible situation he’d created.

COMING UP

We’ll talk to Kelly and the players once again.