Instant Observations: Eagles vs. Cowboys

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 20-10 loss to the Cowboys in the home opener:

*The biggest news is that Kiko Alonso exited with a left knee injury and did not return. We’re awaiting more information. The left knee is the one Alonso suffered the ACL tear in his rookie season. Mychal Kendricks left late in the half and also did not return. He grabbed his left hamstring after defending a route deep down field. Josh has more here.

*The Eagles offense was about as bad as it’s been under Chip Kelly. The ground game was non-existent, finishing with seven yards on 17 attempts (0.4 average).

*Murray had two yards on 13 carries. The former Cowboys back, who said this week that he was “emotionless” about facing his old team, was anything but. He threw his hands up in the air on the way off the field after Kelly elected to pass on 3rd-and-one on the opening series. Cameras later showed a frustrated Murray doing some serious barking to no one in particular as he paced the sideline. At one point in the second half, he walked with the Eagles head of security away from the rest of the team, animated the whole way, before rejoining the pack.  After a 22-yard cacth-and-run down the Dallas sideline, Murray gave kicker Dan Bailey a light push. Bailey held onto Murray’s arm, prompting Murray to fire the ball into Bailey’s chest. Bailey was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

*The pass protection was better than the run blocking, but the offense had little to show for it. Sam Bradford ended 23-of-37 for 224 yards with a late TD and two interceptions (65.6 rating). A good portion of the blame falls at the feet of the quarterback, but it wasn’t all him. The receivers seemed to have difficulty separating from Dallas defenders. Even when they did, the execution was sometimes lacking. Jordan Matthews dropped a pair of balls. Like in Atlanta,  there was communication issues.  Nelson Agholor led Eagles receivers at the half with one catch for eight yards.

*The defense held Tony Romo and the Dallas offense in check for the most part in the first half, limiting the Cowboys to a pair of field goals — including one at the end of the second quarter. Romo exited in the third quarter with a fracture of the left clavicle. Early reports suggest he could miss about eight weeks. The defense yielded a long touchdown pass to his replacement, Brandon Weeden, late in the game.

*There were opportunities for the Eagles to climb back in the game despite all the struggles, but the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. Trailing 13-0, the Eagles got all the way down to the Cowboys three-yard line before Bradford fired a pass intended for Zach Ertz right into Sean Lee‘s breadbasket for the interception. They were set up well in the fourth quarter and had a chance to cut into a 10-point deficit after Malcolm Jenkins scooped up a Gavin Escobar fumble and raced to the Dallas 30. On the next play, however, Jason Kelce‘s snap hit an unsuspecting Bradford right in the chest. The Cowboys recovered. Bradford threw a pick on the next series to seal the Eagles’ fate.

* DeMeco Ryans gave up a pair of big plays late in the first quarter but bounced back with a run stuff and pass deflection on the same series, forcing a field goal. Ryans and Jordan Hicks were the only two inside linebackers still standing in the second half. Hicks recorded a sack fumble on the play that Romo was hurt.

*’The Nobodies’ had a good showing overall. Bennie Logan made a couple nice plays, including one where he split defenders and blew up the Cowboys’ run play. Cedric Thornton beat tackle Doug Free cleanly in the second quarter and registered a sack. Thornton had just one sack all of last year, coming against these Cowboys back in December. Connor Barwin had a sack as well and had a strong first half overall.

* Like last week, Chris Maragos lined up as the deep safety when the Eagles went to nickel. Malcolm Jenkins frequently lined up over Witten in these circumstances.

*Special was a strength of this team last year. In this game, though, they gave up a third-quarter punt block that went for a touchdown.