Eagles’ Plan vs. Dallas: Make Dak Prescott Beat Us
The Eagles’ defensive game plan against the Cowboys is relatively simple: Stop the run and make rookie quarterback Dak Prescott beat them.
“He’s got a great run game to help him out. Nothing has really been heavily on his shoulders, so we haven’t gotten the full rookie quarterback out of him,” Leodis McKelvin said. “What every quarterback would love to have is a run game, and that’s what he has. That’s what keeps him the player he is.
“The goal is to stop the run. That’s what got everything going, and that’s what will keep things going.”
The Cowboys are ranked in the top-5 in the NFL in both rushing yards (967) and yards per carry (4.8), while being tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (11). Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is first in the NFL in yards (703), sixth in yards per carry (5.1) and tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns (five).
According to Malcolm Jenkins, Dallas’ run game is similar to Washington’s, which gave the Eagles a lot of trouble in their Week 5 loss. Philadelphia allowed 33 carries for 230 yards (7.0 yards per rush) and one touchdown in that 27-20 defeat.
“If they get you cut out of a gap, that ball is downhill immediately, so you don’t have time to make up for that mistake. That was one of the things that gave us trouble in Washington is somebody gets cut out of a gap and then we get gashed,” Jenkins said. “They run a lot of crack toss, as well. They don’t just line up in the formation that tells you crack toss. They’ll motion to it and do anything to disguise it and all of a sudden the ball is on the edge. We’re going to have to be very disciplined, especially when you talk about our run fits.”
Prescott, meanwhile, has been very efficient as he’s quarterbacked the Cowboys atop the NFC East with a 5-1 record. He’s fifth in the NFL in passer rating (103.9), fifth in yards per attempt (8.17) and owns a 7-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz noted how the Cowboys’ production in the run game and the talent around Prescott in the pass game has “a lot to do” with the quarterback’s early success.
“They’ve given the quarterback a ton of time,” Schwartz said. “A lot has been made of the few amount of turnovers — a lot of that can be attributed to the offensive line because he hasn’t had to throw a ball before he wanted to, or got hit when he was throwing — actually the one [interception] he has, he was hit when he was throwing. But it’s been very rare that he’s been hit.”