All season fans have seen the strong play of the Dallas Cowboys‘ defense and how they have continued to play better and better every game. They face their biggest test of the season as they look to contain Jalen Hurts and the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.
Every fan knows by now how good the defense for the Dallas Cowboys is through five games of the 2022 season. The Cowboys are seventh in the league in total yards allowed per game (311.4), eighth in passing yards per game (193.8), second in sacks (20), and third in points per game (14.4). While the numbers against the run have been average at best, the work done against the pass is one of the best in the NFL.
What has made this season work? The play of Micah Parsons who is tied for the league lead in sacks with six. Other defensive linemen like DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong have made the defensive line the strength of the defense. The Cowboys’ line doesn’t give quarterbacks enough time to make a throw and forces them into a bad decision.
Anthony Barr has been a nice addition to the team as he has been a solid tackler and good in pass coverage. Leighton Vander Esch has played extremely well in the last two games as he was big in Sunday’s win against the Los Angeles Rams against the run.
Trevon Diggs made some big plays in the secondary, but Donovan Wilson’s hard-hitting and sure tackling skills have highlighted him as the top guy in the secondary. Anthony Brown had one of his best games of the season against the Rams as he was the top corner in coverage.
Strengths Of Eagles’ Offense
The top player the Cowboys must focus on is Jalen Hurts. His ability to make plays with his legs and use his mobility makes him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s the only player in NFL history to average 250 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game through the first five weeks of the season. To top it off, Hurts is completing 68% of his passes so his newfound accuracy makes him that much more dangerous.
Philadelphia is one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL led by Miles Sanders. Through five games, Sanders is top five in the NFL in rushing yards with 414. Their other main running back, Kenneth Gainwell, is a threat in the passing game as the Eagles will look to run short, screen passes to their backs.
AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are deadly due at receiver. Brown has the dangerous combination of size and speed that has made him one of the best receivers in the NFL. Smith has a good rapport with Hurts and has shown off his speed as well. Dallas Goedert is also among one of the best tight ends in the league as his size and unusual athleticism make him hard to cover for linebackers and safeties.
The offensive line for the Eagles struggled in their opening game against the Detroit Lions as Hurts was pressured for most of the game. Since then, led by veteran center Jason Kelce, the offensive line has put it all together and has become one of the best offensive lines in the league.
How The Dallas Cowboys Can Stop Philly
Pressure, pressure, and pressure from the defensive line. What makes the Cowboys’ defense so great is how physical the defensive line is and their ability to bully offensive lines. Guys like Parson, Armstrong, Lawrence, Neville Gallimore, and Trysten Hill have dominated lines whether it’s pressuring the quarterback or shutting down the run.
Hurts is the Eagles’ most lethal weapon on their offense so either Vander Esch or Barr needs to have a quarterback spy on Hurts the whole game. They need to be following his every movement so he doesn’t beat them running the football when moving out of the pocket. Containing Hurts in the pocket forces him to beat the Cowboys with his accuracy which could give Parsons and Lawrence time to sack him.
The Cowboys are middle of the pack in rush defense and Philadelphia is top five in the league in running the ball. That once again puts some responsibility on Vander Esch and Barr to stop the run. If they can step up as well as have the interior defensive line plug up the lines, that will give the Cowboys a better chance of pulling off the upset on the road.