Match-Up Focus: Eagles vs Cowboys

PREVIOUS GAME RESULTS

2015 WEEK 9 – PHI 33 DAL 27

2015 WEEK 2 – DAL 20 PHI 10

2014 WEEK 15 – DAL 38 PHI 27

Player to Watch – Josh Huff

Huff has been a nice surprise this year in his limited role thus far.  He’s been a game changer on special teams and with the struggles the Eagles WR’s are having stretching the field he might see some increased playing time.  He can make plays with the ball in his hands.  Through 6 games this year Huff grades out at 68.0 per PFF.com.  He’s seen 113 total snaps with a receiving grade 65.9.  This is the type of game where he can be a factor.  Dallas has struggled in the defensive backfield at times year.  Look for the Eagles to get Huff into space where he can really use his agility.  Huff is a running back in a receivers body.  So far the coaching staff has used Huff during gadget plays with jet sweeps and bubble screens.  I think it’s time to open it up a bit and see what he can do.  Let’s be honest, can it get much worse than Agholor?

Player to Watch – Trey Burton

Zach Ertz is incredibly frustrating.  We talked about this on the latest edition of the Eagles Focus Podcast.  I’m getting tired of saying “when will Ertz break out.”  A game doesn’t go by where Ertz doesn’t have a crucial drop somewhere in the game.  See the Redskins game for a perfect example.  Enter Trey Burton.  I want to see more of Burton.  I’m not saying Ertz is awful but he’s just too inconsistent at this point in his career.  Burton is a match up nightmare.  He really flourished during the Bears game.  The Eagles need to have all hands on deck.  Dallas is a solid team so I would do anything I could to get them off balance.  Look for 2 and 3 TE sets a lot during this game.  The Eagles haven’t been able to take advantage of their TE sets this year.  Perhaps this is the game.  Per PFF.com Burton has seen a total of only 94 snaps.  He has 61 pass and 31 running opportunities.  He has an overall grade of 58.9 and a receiving grade of 56.1.

Match-Up to Watch – Dorial Green-Beckham vs Morris Claiborne

If there was ever a game for DGB to break out and put his mark on the season it’s this game.  Especially against a corner who has been known to give up big plays.  This year however Claiborne has been very solid and overall has played well.  We’ve seen flashes from DGB but haven’t quite seen the whole package or a total game yet.  DGB has the size and strength matchup over almost any corner in the league.  He needs to assert himself Sunday night.  DGB has caught 13 balls for 139 yards with 1 TD coming last week.  Pretty unimpressive but the talent is there.  Is the attitude?  Time will tell.  Per PFF.com Claiborne slides in at 82.3 putting him 16 overall in CB this season.  DGB has graded out at 69.6 leaving him 52nd in the league.  The winner of this match-up will go along a way in decide the outcome of this game.  If the Eagles can get a shot or 2 downfield I like their chances.  On game tape Claiborne can be susceptible to the double move.  This can help the Eagles get vertical.

Player to Watch – Cole Beasley

Beasley has developed into one of the better slot receivers in the game despite the quarterback change in Dallas. Dak Prescott has leaned on Beasley through the first six games making him the Cowboys leading receiver with 33 receptions and three touchdowns. The return of Dez Bryant this week will take even more attention away from Beasley in the slot who thrives on option routes. Eagles nickel corner, Ron Brooks, was lost for the season against the Vikings after he suffered a torn quad. In his place safety Malcolm Jenkins may be called upon to pick up the nickel corner duties due to the lack of corner depth. Jenkins had a fantastic game against Minnesota as Pro Football Focus graded him the best safety of Week 7. He was around the line of scrimmage all game as Jim Schwartz decided to go away from simply rushing four. The Eagles played in Dallas last season on Sunday night around the same time of a year. Jenkins and Beasley faced off in the slot in that night with Beasley surprisingly having a huge night. He recorded 9 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, his best game of the season by far. This was the game where Jenkins apparently was playing through a concussion, and managed to hide it from the training staff. Who really knows how much that impacted his play that night, but you can’t argue that he struggled to stay with Beasley. The circumstances are obviously much different now than they were last year, but if Jenkins happens to line up on Beasley again it will certainly be a matchup to watch.

Player to Watch – Nigel Bradham

Bradham has been a pleasant surprise and definite upgrade to the linebacker position despite his off the field escapades in Miami. He’s arguably the best linebacker in coverage the Eagles have had since the days of Carlos Emmons in the early 2000’s. This week Bradham is set to face a future Hall of Fame tight end in the Cowboys Jason Witten. Witten has given the Eagles defense fits during his career, and continues to baffle me how hardly any linebacker can cover him one on one. That’s exactly what Bradham will look to do this weekend in Dallas as the Eagles banged up secondary will be focusing on the wide receivers. Pro Football Focus has Bradham ranked as the 19th best linebacker in coverage. Interestingly enough Jordan Hicks is graded as the second best coverage linebacker in the league behind Jerell Freeman of the Bears. Witten has not skipped a beat during his 14th season in the league even if Tony Romo is no longer the quarterback. He’s caught 28 balls for 274 yards on the season and is still in search of his first touchdown, hopefully it stays that way. PFF has Witten graded as the number 27 tight end, but Eagles fans recognize the importance he carries to the Dallas offense.

Matchup to Watch: Brandon Graham vs. Doug Free

Words cannot describe the importance Brandon Graham has had to the Eagles defense this season, and the impact of his play through six games. PFF has Graham graded right behind Von Miller who holds the top spot in terms of edge defenders. Fletcher Cox won the player of the month award, but you could argue Graham deserved the award just as much. He’s been fantastic coming off the edge to disrupt opposing quarterbacks, and also has been stout in the run game. Doug Free is clearly the weak link of the Cowboys dominant offensive line. Brian Baldinger has made a point of singling out Free while discussing the Cowboys o-line on 97.5 The Fanatic. Free is graded as the 46th best tackle according to PFF which is some 30 plus spots lower than left tackle Tyron Smith. It’s obvious defenses look to attack Free’s side since Smith is possibly the best tackle in football. Graham terrorized the Vikings last week especially rushing Sam Bradford and forcing an interception. It would be wise for Jim Schwartz to line up Graham opposite Free to create a matchup advantage.

Source – www.profootballfocus.com

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