If you ask old school scouts what is required to field a championship contender, they will quickly tell you that it takes eight to twelve blue-chip players to compete for a title. This premise has been the standard for general managers around the league and I rely on it to help me identify the players to watch on game day.
With that in mind, let's identify the players to watch on the Cowboys' next opponent. Here's a quick report on the current blue-chip players for the Eagles, who are missing quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is in the running for NFL MVP.
Gardner Minshew: The scrappy gunslinger will get his first start of the season against the Cowboys. As a quick-rhythm passer with a streaky game, Minshew can stringing together completions when he is on his game.
Miles Sanders, RB: The shifty runner has become the centerpiece of a running game that has been unstoppable to this point. With the Eagles utilizing a variety of misdirection, read-options and traditional powers to bludgeon opponents between the tackles, the four-year pro has quietly posted a 1,000-yard season with little fanfare.
AJ Brown, WR: The Pro Bowl wideout is a monster on the perimeter as a big-bodied pass catcher with sticky hands and outstanding hand-eye coordinator. Brown excels at winning 50-50 balls but is at his best running the ball after the catch. As a 6-foot-1, a 225-pound playmaker with a hard-nosed running style, the veteran turns short passes into big gains as a dangerous open-field runner. Given his 1,200-plus receiving yards and ten scores, the Cowboys must have the plan to neutralize the Eagles' No.1 playmaker.
DeVonta Smith, WR: The slender pass catcher has settled in as the Eagles' co-WR1 on the perimeter. Smith's spectacular route-running and exceptional ball skills have made him a nightmare to defend as a young receiver. Whether he is running vertical routes on the backside of the formation or crossing the field on an underneath route, Smith's speed, athleticism, and skill make him a scoring threat from anywhere on the field.
Dallas Goedert, TE: The sticky-fingered pass catcher with the outstanding route-running ability and run-after-catch skills could return to the lineup this week. As a dependable "chain mover" with the capacity to find the voids over the middle of the field, the Eagles' TE1 will punish opponents when they attempt to double AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith on the outside.
Lane Johnson, OT: The five-star offensive tackle is still playing at a high level after a decade in the league. Johnson's athleticism, balance, and body control enable him to snuff out explosive pass rushers on the edges. With the Eagles looking to run and throw on the edges, the veteran is a big part of the team's offensive success.
Fletcher Cox, DT: The veteran defender is no longer a premier player but still flashes disruptive skills as a key member of a dominant frontline. Cox's strength, power and skills enable him to produce enough "splash" plays to keep opposing offenses behind the chains. With 6.0 sacks and a forced fumble, the former Pro Bowler still commands attention at the point of attack.
Brandon Graham, DE: The pass-rushing specialist is a crafty sack master with a knack for getting to the quarterback. As a non-stop pursuer with a relentless motor, Graham wears down blockers and racks up sacks on effort and hustle. The ageless wonder has quietly totaled 8.5 sacks as part of a frontline that dominates the trenches.
Josh Sweat, DE: The energetic defender has emerged as one of the most disruptive players on the Eagles' defense. Sweat has wreaked havoc on opponents with his speed, quickness, and burst from the edges as a run-and-pass defender. With 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss, the fifth-year pro can wreck the Cowboys' offensive game plan single-handedly.
Haason Reddick, OLB: The Eagles' prized free agent has been as good as advertised as a dynamic pass rusher. Reddick's speed, quickness, and burst create problems for slow-footed blockers on the edges. The veteran leads the team with 12.0 sacks and forced fumbles (4) as the Eagles' No.1 pass rusher off the edge.
Darius Slay, CB: The Eagles' CB1 is playing like the best cover corner in football. Slay has displayed outstanding instincts and cover skills in his one-on-one battles with some of the top receivers in football. Given that the veteran has held his own in a role that requires exceptional skill, instincts, and confidence, Slay warrants consideration as the NFL's CB1.
James Bradberry, CB: The big-bodied cover corner has blossomed in the Eagles' scheme. He is a solid CB2 with the ball skills and tackling ability to hold his own on the backside of the formation.