ARLINGTON, Texas – You know the drill: 12 quick thoughts about the Cowboys' sixth-straight loss, as seen from my vantage point inside the AT&T Stadium press box.
Once I've looked into the game tape, I'll be back Monday and Tuesday with an in-depth look at the Cowboys' breakdowns in this loss to Philadelphia.
1) Would have never believed that Philadelphia would have been able to capture the edge in the running game the way they did. For a group that was shuffling offensive linemen around, especially at tackle, it was an impressive night for them. It was clear, especially in the second half, that they felt that regardless of who was lined up on the outside for the Cowboys, they were going to be able take DeMarco Murray and get him on the edge with no problem. If the Eagles had a play in this game that they could hang their hat on, no matter the down and distance, it was handing the ball to Murray underneath and letting him run to the collapsed edge. It worked for them all night.
2) Was shocked that Dallas was never able to put pressure on Sam Bradford in the middle of the pocket. The majority of their rush came wide and that allowed Bradford to come forward to make some clutch throws. I thought that maybe a second-half adjustment would be to try to attack him more with the inside blitz, but that idea might have gone out the window when Sean Lee went out of the game.
3) Give Cole Beasley a lot of credit for the way he battled safety Malcolm Jenkins in this game. Jenkins shut Beasley down in Philadelphia, but tonight was a different story. Beasley had Jenkins on his heels the entire night, even to the point where the Eagles coaches made an adjustment of taking Jenkins off him in coverage.
4) It's a shame that Darren McFadden's effort was wasted in this loss. In a game where I thought yards were going to be at a premium, he was outstanding. McFadden once again ran with toughness and a purpose. I was expecting a few more misdirection plays to take advantage of the Eagles' aggressive front seven, but there were more dirty runs than those that fooled the defense.
5) Bradford played better than I was willing to give him credit for. His accuracy in this game was far better than any other game I studied. The lack of steady pressure might have had something to do with that, but I have a feeling that this is the quarterback that Chip Kelly envisioned when he made the trade with the St. Louis Rams. This was a big game for Bradford, and after it was over, you could tell how emotional he was.
6)I am not exactly sure where these coaches are going to play David Irving in the future, but when he is on the field, he finds ways to make plays. For a player that has his length, I am not sure you can play him at the one-technique or nose tacke, so most likely he will continue to get work at the three-technique or under-tackle. What is so impressive about his game is the quickness he is able to play with. All night he was playing on the Eagles' side of the line of scrimmage -- the only Dallas lineman who was able to do that.
7) I am interested in studying the tape and seeing the type of job this Cowboys offensive line did on Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox, who only combined on five tackles. I came into this game really worrying about the problems they could have caused, especially in the running game. Promise to have a story about that in my Scout's Eye.
8)I honestly didn't expect Lucky Whitehead to be the starter at punt returner today after what I heard happened in practice on Friday. Whitehead had a fumble during practice and there were some questions that they might continue to roll with Beasley. Then Whitehead made a poor decision and fielded a punt inside his own 5-yard line that could have easily made it into the end zone. But we also saw what you can potentially get with Whitehead on that kickoff return – an explosive home run hitter. I am wondering if we will now see him handling both duties in the coming weeks?
9) I am starting to wonder if we will ever see the Rolando McClain that was such a force on this defense last season. I am really starting to have my doubts as we hit the halfway point of this season. The Eagles struggled all season with linebackers that were aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage, which is why I thought that McClain and Sean Lee were due to have big games. For McClain to end up with only three tackles against this offense was very disappointing. They needed a big game from him, but once again, it just didn't happen. [embeddedad0]
10) I was worried that Matt Cassel's injured knee was going to give him problems in this game. He wore a knee brace all week and I thought that his mobility would likely be compromised. Cassel's mobility was fine and he was able to move around the pocket well, even making the incredible throw to Dez Bryant rolling to his left. In his previous start I was critical of the way he played, but instead of being part of the problem, he actually gave this team a chance to win.
11) If you would have asked me in the preseason which defensive rookie on this team would have had a bigger impact between Byron Jones and Randy Gregory, I would have said Gregory without thinking about it. Gregory did miss time with the high ankle sprain, but it's Jones who has stolen the show. I believe that you can make an argument that Jones is the best defensive player of the starting group.
12)Did it feel like the Eagles were 3-of-13 on third downs? I was just asking for one stop in my Gut Feeling …