Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*
IRVING, Texas - The word "blueprint" has resurfaced again.
Every time a team the Cowboys are about face gets beat, we start talking about now having the blueprint to repeat the accomplishment.
With the Cowboys getting ready for another NFC East showdown against the Eagles Sunday in Philadelphia, all I heard Monday morning was how the Cowboys need to copy the same plan Seattle used to upend their division rivals.
Sorry guys, not going to happen.
Not saying the Cowboys won't beat Philly in this rematch. In fact, I will more than likely pick Dallas to win this game. Hard to say what my gut feeling will be in five days, but I do think the Cowboys can and will win the second time around.
But it won't be the same way Seattle got it done.
It's my opinion that the most underrated aspect of winning football games – on any level – is the way teams are matched up against each other.
Too often we hear people say "*well, they beat this team by 20 and we beat them by 20 so we should really blow this team out." *
Just doesn't work out that way. It's all about the matchup and how teams can play off the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent.
Seattle beat up the Eagles with a tenacious defense that looks every bit as dangerous as how they ended the season last year. Their cornerbacks were flying all over the field and the linebackers covered the Eagles sideline to sideline. And of course, that pass rush is pretty consistent.
We've seen this Cowboys team for 13 games now and we know that defense isn't the strength. We saw them play the Eagles just 10 days ago and they got exposed early.
Just doing it the way Seattle did it is absolutely too simple-minded. The Cowboys aren't built that way. Their linebackers don't cover the same ground as the Seahawks. The pass rush doesn't collapse the pocket consistently like Seattle. And let's be honest, the secondary doesn't make as many plays on the ball.
The Cowboys can win this game, but they'll have to win it their way. And their way means the offensive line has to play 20 times better than it did two Thursdays ago. They've got to be the ones pushing people around up front.
They've got to get DeMarco Murray into the second level of the defense where he can get big chunks of yards. They've got to keep the pocket clean enough – and long enough – for Tony Romo to exploit that secondary. Dez has to be Dez-like and that wasn't the case on Thanksgiving.
As for Romo, I do think 10 days between games as opposed to four, will be a huge benefit this time around.
Now, if anything can come out of the Eagles' loss to Seattle, maybe it's a little bit psychological. Maybe the fact that they know they can get beat at home – something that hadn't happened all year until Sunday – will creep into their minds. I actually doubt it because they could just as easily revert back to the confidence of whipping these same Cowboys less than two weeks ago.
But that's just the point. For the Cowboys to win this game, they can't be the same team that showed up. That's probably the most obvious statement of all time, but it's true. The Cowboys have to be the team that has gotten them to 9-4, and not the Seattle team that has the exact same record.