IRVING, Texas – With the short week of preparation for this Thanksgiving Day game, I spent a decent chunk of my weekend looking at Philadelphia before the Giants game.
The results seem to follow a similar trend to what we've been on this season. Of course you're all familiar with LeSean McCoy and what he brings to the Eagles offense – although you'd probably call 2014 a down year by his standards.
Before I get to McCoy and my Under the Radar Eagle, though, I want to focus on a guy who has been dangerous against Dallas throughout his career – but not in Chip Kelly's scheme so far.
Weapon: Jeremy Maclin, WR
Chip Kelly is in his second season as head coach of the Eagles, but this is the first season that Jeremy Maclin has played in his scheme after sitting out 2013 with a torn ACL.
If there is a player that is an ideal fit for how Kelly likes to move the ball, it is Maclin. Blessed with solid hands along with rare body control and balance, he has thrived in Kelly's up tempo attack -- which calls for receivers to line up in several spots along the formation and read coverage on the run, which Maclin has mastered.
His initial quickness and acceleration make him difficult to cover once he comes off the ball. The knee injury has not slowed him down one bit because you can see that stop-start ability with explosiveness. When he catches the ball, he is quickly up the field. He's not one of those receivers who has problems with contact. He has shown the courage to take his route inside and secure the ball in a crowd – I have seen him take some wicked shots over the years and bounce right up.
Maclin is a smooth, compact route runner that wastes little movement with his mechanics. You name the route and he will execute it easily. He is a home run hitter in every sense of the word for the Eagles and will command this Cowboys secondary's full attention.
Nemesis: LeSean McCoy, RB
LeSean McCoy has had his share of struggles this season. If you check his numbers, his yards per carry average is currently at a career low and he hasn't been as productive when it comes to those chunk carries that he has been known for in the past.
Where McCoy's numbers have also dipped is as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Even on the game tape that I have studied, he is not making those plays up the sidelines on the wheel routes or catching a screen pass and taking it 65 yards for a score. If you listen to information coming out of Philadelphia, there is no question that he's feeling some frustration about the direction this offense is going and his role in it.
What is interesting about McCoy's concerns is that he is in the top five in the league when it comes to the number of rushing attempts he has had, so there is clearly more there. In my opinion his offensive line has not nearly done the job of creating space for him as they have in the past. If you look at McCoy's history against the Cowboys, he has averaged just a little over 17 carries a game for a 5.1 yard average.
For as bad as things might appear for McCoy and his situation his skill level has not changed. He still has that initial quickness and acceleration. There is lateral quickness and the creativity to make defenders miss. He has always been difficult to defend in space with the ball in his hands. I have always felt that one of his great strengths was his vision and how he was able to use it as he worked his way through traffic. Make no mistake about this: LeSean McCoy is still a capable running back that can cause problems for any defensive scheme.
Under Radar: Bennie Logan, NT
When you talk about players that played their college football at LSU, most Dallas fans roll their eyes and turn the other direction. I said during the 2013 NFL Draft that Bennie Logan was a different player from the ones that have come before him, and I believe he is.
This kid plays with explosive power and has brute strength to hold the point of attack. He can be a difficult player to move one-on-one and will be a load for Travis Frederick to handle -- even with his own power and technique. For a man his size, he runs well and is extremely active.
It's rare that you see Logan stuck along the line when the ball goes to the outside. He can make plays on the outside and has always been a good technique player -- and this goes back to his days in college. He has upper body power and shock to his game. He'll fire his hands inside to control the blocker or go with a quick arm-over move to work free.
Logan is a square player that makes it difficult for blockers to turn along the line of scrimmage due to his power and balance. He shows good run instincts when locating the ball. I thought he would have been a perfect nose tackle or one-technique in this current Cowboys scheme. The team thought enough of him to bring him to Valley Ranch for a pre-draft visit, and in studying his work while with the Eagles, it is very clear why they thought that way.