Scout's Notebook: Getting Beasley Involved; Eagles LB Graham Can Create Havoc

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will try to upend the Eagles for the second time in three games. While the Eagles got the best of Dallas in a 33-10 win on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys once again get a shot to take first place in the NFC East with both teams now tied at 9-4.

  • If you asked me what adjustment this Cowboys offense would make facing this Eagles defense I would have to say that they would get in more "11" personnel spreading them out and giving them a taste of their own medicine. After the success that we saw from Cole Beasley against the Bears there is no doubt in my mind that these coaches want to get him more involved with Bryant, Williams and Witten. Attacking this Eagles secondary is not a bad option at all.
  • This might sound really simple but if you take away the Eagles crossing routes on 3rd downs you have a really good shot of handling a big part of what they do offensively. This is exactly what Byron Maxwell of the Seahawks was able to out of the slot against Jordan Matthews when he tried to run underneath. Maxwell never allowed Matthews to get up the field on him and was in perfect position to deny the ball when Mark Sanchez tried to go inside with it. When Matthews did catch the ball Maxwell was right on top of him to make the tackle short of the sticks. The Cowboys need Orlando Scandrick to have a similar type of game.
  • All season we have seen this Cowboys defensive line rotate in and out of games. I have a feeling that we will see these linebackers do the same thing. With Rolando McClain dealing with various aliments but still trying to play look for Anthony Hitchens, Bruce Carter along with Kyle Wilber to all get extensive playing time. The plan will be to attempt to keep McClain as fresh as possible throughout the game.
  • I know this is going to sound strange but the Josh Brent calf injury for this game is not a bad thing for this defense. Brent was fine against the Bears who liked to run the ball straight ahead with Matt Forte. This Eagles rushing attack is more about playing sideways and you need players that can get down the line and also penetrate in the backfield to make a stop. Terrell McClain is a much better option to be that type of player so with Brent most likely out that means that McClain will be backing up Nick Hayden and taking snaps at the nose tackle spot.

There is no question on the Philadelphia defense that you have to account for Connor Barwin and where he is lined up in the scheme. Fletcher Cox also falls in the same category but a guy that worries me as well is linebacker Brandon Graham. What is interesting about Graham is that he has always had pass rushing ability going all the way back to his college days with the Michigan Wolverines.  To his credit he has transitioned from a hand on the ground guy to playing on his feet. Where the Cowboys have to be careful is that when Graham rushes if he is not picked up by Tyron Smith or Doug Free that he is going to be on DeMarco Murray or one of the other running backs. He physically is a big, powerful man that still has that defensive linemen type of size. As good as Murray is on his blitz pickup assignments and techniques having to block a rusher of Graham's size will no easy task. I will be interested to see how Bill Callahan and Gary Brown decide they want to handle this matchup.

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