Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Sketching out a Game Plan for Dallas

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 04:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys yells to the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 4, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have won only once since Sept. 23. But the good news is that their Week 10 opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, hasn't won at all since Sept. 30. That's why, when the two sliding, desperate division rivals get together Sunday in Philly, the Cowboys are actually going to be the Las Vegas favorite. 

They can deliver on those odds if they follow my suggested game plan.

Don't ditch the run just yet

Ordinarily, I'd suggest that the Cowboys become a run-oriented offense against an Eagles defense that has surrendered over 120 rushing yards in each of the last four games. Mychal Kendricks has hit a rookie wall, and the pass rush looks as though it's going to have to sacrifice up front in order to get more pressure. 

The problem is that Dallas' running game has done nothing of late. DeMarco Murray and Phil Costa are both likely out again, and Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar haven't been able to revive the ground game. 

But I still don't think the Cowboys can afford to panic and get away from the run. I'd like to see them work Lance Dunbar in more as they look to maintain balance against a defense that is still quite fierce up front. Sure, they lack big sack numbers, but this Philly pass rush is still ranked third in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. It brought pressure 12 times Monday night in New Orleans.

PFF also reports that Tony Romo's been the seventh-least accurate quarterback in the league when under pressure this season. And his receivers haven't exactly been reliable this year. With that mind, and against two very talented cornerbacks, the 'Boys don't want to become one-dimensional in Philly.

Let DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher bring it

Defensively, the Cowboys might be tempted to dial it up early and often against an offensive line that's in disaster mode. But the reality is that the 'Boys should have the talent up front to get to a slow-to-react Michael Vick regardless of how many extra rushers they send. 

And so they shouldn't send extra rushers. With Sean Lee long gone for the season and Dan Connor likely to be out again, the run defense can't afford to lose men. Anthony Spencer should hold back often to help Bruce Carter and Ernie Sims, and they should keep the safeties home to help inconsistent cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne and/or prey on a desperate Vick.

The key for the Eagles will be to get the running game going, and the key for the Cowboys will be to make them prove that they can be that disciplined by ensuring that Vick doesn't hit on anything deep and letting the pass rush do its thing.