Last season, the Cowboys not only took apart the Eagles players on the field, but their coaches took the Philly coaches to the cleaners. Their schemes were superior to what the Eagles were doing and they did it to them two weeks in a row.
You can believe that Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg and Sean McDermott have been working all off season thinking of ways to pay the Cowboys back for the two beat downs at the end of the season. Players take defeats personally and so do coaches. As much as everybody wants to blame those losses solely on the players, the Eagles entire staff was beaten in each and every way.
They won’t come out and say it, but Reid and Mornhinweg are especially proud of their ability to put together a game plan. You can believe that they had to play the humble role at the league meetings and coaches get togethers at the Senior Bowl, draft combine in Indianapolis.
This was deserved after they had their proverbial “clocks cleaned” by Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett last year because Phillips and Garrett had been totally embarrassed by the beat down they had experienced the year before in the last regular season game. Let me assure you that these competitions get very personal, although these coaches other than the Ryans (Buddy and his son Rex) would never say it publicly.
Reid would never put all his cards on the table publicly, but you can believe in those coaches meetings he has challenged his staff. Players getting motivated by watching themselves getting their butt kicked on tape and so do coaches.
“You learn from every game and they got us last year”, Reid said earlier this week. “That’s also the obvious and so you learn from each game. Again, you put you game plan together to play this football team and you focus in on that and concentrate on that and then you worry about all the other stuff.”
Mornhinweg always says things are “cyclic”. We hope the Birds can’t put a beat down on the Cowboys in much the same way, Dallas put the beat down on the Eagles a year ago.
I learned after last year’s game that one of the main problems was Nick Cole’s inability to make the proper adjustments at the center position. Say what you will about Phillips as a head coach, he has always been regarded as an outstanding defensive coordinator. His game plan had people coming free throughout both of those last two games.
“I’m doing a little bit better job there”, Mornhinweg said yesterday. “We’ve had success in past years against them, and then they got us pretty good. They played well those games, and we didn’t play very well. We had, if you remember, [G/C] Nick [Cole], it was, I believe, his second game at center. We had some problems there. Not with Nick. Nick played pretty well, but we were just off a little bit. Crowd noise, basically a dome, we were just off a little bit. So hopefully we can do a little bit better that way.”
You can see that Mornhinweg doesn’t want to blame it all directly on Cole, but he had to mention his name. It wasn’t Cole’s inability to block his man that was the problem, he just couldn’t make the adjustments which involve sliding the line one way or the other for the blitz.
Notice that Cole hasn’t been the starting center, again. That decision to not put him in there as the starter at center again was made a year ago.
The main problem which the Cowboys present concerns two defensive pass rushers, who can beat a one-on-one block. One of them is inside in defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and the other is outside in outside linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware. The fact that they’re both inside and outside presents the problem. You can take care of one with little problem, but taking care of both is going take quite a job of game planning.
“Ratliff is a special player”, Mornhinweg said. “They’ve got several… you can keep going. But Ratliff chews people up. He’s a special player.”
Phillips forced the Eagles to single block them a year ago, we’ll see what happens this year. Nobody will say it, but this one is personal. If the Birds were to get ahead, don’t expect them to take their feet off the gas.