Paul Domowitch provides what he will be keeping his eyes on during Monday night's game between the Eagles and Dallas:
1. The Heat on Romo: Eagles didn’t get near Tony Romo in first ’07 meeting, and the Cowboys’ QB completed 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards and three TDs in a double-digit win. They sacked him four times in December and he was just 13-for-36 with three interceptions. They cannot afford to give him the kind of time to throw he had in Week 1 vs. Cleveland.
2. Containing Witten: Forget Terrell Owens. Jason Witten is the guy the Eagles really need to contain. The 6-5, 265-pound tight end is a load who has good speed and terrific hands. He had 11 catches for 190 yards in the two games vs. Eagles last season. Best way to stop him is get pressure on the quarterback and force Cowboys to use him more as a blocker.
3. Eagles in the red zone: The Eagles, who finished 24th in the league in red-zone offense last season, got off to an impressive start Sunday, converting five of their trips inside the 20 into points. The big difference: a healthy L.J. Smith. Donovan McNabb threw to him 10 times vs. Rams, including six times in red zone. Four of Smith’s five receptions came in the red zone, including a 5-yard, first-quarter TD catch.
4. How JJ covers T.O.: Jim Johnson usually has his corners play sides of the field rather than specific receivers. But after Owens caught 10 passes for 174 yards in the first meeting vs. Eagles last year, Johnson went to Plan B and had Lito Sheppard shadow Owens all over the field in the December rematch. Sheppard held Owens to two catches for 37 yards and Cowboys didn’t score a touchdown. Look for Johnson to rotate Asante Samuel and Sheppard on Owens tonight.
5. Running backs in the passing game: Brian Westbrook and Lorenzo Booker weren’t very active in the passing game in Week 1. Westbrook had just two catches for 1 yard, although one was for a TD. Booker hardly played until the fourth quarter when Andy Reid cleared his bench. Expect both to be bigger pass-catching factors vs. Cowboys, whose safeties can be exploited in coverage.
What will you be watching? ...
As much as a joy as it is to listen to Merrell Reese and Mike Quick handle the Eagles games on radio, you have to wonder about the unique assignment on Westwood One radio for the national broadcast. With Boomer Esiason unavailable, Michael Irvin has gotten the call to work with Marv Albert.
A new "Monday Night Football"? Barry Horn, of the Dallas Morning News, writes about changes that fans can expect to see after the MNF broadcasts have been retooled. And it sounds like the emphasis might be on more actual football. Ron Jaworski describes his role as being a "player/coach in the booth."