Before we get to Man Up, I charted the Eagles' defensive snaps yesterday to get a better idea of how much they blitzed, how effective they were when they blitzed, etc.
Tomorrow I'll post the breakdown, and we can start making some guesses about what Sean McDermott's gameplan will be Saturday night.
But first, here's the player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles' defense performed:
Juqua Parker - No pressure from the Eagles' defensive line all game. Parker picked up a meaningless sack late in the fourth quarter, but otherwise did nothing to make Tony Romo uncomfortable. The Cowboys directed their rushing attack to Parker's side and had success. There was a 32-yard Marion Barber run in the first where Parker could not get off his block. And he rushed off the edge on a delayed handoff, creating a hole for a Barber 8-yard run. Parker made a couple nice plays against the run, but was ineffective overall.
Mike Patterson - The Cowboys double-teamed him on the 32-yard Barber run in the first. They had some success blocking him one-one-one also on gains of 11 yards and 8 yards, respectively. Patterson improved in the second half, stuffing Felix Jones on a pair of plays. He picked up a sack in the fourth, courtesy of an Eagles blitz off the edge, but did not get any pressure on Romo otherwise.
Brodrick Bunkley - Most of the Cowboys' successful runs were aimed away from Bunkley and Trent Cole. He batted down a Romo pass attempt on the Cowboys' first possession and made a nice play to stuff Barber on a delayed handoff on 2nd-and-goal in the first.
Trent Cole - He's been completely neutralized as a pass rusher in two meetings against the Cowboys this season. Sean McDermott tried a couple different things to get Cole going. On one play in the first, he switched places with a linebacker before the snap and rushed up the middle. The Cowboys did some smart things too, like rolling Romo out to his right early on. Against the run, he made some nice plays. But on the Jones 49-yard touchdown, it looked like Cole took one step in the wrong direction, which allowed Jones to beat him outside.
Chris Clemons - Like Cole, he switched places with a linebacker on that same play and rushed up the middle. Clemons was on the field for less than 10 snaps and did not have success as a pass rusher. He did get a little shove on Romo in the fourth quarter, and was fortunate to not be flagged for it.
Victor Abiamiri - He was a regular part of the D-line rotation, usually coming in to play inside on passing downs. Don't remember him getting any pressure up the middle. Abiamiri dropped back into coverage in the first quarter on one play.
Darren Howard - I could take the above write-up on Abiamiri and basically just paste it here. The only difference was Howard saw an extra series playing outside at right defensive end to give Cole a breather.
Jason Babin - He also played quite a bit, but did not have an impact. Babin was blocked on the 18-yard Barber run in the first quarter that went to the right side. By the way, Barber had not had a carry of more than 12 yards in his previous four games. He had runs of 32 and 18 yards on the Cowboys' first possession against the Eagles.
Will Witherspoon - Ups and downs for Witherspoon. The downs mostly came against the run. Cowboys backup tight end Jason Phillips made a key block on Witherspoon on Barber's 32-yard run. He really struggled early, failing to get off his block on an 11-yard Jones run in the first and overrunning the play on an 8-yard Jones carry. Witherspoon was completely fooled on the 49-yard Jones touchdown run, biting on Romo's initial fake. He made some nice plays in coverage, one against Barber in the flat in the first quarter, and another against Miles Austin on a WR screen at the end of the first half.
Moise Fokou - Missed tackles and a personal foul penalty for Fokou. And I still think he's probably their best option to man the strong side LB spot. Fokou was blocked on the 18-yard Barber run in the first and missed a tackle on a 6-yard Jones carry. The big one was his missed tackle on the 49-yard Jones run in the second half. Fokou was one of only two or three guys who had a chance. The penalty was a 15-yarder for getting his hands on Romo's helmet. The positives were a blitz in the fourth, which led to Patterson's sack, and a nice play against the run late.
Akeem Jordan - He started the game at middle linebacker, but was ineffective, particularly against the run. Jordan played 28 of 38 snaps in the first half, but was on the field for just one play (out of 29) in the second half. A step back after he played really well a week ago against Denver. And one that probably should have been expected, considering he's been moved from weak side to the middle.
Jeremiah Trotter - He was on the field for six snaps in the first half. But in the second half, he was McDermott's guy in the middle, playing 23 snaps. And not only in the base defense. Trotter stayed on the field with Witherspoon even when Joselio Hanson came in as the nickel back and the Eagles went with two linebackers. He really made a big difference in the D's effort against the run and was active throughout. There were some bad plays, like the 49-yard Jones run where he was fooled by the initial fake. And Trotter was matched up in coverage a couple times against Witten, getting beat for gains of 25 and 10 yards. More on this tomorrow, but I've got to think he's going to see more action early on Saturday night.
Tracy White - He was on the field for nine snaps. White put a big hit on Barber to force an incompletion on a screen pass in the third quarter.
Asante Samuel - He helped cause the Joselio Hanson interception but gambled and lost on multiple other occasions. Samuel tried to cut in front of Witten in the first quarter on the TD and was burned by Austin for 40 yards on a 2nd-and-17 later in the game. Austin beat him for 12 yards on a third down in the first quarter also.
Sheldon Brown - Brown was called for pass interference on third down during the Cowboys’ first scoring drive, allowing Dallas' offense to stay on the field. He was part of the miscommunication on the 14-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton in the second.
Joselio Hanson - He came up with the big interception on 3rd-and-goal in the first quarter. Like I said, we'll break down all the blitzes in tomorrow's post, but it should be noted that the Eagles did not bring Hanson from the slot at all in this one. McDermott had done that quite a bit previously. Hanson was beat on a 32-yard completion to Crayton in the fourth.
Dimitri Patterson - Only on the field for two snaps, and it wasn't in his traditional role as the sixth DB. Instead, Patterson came in to spell Samuel for a couple plays in the second quarter. This is the second week in a row that's happened, I believe. Not sure if Samuel was banged-up or if there was a specific package that called for Patterson to replace him.
Quintin Mikell - More downs than ups for Mikell. He had a chance to bring Barber down after about a 7-yard gain, but missed, on the play where he went for 32. He also was one of two or three players who had a chance at Jones on the 49-yard run and missed a tackle. Mikell did not do a good job on the 18-yard Barber run, either. In coverage, he was beat by Witten on a 16-yard gain on 2nd-and-7 in the third quarter.
Macho Harris - He played most of the snaps at free safety, but did not make many plays. It looked like Harris slipped on the 30-yard throw to Crayton in the second.
Sean Jones - He was only on the field for seven snaps, by my count. Jones is clearly a better option at free safety in terms of run support, but his missed tackles have been problematic. It'll be interesting to see if McDermott gets him in there more on Saturday, especially early.