The Scouting Report for Sunday night’s Cowboys vs. Eagles game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, led by former Eagles, Cardinals, and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn and Evan Pritt.
Miles Sanders vs. Ezekiel Elliott
- This game will show off some talented running backs. Sanders is fourth in the NFL with 82 yards per game and is showing he can be a top-level back. Sanders has outstanding balance and body control.
- Elliott is a better player than Sanders, but it’s not a huge gap in the big picture. Elliott’s numbers are as good as Sanders, but Sanders’ offensive line – for the most part – has been healthy.
- The Eagles drafted Sanders in the second round. There are quality running backs in every round, so teams should not draft a running back in the first round, even if he is a talent like Elliott.
- When you look at a draft board, it is filled with good running backs in all rounds, but other positions, such as pass rusher and offensive tackle, are more difficult to get in the later rounds.
- I like the Eagles’ approach — they took an OT in the first round because they understood they could get a running back in the second round and beyond.
- Elliott’s offensive line has gotten worse through the years, and he is showing wear and tear from more than 1,700 career carries.
- The edge would go to Elliott if he were in his prime, but right now, the edge goes to Sanders. The advantage from a team-building perspective goes to the Eagles, who used draft capital and cap space more efficiently.
- The Cowboys drafting RB Tony Pollard is a quality example of team building at the RB position. Rather than invest a substantial second contract in a running back, you can find good options in the draft’s middle rounds.
CeeDee Lamb vs. Darius Slay
- This is a matchup between two premier players at their position. Lamb will line up all over the formation, while Slay will stay on the perimeter but plays on both sides. You should expect Slay to match up with Lamb often.
- Lamb is having a good start to his season. He is tied for the seventh in targets with 50, and he has logged 341 yards receiving and two TDs. He is Cooper Rush’s favorite target, while Rush has taken over QB responsibilities for Dak Prescott.
- Lamb is a bigger-bodied X-receiver who runs tough, hard routes and shows good toughness. He does not shy away from contact over the middle, does a good job setting up his routes with his feet and uses his body to shield defenders.
- Lamb has good speed, though he is not a burner, and he has good leaping ability and body control on the sideline. He also does an excellent job in contested catch situations when he can’t find separation. He lets the ball get in on his body causing concentration drops, but he will also make “wow” catches.
- Slay is having a productive season as well. He is tied for 10th in passes defended (five) and tied for seventh in interceptions (two). Furthermore, he’s only allowed a 26.7 passer rating and a 40.7% completion percentage when targeted.
- Slay is a long, rangy outside corner. He is a fluid athlete with smooth hips and good transition coming downhill in off-coverage. He has good strength in press coverage, and he can knock receivers off their routes.
- Slay also has the speed to carry deep routes and the arm length to recover when beat. In addition, he has good instincts and can anticipate routes before they happen. Slay has a nose for the ball and can knock down passes or take them away.
- Lamb will have to continue to play tough, especially when matched up with Slay. Both guys won’t back down at the challenge, so this could be an exhilarating battle to watch. The Cowboys may try to get Lamb into the slot more often since Slay doesn’t play their often.
Eagles’ OL vs. Cowboys’ Pass Rush
- The Cowboys lead the league with 91 pressures – 14 more than any other team – while blitzing at the 11th-lowest rate. They are second in sack rate at 10.75%.
- The Cowboys give a lot of different looks, with players aligning in multiple spots using lots of two-point stances. They also run a lot of well-executed stunts.
- In addition to having players who can win one-on-one matchups, Dallas’ scheme creates confusion for offensive lines struggling with continuity and communication. They exploited those deficiencies when they faced the Buccaneers, Bengals and Rams. However, it will be a different challenge against a well-coached and coordinated Eagles OL.
- They frequently substitute defensive linemen to keep guys fresh, but three main guys make their pass rush go. Micah Parsons is the star, but Demarcus Lawrence is playing at a Pro Bowl level, and fifth-year-pro Dorance Armstrong is on pace for a career year.
- Parsons is a rare and talented edge rusher who also lines up as an off-the-ball linebacker. When he lines up on the edge, he has impressive explosiveness and twitch.
- Parsons has excellent contact balance and strength to rip through pass sets and close the angle to the QB. He is tied for the league lead with six sacks and is second in pressures with 28.
- Lawrence is not always the most graceful athlete, but he has a good get-off, excellent length and active hands. He’s been effective when kicked inside in a stand-up position. He exhibits incredible speed to power and will just roll through contact. He has three sacks and is tied for fourth with 22 pressures.
- The Eagles’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, and until LT Jordan Mailata missed the game last week, they’ve been healthy.
- This unit is second in the NFL with 419 yards per game and fourth in the NFL with 160 yards rushing per game.
- Jason Kelce is a future Hall of Famer. I have seen Kelce do things 20 yards down the field that I have never seen another player do. He can turn 10-yard runs into touchdowns. His leadership is also rare, and he is the leader of this unit.
- Mailata is a rare talent that did not play college football. The Eagles discovered him playing rugby and drafted him in the seventh round. It took some time, but now he is a top-level starter and one of the most athletic in the NFL. RT Lane Johnson is also a possible Hall of Famer and an elite player at his position.
- The last Eagles QB to beat the Cowboys was Carson Wentz in 2020.
- The Eagles have scored 92 points in the second quarter this season and only 46 points in the other three quarters.
Cowboys’ Keys to Victory
- Don’t let Jalen Hurts beat you with his legs, especially on third downs.
- Create space for Elliott and Pollard to get to the second level of the Eagles’ defense.
Eagles’ Keys to Victory
- Slow down the running game and force Rush to beat you.
- Force the Cowboys’ defense to defend the run, so their pass rush can’t dominate the game.
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