Dallas Cowboys: Juqua Parker

NFC East Beat Writers series: Eagles

June, 30, 2010
We welcome you to Day 3 of our series on the NFC East. We're a little late, and for that we apologize. Today we look at the Eagles, a team that lost three times to the Cowboys last season. And with that we talked to Philadelphia Inquirer Eagles beat writer Jeff McLane.

Five things to worry about

1. Offensive line. There are questions at each spot. Tackle Jason Peters wasn't great and Winston Justice was solid but he has to show he's more than a pass blocker. Jamaal Jackson is coming back from ACL surgery and might miss part of camp. I don't think I can count on him. Nick Cole had problems in the Dallas game snapping the ball. A lot of question marks.

2. Cornerback. Asante Samuel on one side, but teams showed beause he didn't play press coveage they can do some double-screens to give him problems. Ellis Hobbs replaces Sheldon Brown. The Eagles seem to think if they can get to the passer it's going to be OK.

3. Free safety. Nate Allen is an upgrade from Macho Harris, who moved to corner. Allen will compete with Quintin Demps.

4. Strong side linebacker. Not sure if Moise Fokou is big enough and he's not great in pass coverage. Stewart Bradley is another player who might come back and do something.

5. Coaching. Andy Reid has got a little pressure on him just because Donovan McNabb is not here anymore. I'm sure people want to see if he can win without Donovan. It's the biggest test of Andy's career.

Five things not to worry about:

Wide receiver. They've got DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Maclin will be better than last year. And when you add Jason Avant, you might have the best slot receiver in the league. I think they got one of the better wide receiver corps in the NFC East.

Tight end. Brent Celek can only get better. It's a little worrysome about the backups. Clay Harbor and Cornelius Ingram both have issues. Ingram hasn't played in almost three years because of two torn ACLs.

Defensive end. Trent Cole and Juqua Parker are solid, and adding Brandon Graham makes this a position of strength. They made defensive end a priority in the offseason and they felt like they needed to get to the quarterback. I think Graham will be a playmaker.

Quarterback. I know it's the No. 1 question coming in, but they are a lot more worried about other things than this. Kevin Kolb has been in the system for three years and he's developed a rapport with the wide receivers. I think Kolb will do pretty well.

5. David Akers. He's as good as it gets. A couple of down years, but he's rejuvenated.

Cowboys-Eagles key matchups

November, 7, 2009

We'll look at one matchup from both sides of the ball:

Cowboys RT Marc Colombo vs. Eagles LDE Juqua Parker: Victor Abiamiri, the Eagles' starting left defensive end, is doubtful with a knee injury. The Cowboys could take advantage of his absence by running right at the 6-2, 250-pound Parker, who has a significant size disadvantage against the 6-8, 320-pound Colombo. Strongside linebacker Chris Gocong (quadriceps and hamstring) is also doubtful, so the Eagles could be especially vulnerable on running plays when Parker is on the strong side.

Establishing the run is especially important against the Eagles, who thrive in third-and-long situations. Philadelphia ranks among the league leaders in sacks (23) and turnovers forced (21) in large part because of its exotic blitz packages. If the Cowboys are running the ball effectively, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Sean McDermott can't be as creative with his calls.

Running back Marion Barber hasn't averaged 4.0 yards per carry in a game since straining his quadriceps in the second week. He's lacked his normal burst and power. However, according to Cowboys coaches, Barber is close to full strength now. He should have opportunities to hammer away on the right side.

Eagles WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin vs. Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins: After using premium draft picks on Jackson and Maclin the last two years, the Eagles suddenly have one of the most explosive young receiver corps in the NFL.

Jenkins said the primary goal for the Cowboys' secondary Sunday will be to prevent the big play. That will take a heck of a performance by the cornerbacks and some help from the pass rush.

Philadelphia has 50-plus-yard touchdowns in six of seven games this season. Jackson has six such touchdowns this season -- including a punt return and reverse -- which ties and team record and is two shy of the most for a season in NFL history. Maclin, a rookie first-rounder, started slowly but has touchdowns of 51, 40 and 23 yards in the last four games.

"All those guys can stretch the field and play fast," Jenkins said. "I love challenges like that."

The Cowboys' cornerbacks pride themselves on being aggressive and physical, but they have to exercise some caution against the fast Philly receivers.

Secondary coach Dave Campo has stressed this week to the cornerbacks to watch for double-moves, which Jackson in particular often uses to get open deep.

"We've got to use good eyes," Campo said.

If not, the Cowboys' corners could be looking at the back of green jerseys en route to the end zone.