NFC East: MNF2 Eagles
The Eagles were kind enough to forward us the transcript of Andy Reid's news conference from earlier today. Reid was riveting as always:
"Obviously, we are disappointed by the game. We didn't perform the way we needed to on the offensive side, which is my responsibility. We didn't start the game the way we needed to start the game, that's also my responsibility, both sides of the football and special teams with our kicker and the missed field goals. I thought we were poor in the red zone and poor on third down, which is an obvious statement. We have to do better there, which we'll work on. We have to start faster on the defensive side, I thought we finished very strong. The turnovers that we are generating are tremendous, [and] we have to keep those coming.
Then, obviously, when we have a chance to make field goals, we need to make the field goals. I mentioned before coming out of the Dallas game, I thought this was a mentally tough football team, and I still feel that way. Weeks like this right here, you have be mentally tough and you have to realize that it's a long season. You're just coming off the most important game and you have to get on to the most important game this week against the Redskins. As a coaching staff, we went through the tape, analyzed it, and we are moving on to Washington. We'll teach the players, show them their mistakes, they'll learn from it, and again, we keep it moving forward."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- In this swashbuckling column, Randy Galloway tells Cowboys fans to hold off on those Tampa reservations.
- Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News talks about Marion Barber's perseverence after a tough first half.
- Brian Davis of the DMN praises T.O. for his two touchdowns. Confusing quote of the week goes to Jerry Jones, who said of T.O., "I think a lot of us are seeing things that haven't been apparent in what T.O. is all about as an individual, and that's a plus."
- You can tell Jacques Taylor was going to rip the Cowboys' defense, but he had to turn back at the last moment because of the win.
- Mac Engel of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram also writes about the defense.
- The Cowboys' Internet operation provides some news on Roy Williams' injury.
- Tim MacMahon banged out this entertaining blog entry on Jerry Jones and then gave a fellow blogger a ride to his car at 2:30 a.m.
- Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com wrote a Tony Romo column.
- Last but certainly not least, Tim Cowlishaw weighs in on Romo.
- Paul Domowitch doesn't want anyone pinning Monday's loss on Donovan McNabb. I can't imagine that anyone's trying to do that today, but Paul knows Philly fans better than I do.
- Rich Hofmann wants to know what DeSean Jackson was thinking on that near-touchdown in the second quarter. Rich also manages to work the word "calliope" in early. I've often said you can't get that word high enough in a blog entry.
- Always nice to see Les Bowen at Texas Stadium. The Eagletarian made some strong points.
- Phil Sheridan thinks Donovan McNabb was the best quarterback on the field Monday. Great line where Phil distances himself from the "unreasonable questions" about McNabb (talk radio and message boards). I dabble in the talk radio business, but I didn't take the line personally.
- Nice column from Bob Ford in the Philly Inquirer on what may have been the Eagles final trip to Texas Stadium. Bob remained at Texas Stadium until the wee hours of Monday morning to help Philly.com work through some issues.
- Fun column from Hofmann on Texas Stadium. He remembers a time when no one "peed in the sink" at the famous facility.
IRVING, Texas -- According to our crack ESPN Research team, Eagles rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson has some history with celebrating would-be touchdowns a little early:
DeSean Jackson was only a few steps away from what would have been a 53-yard touchdown in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. But with an Alamodome crowd of 30,305 roaring in anticipation and a national television audience watching on NBC, he figured the situation called for a little extra sizzle.
"I got a little carried away and I did something I shouldn't have done," said Jackson, who not only failed to score but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when his swan dive from the 5-yard line came up 1-yard short.
Jackson more than atoned for his misguided stunt with seven catches for 141 yards and a 45-yard TD pass to teammate Ryan Perrilloux as the West all-stars dominated the East, 35-3, in the fifth annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Thanks to senior blog correspondent Ed Werder for forwarding this note.
IRVING, Texas -- I'm not believing this: Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson catches a long pass for what would have been a touchdown, but decided to celebrate after 59 yards, short of the end zone. It was an unbelievable play. Eagles got the ball on the 1-yard line because the play was blown dead.
Jackson is now credited with a 60-yard catch. One play later, Brian Westbrook flipped into the end zone. Something tells me that Andy Reid will have a long talk with Jackson about that play. It was one of the most careless things I've ever seen. Cowboys fans couldn't have been too shocked, though. No one will ever forget the Leon Lett fumble.
At this rate, the first team to 50 points wins.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Cowboys looked to be in good shape until Tony Romo threw an interception to cornerback Asante Samuel. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett kept an extra blocker to make sure Romo was comfortable against the blitz on the first couple of drives. On the interception, it looked like both Cowboys tackles were beaten. Romo escaped the blitz, but then overthrew Miles Austin.
Romo bought himself some time, and then rushed the throw for no apparent reason. It didn't take the Eagles long to capitalize, and now we have a 14-13 game. The pass interference on Anthony Henry that set up the touchdown looked pretty straightforward. He didn't find the ball, and he bumped Greg Lewis. On the replay, though, it did look like Lewis had a fistful of jersey.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Cowboys want to keep everything in front of them on defense and let the Eagles have a bunch of short completions. But on the 19-yard completion to tight end Brent Celek, Donovan McNabb slipped out of the pocket and made a nice throw across his body.
The Cowboys answered with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens. It looks like Lito Sheppard and Sean Considine both played a role in allowing that play. I can't believe Jim Johnson only rushed four on that play. No one was close to Owens on that play.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- As most of you know, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles love to take shots downfield. McNabb is the master of the "waggle," which allows him to get about three or four yards deeper in the pocket than most quarterbacks and take advantage of his big arm.
From what I've been told, the Cowboys plan to let McNabb nickel and dime them all evening. You'll see them line up in Cover 3 quite a bit, and they'll keep everything in front of him. For an aggressive cornerback like Adam Jones, it's more important than ever to be patient and not become frustrated when Brian Westbrook and L.J. Smith catch a lot of short passes.
The Cowboys want to "tackle the catch" instead of "contesting the catch" in tonight's game. They don't want McNabb taking potshots at their cornerbacks. In the past, safety Roy Williams has gotten hurt by racing up and trying to contest catches. In this game, he'll be off the field in a lot of passing situations. I think the Cowboys will match up cornerback Anthony Henry on L.J. Smith in a lot of packages. Jones will end covering DeSean Jackson most of the night.
But the biggest priority of all for the Cowboys will be slowing down Westbrook. They'll try to take away the running game early and make the Eagles one-dimensional.
Just remember that you read it here first.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- Eagles head coach Andy Reid had hoped starting wide receiver Reggie Brown (hamstring) would be ready for tonight's game, but we just found out he's inactive. That means that rookie DeSean Jackson will start for the second consecutive week. And as most of you know, he was sensational in a 38-3 victory over the Rams.
Here are the rest of the inactives:
Let me hear from you if you just saw me on "Monday Night Countdown." Yes, I realize the safety glasses were ridiculous.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
We just left the ESPN "Monday Night Football" Chalk Talk, where former players Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Marco Rivera and ex-Eagles great Mike Quick served as panelists.
Most of their comments were pretty tame, but when he was asked to compare his era Cowboys to the current group, Smith didn't hold anything back.
He said the biggest difference is that Troy Aikman was willing to walk up to offensive linemen on the sideline and "chew them out" if they weren't protecting him.
"When things erupt, you need to someone to say, 'No, that's not acceptable.'"
Smith called out Tony Romo by name during his answer to co-moderator Ed Werder's question. Earlier, Woodson told me that the Cowboys were a Super Bowl team on "paper only."
The most comical/uncomfortable moment of the luncheon came when Quick said that Terrell Owens has matured because he's "taking his medicine now."
Wish I could've seen Jerry Jones' face, but he was seated 37 rows in front of me.
OK, I'm getting sick of the buildup. Can we please play this game?
(Editor's note: Please watch more of the buildup beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN).
I'm listening to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and play-by-play man Mike Tirico talk at the "Monday Night Football Chalk Talk Luncheon" at Ruth Chris Steak House as I write. And I want you to know that the free, chilled jumbo shrimp, filet and lump crab cakes played no role at all in my showing up here.
I had an opportunity to visit with Darren Woodson and Emmitt Smith before the luncheon. Smith was running about an hour late, much like Jones and his entourage.
Woodson told me that the Eagles game he remembers most is the one where coach Barry Switzer attempted to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys' 28-yard line. He said the players all wanted Switzer to go for it, but the play became emblematic of the coach's short tenure in Dallas.
Right now, former Cowboys guard Marco Rivera has taken the stage as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Rivera is a daily reader of the NFC East blog, and he'll stop by the media table in a little while.
Alvaro Martin, play-by-play man for ESPN Deportes, has taken the stage, but his mic isn't working properly. This may have something to do with the fact that Chalk Talk co-host Ed Werder demanded that no one's mic be louder than his.
Rivera is stealing the show right now. He'll stop by the NFC Beast Blog table in a few moments. Now we're hearing from Raul Allegre, who won a Super Bowl with Bill Parcells' Giants.
|Getty Images/US Presswire|
|Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens will meet again Monday night.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- It seems a little early in the season for an NFC East showdown, but that's exactly what we have with the Eagles and Cowboys on "Monday Night Football."
Despite their lack of success in the playoffs over the past 12 seasons, the Cowboys have been penciled in on many ballots as the eventual NFC representative in Tampa. The Eagles, a team that began this decade by winning five of seven division titles, appear back on track after a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2007.
The health of 31-year-old quarterback Donovan McNabb has been an issue for this franchise since it reached the Super Bowl in 2004. However, he appears to be in top form. McNabb is not the same quarterback who orchestrated one of the most iconic plays in MNF history in November 2004 (the 14-second scramble), but he thinks injuries forced him to become a more complete player.
The last time the Eagles visited Texas Stadium, the defense badgered Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into three interceptions and McNabb evoked good memories for Eagles fans with nine carries for 53 yards in leading the Eagles to a 10-6 victory.
The win was part of a four-game streak to end the season and it's the reason the Eagles feel confident heading into Monday's game.
"If anything, it let us know we could get the job done," starting weak-side linebacker Omar Gaither told me via phone Saturday. "But that game has no bearing on what will happen Monday. We have to go down there and handle our business again."
The Eagles watched a few clips from last December's game to remind them why they had so much success against one of the top offenses in the league. Gaither said he watched the entire game because it is part of his weekly routine. So, what was the Eagles' secret to slowing Romo?
"We were able to get pressure on him," Gaither said. "You have to bring the heat with him, and I think they got in the red zone three times and didn't come away with any touchdowns. That was big for us."
Rest assured that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson won't borrow the Cleveland Browns' defensive game plan from last Sunday, which allowed Romo to loiter in the pocket throughout much of a 28-10 victory.
The Giants and Eagles have shown what can happen when you throw Romo out of rhythm. Johnson will blitz him from all over the field, and the fact that Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett rarely calls for screens and extra blockers makes Romo vulnerable at times.
|AP Photo/Robert E. Klein|
|Andy Reid holds a 13-5 edge in this series since taking over as head coach in 1999.|
Eagles fans didn't need any more reasons to hate the Cowboys, but their former wide receiver, Terrell Owens, has become an easy target. His messy divorce from McNabb and the organization in 2005 is still a topic of conversation in both cities. McNabb expressed regret last month that he and Owens weren't able to work things out, and on Thursday, the wide receiver responded.
"It became too overwhelming for Donovan," Owens said. "Other than that, I think at one point in time, I will say that we had a good relationship. I think I got too big for Philly, too big for him. But here, Tony and I have a great relationship."
Owens went on to say that Romo "gets me" like no other quarterback he's ever played with, a statement that belongs on "The View", not in a sports section. No matter who was at fault for the breakup, McNabb and Owens should play key roles in Monday's game.
On the injury front, Reid said Saturday that he's encouraged by the progress that starting wide receiver Reggie Brown made in practice and is hopeful that he'll play. Brown is listed as questionable for Monday.
For the Cowboys, Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman has indicated that he'll be ready to go against the Eagles. On Saturday, I was told that the Cowboys coaches thought there was a "75 percent" chance Newman would play, but that he won't start.
Newman's replacement in the starting lineup, Adam Jones, played well against the Browns, but he's still annoying his coaches by refusing to focus on the little things that will make him successful. The Cowboys will keep a close eye on Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson -- both at receiver and in the return game.
Last season, Bruce Read's special teams unit struggled in coverage, but Dallas had a nice effort against a Browns team that was playing without the dangerous Josh Cribbs.
This is a good measuring-stick game for both games. For the Cowboys, it's an early test to see if the team can live up to its immense hype. For the Eagles, it's a chance to serve notice that last year was an aberration.
McNabb told me during trai
ning camp that the Eagles were the best team in the NFC. On Monday, he'll have an opportunity to back that up.
Last night, an Eagles official told me that starting wide receiver Reggie Brown would be a "game-time" decision on Monday against the Cowboys. But earlier today, head coach Andy Reid seemed pretty optimistic about Brown's chances.
"We'll just see how he does here over the next couple of days and whether there's a chance that he gets in there and has an opportunity to play, which is a positive thing," Reid said. "I wasn't sure that he'd be at this spot right now. That's good."
In other Eagles news, I finally connected with starting weakside linebacker Omar Gaither by phone today. You can read about that conversation in my "Monday Night Football" preview column, which hits newsstands Sunday afternoon.
I can't recall a Week 2 game in recent years that had this type of big-game feel to it. It's enough that the Eagles and Cowboys are both coming off successful debuts and have lofty expectations. And the fact that this has become one of the most heated rivalries in football. Now, throw in the fact that T.O. is talking about his relationship with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb again and you have a delicious subplot.
For some reason, the Cowboys are favored by seven points over the Eagles. But I see this game coming down to the wire. The Eagles come in with a lot of confidence because they dominated the Cowboys in a 10-6 win last December in Texas Stadium. Jim Johnson will not make the mistake the Browns made in staying back in coverage the whole time. He'll bring pressure from all over the field in an attempt to throw Tony Romo off his rhythm. Also look for him to move players around just before the snap.
When the Cowboys are on defense, they will still keep a spy on McNabb. He might not have the mobility he had before the knee injuries, but he can still hurt you outside the pocket. The Eagles are old at offensive tackle and I think Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan could struggle with Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware. The first priority for the Cowboys defense will be slowing down running back Brian Westbrook. He's the most important component of the Eagles' offense, and he's the guy that alertly fell down at the Cowboys' 1-yard line last December to help run out the clock.
This is a golden opportunity for Redskins head coach Jim Zorn to get things back on track. Washington went south late in the preseason and didn't show any signs of recovering in the regular-season opener. The Saints are one of the sexy picks to come out of the NFC South and cause some damage in the playoffs. Reggie Bush has added some bulk to his frame, but in the opener, it didn't look like he'd lost any quickness.
Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor isn't playing at full strength and that showed up against the Giants. Tight end Kevin Boss, not a man known for his blocking skills, neutralized Taylor and the Giants gashed the Redskins with the run. Saints head coach Sean Payton loves the fact that Redskins safety LaRon Landry lines up 25 yards off the line of scrimmage, and he'll try to locate Jeremy Shockey early and often.
But a lot of this comes down to whether Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell can do a better job operating Zorn's West Coast offense. He'll have a bigger target if rookie Malcolm Kelly's ready to go, but I have a hard time thinking Kelly will be that effective. You can not finish this game with Chris Cooley having one catch.
That has to be a huge priority for Campbell early in the game. The fact that the Saints won't have Marques Colston offers the Redskins' secondary some hope. It's not the end of the world if the Redskins fall to 0-2, but it's close to it.
The Giants have a 10-game road winning streak dating back to last season, and that's a huge point of emphasis and pride for head coach Tom Coughlin. There's no way you can overlook the fact that the Rams looked awful in the season-opener in Philly, but that's why Coughlin is worried to death heading into this game.
I'm serious as I can be. I think the Rams will stand up and play in this game. The Giants are going to win, but it won't be as easy as they want it to be. Eli Manning was pretty erratic in the second half against what looked like a bad Redskins team.
I think Coughlin's going to do a better job of working running back Ahmad Bradshaw into this game. He didn't have a carry against the Redskins, and I don't think Coughlin was happy about it. Bradshaw's too good a player to stay on the sideline. Keep your eye on defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. He has a sore ankle, but he should be OK.
In his outstanding blog, the Eagletarian, Les Bowen of the Philly Daily News compares the Eagles' 2004 Super Bowl starters to the group from Dallas' 2008 team. Terrell Owens, a member of that 2004 team, said Thursday the Cowboys had "way more talent" than that 2004 squad.
Of course, it helps to mix in a playoff win once every 12 years or so, but we won't get into that. Here's the list of starters from those seasons followed by my editorial comments.
WR -- Terrell Owens vs. Terrell Owens: Hard to say which version is more talented. He was one of the best receivers in football in 2004 and he remains one of the best. I'll give the nod to the record-setting T.O. of '07, which makes the 2008 Owens better.
LT -- Tra Thomas vs. Flozell Adams: The 2007 version of Adams was once again dominant. I think you have to take him over Thomas, whose back could flare up at any minute.
LG -- Artis Hcks vs. Cory Procter: You have to take Hicks since Procter's simply a spot starter right now.
C -- Hank Fraley vs. Andre Gurode: Gurode is becoming a perennial Pro Bowler. Fraley was a nice player for that team, but he's not in Gurode's league.
RG -- Jermane Mayberry vs. Leonard Davis: Davis gets the nod. He was the best lineman on the team last season. Absolutely dominant.
RT -- Jon Runyan vs. Marc Colombo: I'll give the nod to the 2004 version of Runyan.
TE -- L.J. Smith vs. Jason Witten: Witten is a no-brainer pick. Smith could have a breakout season, though.
WR -- Todd Pinkston vs. Patrick Crayton: Wasn't Pinkston decent at one point? Actually, he only had one touchdown in 2004. Crayton had seven TDs last season and nearly 700 yards receiving. Give me Crayton.
QB -- Donovan McNabb vs. Tony Romo: Wow, the 2004 McNabb vs. the 2008 Romo. Both tremendous players, but McNabb has more playoff notches in his belt.
FB -- Josh Parry vs. Deon Anderson: Anderson is still learning, so give me Parry.
RB -- Brian Westbrook vs. Marion Barber: Westbrook is one of the league's superstars. He wins over a tremendous young player.
LE -- Jevon Kearse vs. Marcus Spears: Kearse was a disappointment in Philly, but I'll take him over the improving Spears.
NT -- Corey Simon vs. Jay Ratliff: This was before Simon fell off the map. Ratliff's a terriffic young player, but give me Simon.
RE -- Darwin Walker (right DT) vs. Chris Canty: Canty will emerge as a Pro Bowler this season. He's also the better overall talent.
SLB -- Dhani Jones vs. Greg Ellis: Jones was a sharp dresser and talker but Ellis was and is the better player.
MILB -- Jeremiah Trotter vs. Bradie James: James does a nice job in the middle, but Trotter was destroying people in 2004. I loved watching him blitz up the middle. Give me Trotter.
OLB -- Derrick Burgess (right DE) Zach Thomas: Burgess has been exiled to Oakland, so I'm trying to remember how good he was. Even at his advanced age, I'd rather have Thomas than the 2004 version of Burgess.
LB -- Mark Simoneau vs. DeMarcus Ware: Next.
LCB -- Lito Sheppard vs. Terence Newman: Sheppard is immensely talented, but he's banged up too often for us to notice. Give the nod to Newman.
RCB -- Sheldon Brown vs. Anthony Henry: Despite what Drew Rosenhaus might tell you, Brown is an excellent corner. He's more talented than Henry.
FS -- Brian Dawkins vs. Ken Hamlin: Hamlin has become a Pro Bowler, but I'll take the 2004 version of Dawkins any day.
SS -- Michael Lewis vs. Roy Williams: Lewis is more talented as a player and a writer.
P -- Dirk Johnson vs. Mat McBriar: McBriar takes down my old friend and former Colorado caddie, Dirk Johnson.
K -- David Akers vs. Nick Folk: Folk is more talented than Akers, but he doesn't have the body of work. Stick with Akers.
KR -- J.R. Reed vs. Felix Jones: Felix is still green, so I'll take J.R.
PR -- Dexter Wynn vs. Adam Jones: Can't my guy, Reno Mahe, get some love? Give me Pac.
I've got the teams dead even (13-13). Feel free to break the tie.