Amari Cooper

Doug Pederson on Cowboys: 'This team has our number'

Doug Pederson on Cowboys: 'This team has our number'

Doug Pederson is going to try to do something this weekend that he’s had a hard time doing since he got here.

Beat the Cowboys.

Pederson is 2-5 against the Cowboys, although in the loss on the last day of the 2017 regular season with the Eagles already locked into the No. 1 seed came with backup players.

“This team has our number right now,” Pederson said Friday.

The Eagles face the Cowboys on Sunday at the Linc with a chance at the NFC East title at stake.

A win combined with a win against the Giants a week from Sunday gives the Eagles the NFC East title and a playoff berth. A loss gives the division title to the Cowboys. 

A Cowboys win Sunday would make Dallas the first team to win the NFC East two years in a row since the Eagles in 2003 and 2004 and give the Cowboys three division titles in the last four years.

So there’s a lot going on here. 

Pederson is 38-22 against the rest of the NFL, a .633 winning percentage. And 2-5 against the Cowboys.

He conceded Friday that the Eagles' failures against the Cowboys bother him.

“I do think about that,” Pederson said Friday. “The start of the season every head coach gets up and says, ’Let’s take care of our division.’ You take care of your division, you’re in the postseason. The Cowboys have been a team we've struggled with, honestly. It’s something we've just got to continue to work and try to overcome. They've had our number here recently and then really since my time here in Philly. It’s something that as we look at the tape and how I prepare the football team and get ready to play and all of that, I look at all of that. At the end of the day, we’re focused on this game, and hopefully we can turn things around. We do well with the other teams. It’s just this one team that has our number right now.”

The Eagles are 6-2 vs. the Redskins and 6-1 vs. the Giants under Pederson. 
The only other team that the Eagles have faced more than once since 2016 that Pederson has a losing record against is the Seahawks (0-3). You can add the Saints (0-2) if you include the playoffs.

If the Cowboys win Sunday, it will be the first time since 1993 and 1994 they’ve swept the Eagles in consecutive seasons. 

The Eagles haven’t swept the Cowboys since 2011, and their current four-game losing streak to Dallas is their longest since a seven-game losing streak over the 1992 through 1995 seasons.

The Eagles are 1-6 in their last seven games against the Cowboys at the Linc and overall going back to 2009, they’ve won just 8 of the last 22 matchups.
Carson Wentz has played well against the Cowboys, with 11 TDs and 2 INTs. 

But the Eagles have had trouble stopping Dallas. In the last three games in particular the Cowboys have averaged 31 points, 167 rushing yards and 462 total yards and converted at least 50 percent of their third downs in all three games.

This is the first the Cowboys have ever netted 400 yards in three straight games against the Eagles.

The Cowboys crushed the Eagles 37-10 in October, taking a quick 14-0 lead after two early Eagles turnovers and not looking back. It was the Cowboys’ most lopsided win over the Eagles since 1998.

“I look back to our first game, again, the turnovers early in that football game really cost us big and then we were playing from behind,” Pederson said. “Even some of the games that we’ve watched this week and from last year and even the year before, we got down early in these games, and it’s something we try to put an emphasis on the best we can. We’ve got to stop the run, we understand that, and try to slow them down, and offensively we’ve got to start fast and put points on the board and try to sustain. (And avoid) the penalties where you’re in 3rd -and-long and their pass rushers can really get after you. And then we’ve got to be able to score sooner than later against these guys.”

Stop the run, don’t turn the ball over and avoid commit costly penalties. Sounds easy. For the Eagles against the Cowboys lately, it’s been anything but.

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5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Cowboys in NFL Week 16

5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Cowboys in NFL Week 16

The Eagles (7-7) will host the Cowboys (7-7) in an important NFC East battle in Week 16 at Lincoln Financial Field. 

A quick reminder: If the Cowboys win, they will clinch the division. If the Eagles win, they won’t just yet. They would either need to beat the Giants in the regular season finale or hope the Cowboys lose to Washington. 

In recent history, the Cowboys have pretty much owned the Eagles. The Eagles are 2-5 against the Cowboys since Doug Pederson took over in 2016. They have lost the last four games to the Cowboys, dating back to 2017. 

Earlier this season, the Eagles lost 37-10 to the Cowboys, which was the biggest margin of victory for any of their opponents against them this year. 

To the matchups: 

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Eagles’ run defense 

The only two times Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have beaten the Cowboys in the last four years came when Elliott didn’t play. The All-Pro running back is 5-0 against the Birds in his career. This is such a key we already spent time earlier in the week breaking down this matchup and its importance

In the previous matchup, Elliott ran everywhere. 

Amari Cooper vs. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills 

Aside from Elliott, the other offensive weapon who has killed the Eagles is Cooper. In three games as a Cowboy against the Eagles, he has 21 catches for 398 yards (18.9) and three touchdowns. That also includes the game on Oct. 20, when Cooper had five catches for 106 yards. His biggest game against the Eagles came last December in Dallas when he had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns against what was left of the Eagles’ secondary. Even earlier this year, Cooper faced the Eagles without Ronald Darby and in Jalen Mills’ first game back from injury. 

That’s not to say Mills and Darby have performed well recently. They certainly haven’t. Aside from receiver, the Eagles’ cornerback position is their biggest problem. 

This season, the Eagles have allowed an individual 100-yard receiving game 10 times to nine different players (Terry McLaurin twice). Cooper has been banged up this season, but this is a big chance for him to have a day. 

Eagles right tackle vs. DeMarcus Lawrence 

In the last meeting, Lane Johnson finally gave up his first sack to Lawrence and it was a huge one. On that play, Carson Wentz fumbled and the Cowboys punched in a touchdown two plays later. Coming into this game, Johnson has a high ankle sprain and his status is unknown. If Johnson plays, he won’t be 100 percent. If he can’t play, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will fill in. Big V did a fine job last week against the Redskins but Ryan Kerrigan didn’t play in that game. Facing Lawrence in a must-win game is a much bigger task. 

This season, Lawrence’s sack numbers are down. He has just 5.0 sacks in 14 games, but he’s still dangerous. 

Xavier Su’a-Filo vs. Tim Jernigan 

The Cowboys have a pretty good offensive line but the weak spot is definitely Su’a-Filo at left guard filling in for Connor Williams, who is on Injured Reserve. Su’a-Filo is now in his sixth NFL season and is probably best as a backup. His strength is in the run game; he’ll give up some pressure in pass protection. If Fletcher Cox is dealing with right guard Zack Martin, there’s a chance for Jernigan to get some pressure on Su’a-Filo. Jernigan has never been known as a sack guy, but this season he has just one and it came in the season opener. This would be a good time for him to at least pressure Dak Prescott and if not, at least beat Su’a-Filo and get Zeke to the ground. 

Miles Sanders vs. Cowboys run defense 

Since the bye week, without Jordan Howard, Sanders has really proven himself to be a feature back. He’s coming off his best game as a pro against Washington; he had 122 rushing yards and 172 yards from scrimmage in that one. He should get a lot of touches in this game, including in the screen game, where the Cowboys are susceptible. 

The Cowboys are statistically the 12th-best rushing defense in the league, giving up 103.6 yards per game this season. The Cowboys got a lead against the Rams and then limited them to 22 rushing yards last week. But that broke a streak of seven straight games of the Cowboys’ allowing 100-plus on the ground. You can run on this team if you’re not forced to pass. Doug Pederson just can’t abandon it too early. 

We all understand the Eagles don’t have big-play ability and in this game that might be OK. Keep feeding Sanders the rock and try to hold the ball for as long as possible to keep that Dallas offense off the field. That should be the idea in this game. 

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That Golden Tate trade looks worse with each passing minute

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AP Images

That Golden Tate trade looks worse with each passing minute

Amari Cooper put together an all-time great performance against the Eagles on Sunday and has helped transform the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. 

Golden Tate could barely get on the field. 

In the biggest game of the season, more than a month after he joined the team, Tate played just 38 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. 

That’s unacceptable for a lot of reasons. 

In the wake of the Eagles’ 29-23 crushing loss in overtime at AT&T Stadium, it’s almost impossible to avoid the comparison. At the time, when the Cowboys traded a first-round pick for Cooper, a lot of us laughed at them. And then many of us in Philly were seemingly on board when the Eagles shipped a third-round pick for eight games of Tate. 

Oops. 

Look at Cooper’s stats from Sunday: He played 90 snaps and had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. 

Tate played just 20 snaps. He had one catch for seven yards. He was targeted just three times. 

Cooper had more yards and touchdowns Sunday afternoon than Tate has in five games (189 yards, 1 touchdown) since he joined the Eagles at the trade deadline on Oct. 30. 

Really, the inability for Tate to get involved in the Eagles’ offense falls directly on their offensive coaching staff. Howie Roseman handed them one of the most productive receivers over the last half decade and they haven’t been able to use him properly. In Dallas, they got Cooper and he has already had two monster games and looks like a Pro Bowl player, even in a new offense. 

The hardest part to swallow about Tate’s ineffectiveness and misuse Sunday was that he finally had a big impact the previous week. Against Washington, he had seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. It looked like the Eagles had finally figured out how to use him, they were turning a corner. It looked like they were finally going to at least make that trade a little more worth it. 

And then one catch for seven yards. His worst game since October 2016 when he had one catch for one yard. During the last few seasons, Tate consistently produced every Sunday. And now the Eagles have no idea how to use him. The Eagles on Sunday prioritized using 12 personnel to get Dallas Goedert on the field and that worked, but keeping Tate on the bench is just unacceptable.

Maybe you can look at Tate and think at 30 years old maybe he just isn’t the same player anymore. But exactly a month before the Eagles traded for him, he had a game with eight catches, 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions obviously knew how to use him. 

Roseman had to be pulling his hair out watching this Sunday. He parted with a third-round pick to get Tate and to show the front office still had faith in the Eagles when they were 4-4. Well, the trade looks awful now and the Eagles’ playoff hopes are dwindling.  

I was on board with the trade when Roseman pulled the trigger in late October, but back then I had faith that the Eagles’ coaches were going to be able to figure out how to make it work. They haven’t. And because of that, this trade looks worse by the minute.

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