The Eagles returned from their bye week to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. After 30 minutes of action, the Birds trail the 'Boys, 13-3. Here's what I saw in the first half of tonight's game:
- All hands on deck. The Eagles defense has been dealing with a litany of injuries and Jim Schwartz dug deep into the team's reserves early in the first quarter. Nate Gerry, Tre Sullivan and Corey Graham all saw snaps in different personnel groupings. The defense was forced into a tough situation after Carson Wentz's interception, but still held Dallas to just three points.
- Shaking off the rust. The Eagles offense struggled on their opening drive, going three-and-out. But Wentz's interception on the Birds' second drive was his worst throw of the season. Expecting the offense to come out with Golden Tate and set the League on fire was certainly unrealistic, but to see Wentz making rookie mistakes was jarring. The Eagles were held scoreless in the first quarter for the sixth time this season.
- Little mistakes. It's cliche to preach the fundamentals, but the Eagles defense struggled to make simple plays late in the first quarter. Kamu Grugier-Hill dropped a pick six and Ronald Darby didn't wrap up on a tackle attempt, which allowed Amari Cooper to pick up a first down. The Cowboys ended up punting later in the drive, but little mistakes like these add up over the course of a season.
- Bad ending. The Eagles allowed a 75-yard touchdown drive in just 74 seconds at the end of the first half. The Eagles' inability to stop third-and-longs tonight has been startling and is directly responsible for the Birds going into the half down by 10 points.
The Eagles simply look flat. The defense has held their own, but the Cowboys aren't some offensive juggernaut. The Birds were caught napping on a fake punt and the offense got blown off the ball on a failed fourth-down conversion. Doug Pederson is a pretty low-key guy, but if there was ever a time to break a clipboard, throw a chair and deliver an Eric Taylor-esque halftime speech, it's now. The Eagles season rides on this second half.
Second Half X-Factor: Golden Tate
It's clear the Eagles are trying to get Tate the ball as often as possible. The newest Eagle was on the receiving end of a screen pass on a third-and-long during the Birds' first drive and has also been on punt return duties tonight. The Eagles' offense is in sore need of a spark and Tate was brought on to be a big-play threat. It's time for him to prove he was worth a third-round pick.