Despite the fact that he’s been like the invisible man for nearly all the season Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is needed desperately by this football team. He practiced with the team on Monday and is expected back in action today, when the Birds return to practice after their Tuesday off. If he can return to action soon and play like he’s capable of playing, he could help this team turn their whole season around.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants to make sure to give Jernigan time to get ready to play. “To go in with any expectation I think doesn’t do the right thing by him,” Schwartz said regarding Jernigan’s return to action. “We just sort of take it one day at a time and see where he is. When he’s ready, we’ll get him back out there.”
Jernigan is needed desperately by this football team because offensive lines are starting to make a habit of double and triple teaming All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. If Jernigan can consistently beat the man in front of him, it will force opposing offenses to stop double-teaming Cox. If they can free up Cox so that he only has one man blocking him, it could allow him to help the defense improve its turnover numbers.
The Birds need to be dominant with their pass rush up the middle and that means Cox and Jernigan whupping butt and taking names. This duo is capable of pushing the opposing offensive line back into the face of the quarterback. This will be a must in a couple of weeks when they play Drew Brees and that explosive New Orleans Saints offense. This week versus the Cowboys, they won’t have to deal with stopping an outstanding passing game.
The goals for the Eagles defensive line on Sunday night will start with the shutting down of the Cowboys running game. They don’t need to be thinking pass rush at the start of the game, their focus should be getting off run blocks and getting to Ezekiel Elliott, who is the fourth leading rushing the NFL right now. Despite the absence of Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, the Cowboys are still very dependent on their offensive line and their running game.
The Eagles defensive front have got to put a halt to running of Elliott by attacking line of scrimmage, then fighting off blocks and getting to the football. They can’t let Dallas get their running game going early, they must shut it down immediately. They must force the Cowboys to beat them with their anemic passing game.
The Cowboys recently added wide receiver Amari Cooper to their squad, but this is not going to make a huge difference in their production. Cooper is a decent receiver, but I don’t think he’s a dominant number one receiver, which is what Dallas needed. They need a receiver who can take over a game and dominate. Cooper will help the struggling Prescott and the offense a bit, but I don’t think he’s going to make a huge difference.
Once the Eagles slow down Elliott, they should have little trouble destroying the rest of the Cowboys offense. I know that Prescott and his receivers are going to try to attack the Eagles struggling cornerbacks, but even our cornerbacks should be able to hold their own against the Cowboys poor receivers. I want to see the Eagles secondary get their hands on the football against Prescott. Turnovers are going to be very important down the stretch for the Birds, so I would like to see them start out strong at home against the Cowboys. Prescott and the Cowboys passing game are struggling and the Eagles should take advantage of it.