DAL-PHI Grades: Offenses struggle, Romo exits in Dallas win
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s Dallas-Philadelphia game, including the highest-graded players for each team:
— The big story of the game is obviously Tony Romo (-1.2) having to miss time. He had a few missed throws before his injury including an underthrown corner route in the end zone to Jason Witten on a third down which resulted in the Cowboys settling for a field goal. Brandon Weeden (+1.2), to his credit, did more than just manage the game when he came in. Weeden was only asked to drop back and pass eight times, but fared well completing all seven attempts and scrambling for a first down.
— Not a banner day for the Cowboys run blocking. Unfortunately for them their best run blocker on the day, left tackle Tyron Smith (+2.5), was aligned right next to their worst, left guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (-3.2), meaning they could never string enough blocks together for a crease. As such, the Cowboys’ runners were forced to gain 78 of their 113 yards after contact.
— Without a doubt the player of the game was Sean Lee (+4.6). His end zone interception late in the third quarter showed extremely rare awareness for a linebacker and completely stifled the Eagles comeback attempt. The Cowboys employed some odd front seven alignments meant to combat the Eagles rushing attack and Lee was routinely the first to the point of attack.
LB Sean Lee (+4.6)
DE Jeremy Mincey (+3.2)
LT Tyron Smith (+2.5)
S Barry Church (+2.3)
CB Byron Jones (+1.9)
— The Eagles run game, or lack thereof, is a very real issue. The problem isn’t talent; it’s that the Cowboys knew exactly what was coming. The Eagles have run almost the same handful of running plays ever since Chip Kelly got there in 2013 and after seeing it four times the Cowboys had learned how to combat it. Dallas overloaded to the strong side of the formation, and the Eagles line had little chance against the fronts they saw. Two of their worst runs weren’t even the offensive line’s fault, actually, and were the result of whiffs from tight end Brent Celek (-4.6).
— Sam Bradford (-2.7) has not been the lights-out sensation some were predicting in the preseason. In fact, he’s been much the same player he was in the supposed quarterback ‘un’-friendly offense in St. Louis. He had a handful of misses and his forced interception at the goal line was an inexcusable error. Bradford simply couldn’t get much of anything going in the deep and intermediate ranges Sunday. He completed only 2-12 targets over 10 yards down the field.
— This Byron Maxwell (-1.7) is certainly not what the Eagles spent top dollar for in the free agent market. Even without having to match up with Dez Bryant, Maxwell couldn’t keep within striking distance of the Cowboys’ receivers. The most egregious error was the completely blown slant coverage which resulted in a 42-yard touchdown, but he was beaten multiple other times. The corner finished allowing six of nine targets for 86 yards and a touchdown.
DE Fletcher Cox (+3.3)
S Malcolm Jenkins (+1.7)
LG Allen Barbre (+1.7)
ILB Jordan Hicks (+1.2)
S Walter Thurmond (+1.0)