With just four hours till Monday Night Football kicks off, there are a number of questions that are still floating around the Eagles. From Andre Dillard hitting the stage front and center to Brandon Graham’s unfortunate injury, let’s get into what the Birds need to insert tonight in order to ensure their best chances of victory.
Can Andre Dillard Hold Down The Fort (And Show He Still Has Potential?)
With Jordan Mailata missing tonight’s start, it will be up to former first-rounder Andre Dillard to protect Jalen Hurts’s blindside.
This will be just Dillard’s fifth career start (his four others came in 2019), so this isn’t exactly familiar territory for the 25-year-old.
While it might not seem like it, Dillard’s play tonight has the potential to make quite the impact. Aside from the obvious, which is how the Eagles deal with oncoming pressure, Dillard could help spike up his trade value.
With the Eagles giving Mailata a hefty four-year extension and Lane Johnson locking down the right side, Dillard doesn’t have much of a future here, aside from being a backup. Decent production from Dillard tonight could entice teams to take a chance on him in a trade, which could help Philadelphia at least salvage the pick.
At the worst, decent play from Dillard ensures the Eagles have an average backup at left tackle, at least for the rest of this season.
Can Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, And Co. Rebound Against An Atrocious Dallas D?
In two games, the Cowboys have given up 48 points and 839 total yards. 612 of those yards are passing, which averages out to 346.0 passing yards/game, the worst in the NFL.
The Eagles have a golden opportunity laying in front of them, and they need Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith to capitalize on it.
While Hurts frequently targeted Smith in last week’s game, the two were unable to create any significant yardage and ended with rookie receiver having just 16 yards. We saw their potential to create big plays in week one, and that absolutely needs to happen again to night if they Eagles
Other Eagles have the opportunities to rebound as well. Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert both underwhelmed against the 49ers, and could see some upticks in yards given Dallas’ spotty coverage. Perhaps Zach Ertz could also see a return to his former self.
The bottom line is that with the Chiefs coming to town next week, the Eagles need to figure out their offense now, and this is the team to do it against.
How Will Eagles Defense and Josh Sweat Respond To Losing Brandon Graham In Emotional Game?
Losing Brandon Graham hurts. In addition to his stellar play, Graham also provided the defense with a leader who energized his teammates and rallied them to big stops against tough opponents.
Now, in an emotional game against an offense that’s averaging 435.0 yards a game, the second-best in the league, it will be interesting to see how Graham’s absence affects the Eagles’ defense in crunch time (and how they adapt to his loss).
Additionally, fans should be excited to see Josh Sweat get increased playing time. The young defensive lineman earned a three-year contract (deservedly so) and now has no one in front of him on the depth chart. Could a breakout season be coming?
How Will Nick Sirianni Do Against A Hated Division Opponent?
Nick Sirianni has spent the past few days hyping up Dallas Week in Philadelphia:
Nick Sirianni has on a “Beat Dallas” shirt.
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) September 23, 2021
Nick Sirianni has been building up magnitude of Eagles Cowboys rivalry
I’m told in team meeting last night, he showed a great video of the importance of beating Dallas narrated by some Eagles greats. And he showed clips of Eagles in college excelling in their rivalry games pic.twitter.com/6NzGEkQH8E
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 27, 2021
It’s fun to see a coach getting into a long-time rivalry against the team that every in the city despises with a passion like no other.
However, a t-shirt doesn’t ensure victory. Sirianni will need to be able to execute a solid game plan against the Cowboy’s voracious wide receiving duo of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, while also stuffing the run. A win tonight can go a long way towards a division title.