New-look Eagles have date with Dallas Cowboys

No more licking their wounds, the Birds just need to go out and win over the final eight games.

Tough test: The Eagles need to stop Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Source: Andy Lewis / Contrast Photography

By Al Thompson

If the Eagles (4–4) defeat the Dallas Cowboys (3–5) this Sunday night (NBC, 8:20 p.m.) at the Linc, and the Washington Redskins lose on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Birds would be tied for the lead in the NFC East. Each team would be 2–0 in division play.

No one wants to see good players injured, but Washington on Monday announced that starting guard Shawn Lauvao, starting wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. and Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff were placed on Injured Reserve. All are lost for the season.

The Los Angeles Rams (8–1) finally lost and have a tough schedule coming up, so do the Carolina Panthers (6–2) and Green Bay Packers (3–4–1). The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings each have three losses.

The New Orleans Saints (7–1) look tough, but the Eagles can find out where they are with their NFC rivals on Nov. 18 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The season is really in front of the defending Super Bowl champions.

No more licking their wounds, the Birds just need to go out and win over the final eight games.

It was obvious during the Saints’ 45–35 win over the Rams, the Eagles are going to have to score points in bunches to get into the playoffs and possibly earn a №1 or №2 seed.

The Eagles helped themselves on that front when Howie Roseman pulled off a last-minute trade with the Detroit Lions, acquiring Pro Bowl receiver Golden Tate for a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft

Originally a second-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 (60th overall), Tate has caught 581 passes for 6,936 yards (11.9 avg.) and 37 touchdowns during his nine-year career. He has added 28 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns in nine postseason games.

In 2013, Tate helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII. Then Tate signed a five-year contract with the Lions. During his first season in Detroit (2014), Tate was named to the Pro Bowl after logging career highs in receptions (99) and receiving yards (1,331).

In Detroit’s first seven games in 2018, Tate had 44 catches for 517 yards (11.8 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Nelson Agholor talked about how, with receivers Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins out with injuries, defenses could cheat a little bit on coverages and take away some plays from him and Alshon Jeffery. With the acquisition of Tate, that will be more difficult to do.

“Now when you bring in a guy like Golden Tate, who is a very good player in this league, people are going to have to respect us,” Agholor said at his locker Monday. “I think it is going to be a positive thing for the whole (receiver) group.”

Agholor was asked if he was concerned this move was a signal that the coaching staff was unhappy with his play.

“I am going to continue to be the best player I can be,” said Agholor, who has 41 catches for 371 yards and one touchdown this year. “So that they can utilize me to make plays. If anything, having a guy like him on my team is only going to increase my advantage. I’m a student of the game. If there’s things he can do that I don’t have in my game right now, I’m going to learn from it. I’m going to add that to my game and get better.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh was asked about all the weapons he now has for Carson Wentz to use, including Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz.

“You need a lot of weapons, for sure,” Groh said Monday. “You’ve got to spread people out and kind of make them choose a little bit in how they want to try to defend you. When you’ve got a complement on the other side of the field that they’ve always got to be aware of, that makes you a lot harder to defend. We think that his [Golden Tate] skill set is certainly very complementary to the guys that we already had, and we’ve just got to try to work him into it.”

Tate is a former running back known for what he does after he catches the ball. His yards after the catch are a dimension the Birds think they really needed to make a run.

“He’s extremely competitive, and he’s got excellent play strength, and I think we all know and are aware of his statistics after he gets the ball in his hands,” Groh said. “We’re excited about that dimension that he brings. But he’s a really competitive guy and I think that he fits nicely and complements the guys that we already have in the huddle.”

The Eagles will get a chance to show off their new look Sunday in what will be the first of eight must-win games.

The Cowboys have had their share of key injuries, losing All-Pro center Travis Frederick during training camp to an autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barre. His status for the rest of the season is still unknown.

On Monday, oft-injured linebacker Sean Lee re-injured his hamstring. It is not known if he will be able to play Sunday.

The Cowboys still have quarterback Dak Prescott and Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Prescott comes in hitting 63 percent of his passes with 10 touchdown passes and five interceptions. He has been sacked 28 times after eight games.

The Eagles will focus on stopping Elliott, who has 149 carries for 680 yards and three touchdowns.

Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill talked about what the third-year running back does well.

“He’s good at reading gaps,” Grugier-Hill said. “We have to hold our gap control and stay disciplined.”

He was asked if it’s wise to intentionally go after an opponent’s weaknesses. In the Cowboys’ case, it is their offensive line, once considered among the best in the NFL.

“No, you just play,” said Grugier-Hill, who has 24 tackles, three for losses, one interception and a defended pass after eight games. “We don’t like those guys anyway. We just go out there and just smash them no matter who’s in the game.”

The Eagles are a shadow of themselves with regard to causing turnovers. Last week against Tampa Bay in London, rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox came up with a crucial turnover. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked what that meant for the team.

“Yeah, that gave us a spark right there at the end of the first half,” Schwartz said Monday. “And getting them — some takeaways sort of just happen. There’s some that you earn. I thought that was one that was earned. He did a good job of cutting his coverage. He did a good job of getting through that tackle. Again, I’d sort of like to see us — I think the next step for us is multiple turnovers, and then probably the next step after that is getting back in the end zone. We haven’t been in the end zone after being in the end zone a bunch last year.”

Agholor is ready to make a run.

“Shoot, the momentum has started right now,” Agholor said. “We’ve got to get ourselves ready to go…new season…you’ve got an eight-game run. Let’s get ready.” ••