Same Old Same Old?

Vinny Testaverde doesn't anticipate new-look Philadelphia defense. <BR>

When the Cowboys and Eagles met Nov. 15 at Texas Stadium, Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb and WR Terrell Owens put on a show in a 49-21 Philadelphia victory. McNabb hit Owens with three touchdown passes (and threw another to wideout Todd Pinkston) in a game that was decided by halftime. The Cowboys spent most of the game just trying to "play catch-up."

Head coach Bill Parcells spoke Thursday about the Philadelphia offense, which still is anchored by McNabb and Owens -- who Parcells said remains arguably the best receiver in the league. But he also spoke of the progress made by RB Brian Westbrook (No. 8 in the NFL with 764 rushing yards and tied for ninth in the league with 54 points on nine touchdowns), as well as the progress made by WR Freddie Mitchell and TEs L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis.

When the teams met before, Philadelphia had the more balanced offense; McNabb's aerial display was complemented by 149 rushing yards, including 73 by Dorsey Levens and 56 by Westbrook. The Cowboys, on the other hand, got 254 passing yards from QB Vinny Testaverde, but managed just 71 yards on the ground, led by just 39 from Eddie George.

The Eagles were able to drop back into pass coverage, daring the Cowboys to run the ball and limiting the downfield damage by Testaverde.

Since then, the Cowboys have received a huge boost to the offense with the emergence of rookie RB Julius Jones, who has 533 rushing yards this season, despite missing seven games because of a broken shoulder blade.

Nevertheless, Testaverde said he doesn't expect Philadelphia to re-vamp its defense to account for Jones.

"I don't think so," Testaverde said. "You look at the success the Eagles have had. Why would they change?"

The Eagles garnered headlines across the country in the offseason for the additions of WR Terrell Owens and DE Jevon Kearse, but equally important to the Philadelphia defense has been the return of LB Jeremiah Trotter after a two-year stint in Washington and the emergence of CBs Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown as more-than-adequate replacements for departed secondary stalwarts Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, who left the Eagles as free agents in the offseason. While Kearse might be the biggest name on the Philadelphia defense, Testaverde said the entire unit has been effective all year for the 12-1 Eagles.

"They're playing good football," Testaverde said. "Why change what works?"

Testaverde said that the Eagles naturally will be aware of Jones, who was on the sideline with his injured shoulder the last time the teams met, but that he doesn't expect them to make drastic changes to their defensive schemes because of Jones.

"They've faced the Giants, with Tiki (Barber) -- they've faced a lot of good backs," Testaverde said. "They'll look at Julius -- they know he's a good back. But it's not like having him means we're playing with a 12th guy. They'll account for him. But with the success they're having, I don't think they'll change much."

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