Behind Enemy Lines - Part 2

Ranch Reports Roy Philpott asked Chris Steuber eight questions regarding tonight's huge Cowboys/Eagles matchup. Steuber discusses the health of Brian Dawkins, Andy Reid's sons off the field situation and how it is affecting the team, and the play of Donovan McNabb. All of this and more inside...

Roy Philpott: What's the story on Donovan McNabb? Is he close to 100 percent and can he lead the Eagles out of the cellar in the NFC East this season?

Chris Steuber: McNabb played a lot better last week against Minnesota, but he’s not 100-percent yet. He’s getting close, but he still doesn’t have the explosion he used to have. I’ve seen defensive tackles track him down from behind; that never happened when McNabb was completely healthy. I think he’s finally getting his legs back and is displaying a smoother throwing motion that he was earlier in the year. This is a huge game. If the Eagles have any hopes of getting out of the basement in the NFC East they have to win against Dallas this weekend. If the Eagles lose there season is over, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see rookie QB Kevin Kolb get a chance to play.

Philpott: Will the distractions with Andy Reid's sons this week impact Sunday's game in any way?

Steuber: I think it almost has too. Any man knows that family comes first - and with both of Reid’s oldest sons in jail – it has to be on his mind. Reid had a press conference on Friday and made a public address regarding the situation with his sons. He didn’t elaborate on the sentencing and just thanked everyone for the kind words that have been said. Even though this is a huge game for his team and their playoff hopes, you have to think his mind will be somewhere else.

Philpott: Are Eagles fans still bitter about the departure of Terrell Owens or are they just glad he's gone?

Steuber: I think they’ve moved on, but I think a part of them would have liked to have seen the marriage between the Eagles and Owens work out. T.O. was an outstanding player here and he was beloved in Philly. If he played his cards right while he was here, he would have been the most popular athlete in Philadelphia history.

Brian Dawkins
Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

Philpott: What's the latest with Brian Dawkins? Is he healthy enough to play this weekend and can he be effective given he hasn't played in over a month?

Steuber: The latest on Dawkins is he’s going to play. I don’t know how effective he’s going to be, because anytime a player suffers an injury that injects fear into you mentally, you don’t play the same. The biggest obstacle for Dawkins will be the first hit he delivers and how he feels after that contact. If he comes away from it hyped up and feeling good, I think he’ll be fine and play a great game.

Philpott: Would you rather see a low-scoring, defensive affair Sunday night or a shootout? Which kind of game would benefit the Eagles the most?

Steuber: A defensive game would suit the Eagles much better. The Eagles offense can be explosive at times, but they’ve been too inconsistent this season to even hope for a shootout. I think if the Eagles get into a shootout with the Cowboys, it will be the worst thing that could happen. The Eagles defense has been playing really well this season, and I think they can hold the Dallas offense in check. But the Cowboys offense is high powered and can strike at any time. The Eagles offense hasn’t shown that ability except for their 56-point mirage against the Lions during Week 3.

Philpott: Is Andy Reid starting to take any heat from the fans for the 3-4 start?

Steuber: I think the fans have been supportive of Reid because of the turmoil he’s faced with his family. But I think the fans want a resolution. If that resolution is Reid stepping down or McNabb finally becoming the player he can be; something has to happen. I don’t think you can put all the blame on Reid, but obviously as the head coach he’s going to get the most heat.

Philpott: Do you believe the NFC East is the toughest division in the NFL this year?

Steuber: It’s one of them, but the AFC South is pretty tough as well. Indianapolis is 7 – 1, but the Titans and Jaguars are playing great with 5 – 2 records. The NFC East is always tough, but this year all the teams except for the Eagles are having success. I think the Eagles have a chance to rebound, but it’s going to be tough for them to make up for the losses they’ve already suffered within the division.

Philpott: What is the biggest key for Philadelphia winning this game?

Steuber: The Eagles defensive line has to get in the face of Tony Romo and defend the run against the Cowboys in order to win. Romo is the key to the Cowboys success. If the Eagles apply pressure on Romo and get him out of his comfort zone they have a chance to win. Trent Cole is a player that the Cowboys will have to be aware of, as he leads the NFL with nine sacks. I expect Cole to continue his great play against the Cowboys this week and get in the face of Romo.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.



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