Are The Dallas Cowboys Doomed To Repeat History?

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Are The Dallas Cowboys Doomed To Repeat History?
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It was right around this time last year that speculation began to swirl about the future of Donovan McNabb.

Media members and fans alike believed that when McNabb strapped on the pads against the Cowboys in the final regular season game of the 2008 season it could be his last game as a Philadelphia Eagle.

The Eagles were fresh off a 10-3 loss to the Washington Redskins and a shot at advancing into the postseason looked bleak as the Eagles offense sputtered in the Nation's Capital. Andy Reid dialed up the run 16 times and asked McNabb to toss around the pigskin 46 times.

Meanwhile, the defense struggled against the run and failed to force Jason Campbell into making any costly decisions.

While the Eagles were floundering around on the road the Cowboys split their final two regular season games at Texas stadium and Tony Romo looked like he was ready to buck the December blues as he put up some decent stats.

It all set up for a playoff-like regular season game where the winner was sent into the playoffs and the loser was sent to the first-tee.

Surprisingly, the Eagles offense was efficient as they ran the ball 36 times and attempted only 21 passes.

The old Romo reared his ugly head, threw one interception and fumbled twice.

Inexplicably, the Eagles found themselves up 27-3 at halftime, and playoff bound.

Everyone who witnessed the beatdown was in a state of shock. Eagles fans could not believe they saw their team playing this well and the Cowboys fans could not comprehend how everything could go wrong.

Fast forward the tapes to this week and the situation is nearly identical.

Rumors are rampant that Saturday night's clash between the hated division rivals will mark the final game of McNabb's career as an Eagle.

Similar to last year, the loser will go home while the winner gets to play at least one more week and keep their dream alive for a run at the Super Bowl.

Last year's showdown with the 'Boys saw an Eagles offense come off an embarrassing offensive performance that resulted in no touchdowns. Once again, the Eagles were not balanced on offense the week before as they only ran the ball five times in the first half and 10 times for the game. McNabb was asked to chuck it around 36 times in a futile effort.

Romo is putting up great numbers, leading his team down the field, and not seen as a liability.

So why can't the outcome on Saturday night be the same as the regular season finale last year?

On the surface, this game is setting up just like last year. But once you dig a little deeper, you will see some major differences.

The most obvious is that this game is being played in Dallas, which obviously gives an edge to a Cowboys team that holds a 6-2 record when playing in front of the home crowd.

How about the fact that the late Jim Johnson is not on the sideline for the Eagles? Sean McDermott may be a good defensive coordinator, but he is certainly not on the same level as Johnson.

And while McDermott is not at that level, he has also been hindered by a lack of personnel.

The absence of Stewart Bradley and Brian Dawkins is huge right now. Those two players allowed the Eagles to be effective against the run and could limit the oppositions' tight ends.

And while Dawkins was not great in coverage, he was more than capable in providing quality safety help over the top on blitzes. As it stands right now, Quintin Mikell, Sean Jones, and Macho Harris might as well be invisible when it comes to safety help.

Without a capable blitz, the Eagles can't force Romo into mistakes and without the blitz the Eagles' defense loses their identity.

What about the Cowboys offensively?

Terrell Owens is not around to get into Romo's head. Without T.O., Miles Austin has been given the chance to shine and he is proving he can be clutch.

Defensively, the Cowboys don't have stiffs like Tank Johnson getting in the way. They have studs like Jay Ratliff wreaking havoc in the pass and run game.

The Eagles offensive line is in a shambles compared to last year, DeSean Jackson is battling a groin injury, which limits his speed, and Brian Westbrook is not the player he once was.

McNabb looks like he would rather deflect blame instead of graciously accepting the opportunity to prove he can win when everyone is saying that he can't.

With so many differences beneath the surface, it is hard to imagine a favorable outcome this time around for the Eagles.

 

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