PHILADELPHIA – The Dallas Cowboys offense doesn’t look much like the Seattle Seahawks offense. That doesn’t mean DeMarco Murray wasn’t good preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles as they try to stop Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch on Sunday.
Murray is 6-foot, 214 pounds. Lynch is 5-foot-11, 215 pounds. Both are physical, contact-seeking backs who will deliver hits as well as try to avoid them.
“Both those guys are big, look-for-contact guys,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “DeMarco Murray will put his shoulder down and run you over, too. So it’s nice that we’re facing those two big, downhill runners back to back. We know what it’s about. It takes a swarm tackle. You can’t tackle Marshawn with an arm. It’s got to be a full body, swarm tackle with all the effort to the ball. He’s a punishing runner, and we’ve got to be at our best to get him down.”
Murray is leading the NFL in rushing this season. He had topped 100 yards rushing in 10 of his first 11 games. The Eagles held him to a season-low 73 yards on Thanksgiving.
Lynch has been over 100 yards in just four games so far. The Seahawks are 3-1 in those games. Lynch ran for 124 yards in a 24-20 loss to Kansas City.
“Nobody runs the ball harder,” Davis said. “He comes downhill every play. He runs angry. He’s a talented back and he looks for contact. He’s going to get his yardage. He gets the hard yards, and he gets exactly what’s there every down.”
The Seahawks present a different challenge in other ways. Quarterback Russell Wilson is also a threat to run, and Seattle uses a read-option element in its offense. The Cowboys do not. But the Eagles offense is predicated on those same read-option principles, and Davis and his defense are familiar enough with that.
“We face it in practice every day,” Davis said. “So that’s a benefit to us. And then the coaches that we have are not only outstanding coaches on any scheme, but the read-option is part of what they know well.”
The Eagles’ defensive assistants have a lot of college coaching experience, unlike Davis.
“As an NFL lifer,” Davis said, “I haven’t had to have those discussions (about defending the read-option) a lot in my career.”
The Eagles defense has been effective against the run all season. San Francisco's Frank Gore is the only back to go over 100 yards against the Eagles this season.
“I think it’s a collective effort that starts with the (defensive) line in the way that they put their hands on people,” Davis said. “They strike with their hands. They’ve got a great understanding of controlling blocks and then shedding blocks. So when that front wall is built properly, like ours has really been built properly most of the year, then the rest of the guys fit into place after that.”