Eagles' tempo concerns Cowboys' defense

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of worries when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles offense.

There is LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles running the ball. There are wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews. There are tight ends Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey.

Mark Sanchez has thrown for 300 yards in each of his three starts.

But it’s more than just the personnel. It’s the tempo at which Philadelphia plays that worries the Cowboys most. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli went with a basketball comparison.

“You remember Loyola-Marymount with coach (Paul) Westhead, that pace?” Marinelli said. “They just run the pace and run their system, run the pace and run the system with speed. That’s something we’ve kind of believed in on defense. We’ve got to align, get set, get ready to get our feet in the ground and we have to play fast. So we’ve got to match that. The challenge is there.”

The Cowboys performed rather well against the Eagles last year, but the short week has made it difficult to simulate the speed of play in practice. The Cowboys were not in pads all week, going through mostly jog-through sessions. They used multiple huddles with the scout-team offenses to get the defense prepared, running one play and then turn around to face the next play in a matter of seconds.

The New York Giants had success against the Cowboys last week with a no-huddle attack, but Eli Manning was calling plays at the line of scrimmage and the pace of play was not drastically different.

“Philly gets up there and snaps it,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “The tempo is before the ball is snapped. We need to be lined up and ready to play when they come to the line of scrimmage.”

The Eagles average nearly 73 plays per game. The Cowboys’ defense was on the field a season-high 74 plays against the Giants and average 60.5 snaps per game.

“Now, they’ve got really good players and a challenging scheme,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They attack you a lot of different ways. Really just that basic element of 11 guys lined up the right way, everybody running the same defense, doing their job; that’s what gives you a chance to be successful against a team like this.”