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Man Up: Appreciating Trent Cole

Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' defensive performance against the Cowboys, after having re-watched the game.

For those of you who didn't tune in, Dallas lost Tony Romo in the first quarter, but left the rest of their starters in for the entire game.

Jason Babin - No sacks for Babin. He's tied with DeMarcus Ware for second in the league with 18, behind Jared Allen, who has 18.5. Babin got pressure on Romo and Stephen McGee throughout the game though. He looped behind Mike Patterson and Casey Matthews (who was blitzing) to hit Romo and knock him out of the game in the first. Babin and Trent Cole pressured McGee, forcing him to flip it to Sammy Morris short of a first down on 3rd-and-25 in the second. His pressure off the edge helped lead to Derek Landri's sack in the fourth. And Babin pressured McGee on a third down in the fourth.

Cullen Jenkins - Decent game for Jenkins. His penetration led to Darryl Tapp dropping Morris for a 3-yard loss in the second. Jenkins lined up at left defensive end and dropped Morris for no gain on 3rd-and-1 in the third. His veteran presence and versatility is needed on this team in 2012.

Mike Patterson - He had a good game and has had a very good season, showing he can pressure the passer from defensive tackle in this scheme. Patterson dropped Felix Jones for no gain in the first; Chauncey Washington for a loss of 1 in the second; and Morris after a 2-yard run in the second. He pressured and hit McGee on a pass play in the fourth quarter and later forced McGee to scramble with pressure up the middle.

Trent Cole - In the fourth quarter, with under eight minutes left and the Eagles up 20-0, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-12. Cole made an inside move on Doug Free, but didn't really get near McGee, who dumped the ball off to Washington. Keenan Clayton had a chance to make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, but failed to do so. Jaiquawn Jarrett had a chance to bring Washington down short of the first-down marker, but couldn't make the tackle. Fifteen yards downfield, it was Cole, hustling from 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, who tackled Washington and forced him out of bounds. It's the kind of effort he brings every time he's on the field. Babin will get the offseason accolades, but Cole is finishing strong and has notched double-digit sacks for the fourth time in five seasons. He was an absolute beast in this one. Cole started off standing up and crushed McGee as he released an 11-yard completion to Dez Bryant. He and Babin pressured McGee, forcing him to dump it off to Morris short of a first down in the second. Cole later pressured McGee again, forcing him to dump it off to Morris in the second. And he got to the quarterback on a 3rd-and-13 in the second. Great read, great tackle by Cole, dropping Morris for a 9-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 in the second. Great hustle to bring down Morris downfield after an 8-yard gain in the third. He beat Free for his 10th sack of the season in the third. He forced McGee out of the pocket with pressure up the middle on a third down in the fourth. And he pressured McGee out of the pocket on fourth down in the fourth.

Juqua Parker - The veteran likely will be gone in 2012, but he's finishing strong. Parker lined up at defensive tackle and looped around Babin to pressure McGee into an incompletion late in the second. He started at left defensive end, came inside on a stunt and sacked McGee on a third down in the third.

Derek Landri - He used a nice spin move to sack McGee in the fourth. Landri needs to be re-signed as part of the defensive tackle rotation for 2012.

Philip Hunt - Good game for Hunt. He pressured McGee from left defensive end and forced him to scramble in the second. He drew a holding penalty on Tyron Smith in the second. Hunt and Tapp pressured and hit McGee on a first-down play in the second. And he hit McGee again on a pass play in the fourth. It'll be interesting to see how Hunt fits into the DE picture in 2012. Babin and Cole are the starters. It could be Hunt, Tapp and Brandon Graham fighting for two spots. Graham likely has the edge for one of them, assuming he's healthy.

Darryl Tapp - He and Hunt hit McGee on a first-down play in the second. And Tapp dropped Morris for a 3-yard loss in the second. He's been productive this season when healthy.

Jamar Chaney - Chaney was OK. He got blocked on Jones' 10-yard run in the first and couldn't make a play on Jones' 8-yard run later in the quarter. Chaney tackled Morris after a 3-yard gain in the first. Ideally, the Eagles will upgrade at middle linebacker, and Chaney can serve as a versatile backup in 2012.

Brian Rolle - Good game for Rolle, who played in the base and some in the nickel. Nice read, nice hit on Morris, dropping him for a 5-yard loss on a screen in the second quarter. Rolle stuffed the fullback after a 1-yard gain on 2nd-and-2 in the third. He made a good break on the ball and nearly had an interception on a pass attempt to Jason Witten in the fourth. In the second, Rolle got blocked to the ground by Free on a 7-yard Morris run. He has to be considered the favorite to start at the WILL position in 2012.

Akeem Jordan - Jordan's played pretty well the past two weeks. Good coverage, good hit on the fullback to force an incompletion in the first. Jordan tackled Morris after a 2-yard gain in the second, and he tripped up Morris for no gain in the third. Early on, Jordan was thrown to the ground by Martellus Bennett on Jones' 6-yard run. He'll have to fight for a roster spot in 2012 and is best suited for a backup/special teams role.

Casey Matthews - He's put together back-to-back good games. Matthews blitzed up the middle in the second and got pressure on McGee. He made a good tackle on Morris, stopping him after a 6-yard completion on 3rd-and-25. Matthews tackled Morris after a 5-yard gain on a draw in the fourth. Good coverage on Witten on a fourth-quarter incompletion. He stuck with Witten again and tackled him after a 1-yard completion in the fourth. The mishaps? He slipped in coverage, allowing Bennett to get open for an 11-yard completion in the second. And he missed a tackle on Witten late in the fourth. Based on the past two games, it looks like he can be effective in a specialized role.

Keenan Clayton - Clayton played well also. He was the dime linebacker late in the second quarter and did a good job on Bennett. Clayton dropped Washington for a 2-yard loss after a catch in the fourth. And he had good coverage, helping to force an incompletion to Bennett in the fourth. Clayton had a chance to bring Washington down behind the line of scrimmage on a third down, but couldn't make the play.

Nnamdi Asomugha - Strong game for Asomugha, who is still being used in a variety of ways. He spent part of the afternoon on Witten and shut him down. Asomugha had good coverage on Witten on the play where Romo got injured. He tripped up Bennett after a gain of 3 on a tight end screen in the first. He tackled Witten after a 6-yard gain on 3rd-and-15. Great coverage on Bryant on a second-quarter incompletion near the sidelines. Good coverage on Witten when the Eagles were in dime in the second. Asomugha tackled Morris in run support after a 3-yard gain. Good tackle on Bryant after a 5-yard completion in the fourth. He was beat by Bryant for a 9-yard gain on 4th-and-5 in the fourth. Asomugha lined up as a safety in the second, but whiffed on his tackle after McGee flipped the ball to Morris for a short gain. Overall, he played very well though.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - Pretty good game for Rodgers-Cromartie too, filling in for Asante Samuel at left cornerback. He tackled Jones after a 6-yard run in the first. Good coverage, good play to break up a pass for Bryant in the end zone in the second (the Cowboys were called for a holding penalty on the play). It looked like he got beat by Laurent Robinson on a deep ball in the third, but McGee made a bad throw. He lost Austin when McGee escaped the pocket and found the wide receiver for a 19-yard gain in the second. But that's one of those plays where the Cowboys deserve credit for making something happen.

Joselio Hanson - Overall, Hanson played well in the slot. He dropped Austin for no gain on a wide receiver screen in the third and had good coverage on him on a third down in the fourth. Hanson broke up a pass intended for Austin in the end zone in the fourth. In the second, he got beat by Austin for 17 yards on 3rd-and-13 and again on the touchdown late in the fourth.

Brandon Hughes - He played about seven snaps by my count. Hughes was on the field in dime and got beat by Bryant for 11 yards on 3rd-and-5. He played left cornerback on one snap when Rodgers-Cromartie was out in the second. And he lined up at right cornerbaack when Asomugha was on Witten.

Curtis Marsh - He played one snap by count, on the second-to-last defensive play of the game.

Nate Allen - This had to be one of his best games of the year, which is a good sign looking ahead to 2012. Allen made a nice read and a nice hit on Jones to force an incompletion in the first. Good read, good hit on Morris, dropping him for no gain after a dumpoff by McGee in the second. He made a good hit on Austin on a third-down incompletion in the third. And Allen did a good job of helping Hanson on a third-down incompletion in the fourth. Allen did a good job in coverage on Witten in the end zone late in the fourth. And he broke up a pass intended for Bryant in the third. Very active throughout the game.

Kurt Coleman - He didn't play in the second half because of an injury. In the second quarter, Coleman lost Bryant on a 14-yard completion. That's really the only time I noticed him.

Jaiquawn Jarrett - He played the second half after Coleman left the game. Jarrett had a chance to bring down Washington short of the first down in the fourth, but missed the tackle. One of the biggest questions going forward is: Can Jarrett make enough offseason progress to be an effective, reliable starter in 2012? If not, the Eagles need to look to add a veteran.

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