The Dallas Cowboys made it a priority to revamp their secondary during the offseason. It finally came a time for the front office to go out and upgrade a unit that struggled against the pass. After just one game, the results are looking positive.
New additions Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne look like they will have a major impact on the rest of the defense. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is now able to play man to man coverage on the outside and limit the big play deep. By playing that type of coverage, it allows Ryan to open up his playbook and become more creative in the way he schemes against the offense.
The team that the Cowboys will face this Sunday has also made it a priority to build their defense around a strong secondary.
Pete Carroll has built a young, but talented, secondary in Seattle. In 2011, his passing defense finished fourth in the NFL with 22 interceptions. This is the type of defense that can put the brakes on a good passing attack by taking the ball away.
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Finding The Right Personnel
When Carroll took over as the head coach in 2010, he began to change the personnel in his secondary when he drafted Texas safety Earl Thomas in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Thomas may be undersized, but due to his speed and playmaking ability, he can change your entire secondary.
Carroll also found Thomas a physical safety to pair up with when he took Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor in the fifth round of the same draft. The safety position is so hard to solidify in today's NFL, but Carroll managed to do it in just one draft.
The Seahawks then went to work at the cornerback position. He took a chance on former CFL player Brandon Browner. Browner is a physical cornerback that has great size, he was just a late bloomer and he finally put it all together in Seattle when he made the Pro Bowl last year.
Richard Sherman is another cornerback with size. Carroll landed another gem with the fifth-round draft pick from 2011. Sherman and Browner give the Seattle secondary physical cornerbacks with size who become a matchup problem on the outside.
Playing With An Attitude
Not only are the Seahawks stacked with talent in their secondary, but they are also beginning to feel more confident about their abilities. Earl Thomas feels that his secondary is putting in the hard work that is necessary to become the best.
"With us, I just think we're trying to be the best," Thomas said. "We compete with each other. We hold each other accountable and when you do that the bar is set high. We're going to play at a high level and we trust our preparation to go out there and ball."
I really haven't seen anyone talk about the Seattle secondary on a national level. Maybe that is due to the fact that the Seahawks don't have a large fan base outside of the Seattle, Washington area, but they should be talked about more.
The longer this defense plays together, the more they will begin to come together.
How Will The Cowboys Attack This Secondary?
For Jason Garrett and the Cowboys' offense, this may be one of the important decisions of the game. Watching our high powered offense go up against a secondary of this caliber will be a great test for Tony Romo and his receivers.
Dez Bryant and Miles Austin will probably see Browner and Sherman all game long. That will be interesting to watch because while Bryant and Austin are both physical receivers, both Browner and Sherman can match up with them quite well.
It comes down to how well our receivers can beat the press coverage that Seattle can play with their cornerbacks. Kevin Ogletree may become a key player in this game because he will probably be matched up on the aging Marcus Trufant. Ogletree will need to show the world that he isn't just a "flash player".
What about Tony Romo? Romo was nearly perfect last week against the New York Giants, so can we expect him to play that well on the road against a good Seattle secondary? If Romo replicates his performance from last Wednesday this Sunday, then it doesn't matter who is in the secondary, but it may be unrealistic to expect Tony to play like that every game.
It's important for Romo to make the right decisions and limit his mistakes. Whoever executes and wins their one on one battles will win this game. The cornerbacks may prevent Romo from getting into a rhythm with his wide receivers on quick routes, while the safeties could prevent Romo from airing it out deep this game.
For my money, the Seattle secondary versus the Dallas passing offense will be one of the highlights of this game. After this game is over, we should have a real good feel for what we have in our passing offense.
Part Two: The Seattle Crowd Noise Will Be A Huge Factor