clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys Game Plan Week Six: Preparing For The Seattle Offense

Let's see what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli may do to account for the Seattle Seahawks offense in this upcoming game this Sunday afternoon.

Time for Anthony Spencer to shine.
Time for Anthony Spencer to shine.

The Dallas Cowboys currently are tied atop the NFL for the league's best record with the San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles. They are heading to Seattle for a showdown with a Seahawks team that has every team's number when they are visiting the Hawks at home. The crowd noise is legendary and can disrupt the opposing team's audibles and line calls. Let's look at what the Cowboys are facing against the Seahawks when the Cowboys are on defense.

Week Six

Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

Head Coach: Pete Carroll

Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell

Offensive Scheme: Combination of West Coast, Zone Runs and Play Action Pass

Projected Starters:

  • WR1 - Doug Baldwin - # 89
  • LT - Russell Okung - # 76
  • LG - James Carpenter - # 77
  • C - Max Unger - # 60
  • RG - J.R. Sweezy - # 64
  • RT - Justin Britt - # 68
  • TE - Zach Miller - # 86
  • WR2 - Percy Harvin - # 11
  • QB - Russell Wilson - # 3
  • FB - Derrick Colman - # 40
  • RB - Marshawn Lynch - # 24


In the game of football one of the key principles of a winning scheme or strategy is to keep the opposing side guessing. On the offensive side of the ball is done by staying balanced (pass 50%, run 50%), and sometimes running on obvious passing downs and sometimes passing on obvious running downs. The Seahawks add two additional elements to this mix that are missing on most other teams and that is...
  • Guessing when the quarterback is calling his own number, (taking off running) and
  • Guessing when will they run the zone read.
According to Davis Hsu over at Field Gulls, the basic offensive philosophy of Pete Carroll is a four point mirror-image of his defensive philosophy which also just happens to have four bullet points:
  1. Make Explosive Plays
  2. Be Balanced - Never One-Dimensional
  3. Protect the Ball
  4. Be Physical


What the Cowboys will have to do is outlined in the points below:

  1. Set the edge. Keep Wilson in the pocket and make him try to throw over the on-coming rushers.
  2. Maintain gap integrity. Do not over pursue and allow the cutback by Marshawn Lynch.
  3. Mix zone and man coverage. Do not become one-dimensional in the coverages. Keep Russell Wilson guessing what coverage is being used.
  4. Get pressure. With the increase in teams getting the ball out quick to avoid sacks at all costs, it becomes even more important than ever to keep Wilson in the pocket and insure you maintain even depth. If the rusher tries to loop around the tackle, Wilson will cut it up inside and take off running.
  5. The outside rushers must not crash down inside on the option read. They must rely on the interior defenders to do their job. Allowing Wilson to break contain is a back-breaker.


Let's take a look at one of Wilson's scrambles and see what is meant by maintain even depth and not looping around the tackle which puts you too deep.

Here in FIG 1 we see Ryan Kerrigan on the outside beginning to make his rush at the quarterback.

In FIG 2 we see that he is being blocked nicely by the RT Justin Britt and so far Kerrigan is doing what he is supposed to do. And that is to maintain the edge, ( don't let Wilson get outside of you ), and he is still in front of him.


But In FIG 3 we see that Kerrigan who was at the 36 has gone past the depth of where Wilson was and is now at the 31 because he wanted to loop around the RT. Notice that even though the Washington defenders are playing zone so they can keep their eyes on him, Wilson still has plenty of open green space in front of him and he takes off because Kerrigan is no longer in front or even with him.


And finally in FIG 4 we can see that Wilson is able to run to almost the 40-yard line before he slides and has a huge gain.



When teams play the Seahawks the natural tendencies is to do what the Washington Redskins did on defense and that is to play zone all the time. It is supposed to limit the amount of yards a scrambling/running quarterback can get because the defenders are usually facing the quarterback instead of having their backs to him when they are in man coverage. Well, last week Washington played zone almost exclusively and they still wound up allowing Wilson to run crazy for 122 yards.

Becoming one-dimensional on defense is one of the worst mistakes a defense can make. The main attribute of the '86 Bears defense was its ability to disguise its coverages. When a quarterback thinks it is zone and passes accordingly, but it was really man, or vice versa, that is when you get turnovers and the quarterback becomes hesitant and that can also lead to sacks.

Will the Cowboys defense make the same mistake the Washington Redskins made or will Rod Maranelli mix his coverages and keep the Seahawks honest and guessing?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys