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Cowboys News & Notes: Will Quality Of Offensive Lines Decide Cowboys Vs. Seahawks?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Okung injury increases chance Dallas pressures Seahawks; "Obvious mismatch" between the two offensive lines; barring a setback, Dez Bryant will play today.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Giant mismatch? It is Dallas Cowboys’ beef up front - Tod Milles, The News Tribune
Milles sees an obvious mismatch between the two offensive lines.

The Cowboys have invested $130 million total into their starting offensive line — with three first-round picks in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zach Martin. The Seahawks have invested $56.5 million total into their offensive line, made up of one first-rounder (left tackle Russell Okung), two former college defensive linemen (right guard J.R. Sweezy and center Drew Nowak) and a former college tight end (right tackle Garry Gilliam).

And what does that get you? The Dallas offensive line ranked No. 1 across the board last season, according to Pro Football Focus metrics. Even amid early season struggles this year — and a change in starting tailback — it still ranks as a consensus top-five rushing offensive line. According to Football Outsiders metrics, the Seattle offensive line ranks ninth in blocking in the run game. And it is dead last in pass protection, giving up an NFL-high 31 sacks.

Read more here:

Bruce Irvin ready for a 'dog fight' against Cowboys offensive line - Eric Mandel, 710 ESPN Seattle
Seattle's defense is expecting an intense battle at the line of scrimmage.

"We just gotta try to punch them in the mouth early and continue it throughout the game, but it won't be easy," Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin said on "Bob, Groz and Tom." "Those guys are battle-tested and got a lot of experience, so we've got to really take this week serious and focus and get ready for a dog fight Sunday."

The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and enter the matchup as the seventh-best rushing team. The line helped the injury-riddled squad generate 233 yards on the ground in last week's loss to the Giants.

"We feel like we are one of the top front-sevens in the league, and they feel like they got the top O-line in the league, so it's gonna be a battle," Irvin said.

What happened to the Giants' rush defense against the Dallas Cowboys? - James Kratch,
Tom Coughlin explains the benefits of a Cowboys offensive line that gashed the once-No. 1 Giants on the ground.

"By and large, they blocked us, and we've got to find a way, and they're a good offensive team, don't get me wrong, but we've got to do a better job of holding the point, of being where we're supposed to be from a gap responsibility, of recognizing the style run that's coming."

It was more than the Giants losing the battle at the line, though. The Cowboys had particular success running to the outside. Whether it was running back Darren McFadden (29-152-1), who was the Cowboys' featured back after Joseph Randle exited the game early with a back strain, or speedy receiver Lucky Whitehead (4-35) on jet sweeps and reverses, Dallas was explosive on the edge.

"We lost leverage on the corner consistently," Coughlin said. "McFadden did just run around us a few times. When he hit a couple of plays off-tackle, we were holding our breath there to try to get him down, particularly when he got started through the line of scrimmage."


Okung injury increases chance Dallas pressures Seahawks | Gregg Bell,
Russell Okung sprained his ankle in practice on Thursday. The Cowboys have blitzed less than almost every team in the NFL this season, but the Seahawks expect that to change today as the Cowboys try to take advantage of Okung's injury.

"Until we stop getting our quarterback hit, that's the world we live in. So it's up to us to do something about it," Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable said when asked if he expects Dallas to blitz like each of the Seahawks' first seven foes have.

"They are really game-specific in terms of what they are doing. They seem to have a wrinkle for every opponent," Cable said, further hinting Dallas will blitz more than usual. "So it will be imperative that we figure that out as the game goes."

Seahawks vs. Cowboys: 3 things to watch in Seattle's matchup with Dallas - Evan Hill, Field Gulls
Hill explains just how important Okung is for the Seahawks, and is not at all convinced about the quality of Okung's backup.

After initially being ruled as doubtful with a toe injury, Pete Carroll clarified Okung's status for Sunday as questionable. Regardless, Okung is far and away the best Seahawks' offensive lineman -- especially in pass protection. Alvin Bailey, on the other hand, is a straight liability, or was last week at right tackle, anyway.

If Okung plays, watch to see if this toe injury bothers him in pass or run protection. If Alvin Bailey plays, I hope you have booze by your side. Either way, the Seahawks offensive line can't take any more hits -- as they already lack competence in the position group. Watch the left tackle position tomorrow.

Four-step plan for Cowboys to beat Seahawks | Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
If only it were this easy.

What the Cowboys need to do against the Seahawks is what they did last year: Run the ball, play good D, take away deep ball and don't turn it over. Think they could do that. But not betting on it.


Stephen Jones: Barring a setback, Dez Bryant will play Sunday - Jared Dubin,
Dez returned to practice this week and looks all set to go for the first time since Week 1.

"We feel really good about [Dez playing]," executive vice president and COO Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan's Ben and Skin show (a CBS Sports Radio station), per the Dallas Morning News. "To say that he's full blast might be a stretch. ... I do think he's well enough that he can go in there and help us this weekend, and feel like he will do [that], barring any setbacks between now and the start of the game."

'Boys optimistic about Dez playing, will monitor snaps - Kevin Patra,
The Cowboys plan to monitor Bryant's snap count in his first game since back after injury.

Jason Garrett won't just toss his Pro Bowl receiver back into the deep end against the Legion of Boom.

"Any time a player hasn't played in a little while, you want to ease him back into the action to a certain extent," Garrett said Friday. "You can't ease him into the action on a play. You have to go full speed on every play, but you monitor how he's handling the work. With him or any guy, you're always just mindful of that."

That we are even talking about snap counts in Bryant's case is a positive sign for his availability Sunday afternoon in Seattle. With their season spiraling, the Cowboys need all the offensive weapons they can muster.

Expect Seahawks CB Richard Sherman to shadow Cowboys WR Dez Bryant - Sheil Kapadia, ESPN
Instead of covering his part of the field, Sherman has started traveling across the field with the opponent's top receiver.

Sherman has been asked about his role in the Seahawks' scheme in the past. He's often lined up solely at left cornerback, allowing opponents to move their top receivers to the other side to avoid him. Critics have knocked him for this on occasion, pointing out that some other top-level corners take on the opponents' most dangerous receiver every week.

The sense around the practice facility this week seemed to be that Sherman will shadow Dez Bryant, assuming the Cowboys' wide receiver returns from injury.


‘Boys’ Cassel conjures up a Seahawk nightmare - Steve Rudman, Sportspress Northwest
Five years ago, Cassel had an outstanding game against the Seahawks on Nov. 28, 2010 when he was playing for the Chiefs.

Cassel threw four touchdown passes, no interceptions and posted a 129.3 passer rating in Kansas City’s 42-24 victory at CenturyLink Field.

Seahawks, Cowboys set to play as unexpected 4-loss teams - Shuyler Dixon, KOMO News
Just eight weeks ago, the Cowboys and Seahawks were considered preseason NFC playoff contenders. Now both teams have four losses on their record, and the sense of urgency is palpable for both teams.

"We're fighting to get a win," Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr said. "They're in the same boat as us. We're both urgent in the same mindset of every single day throughout this week, just chip away one day at a time, leading up to Sunday."

"We're not thinking desperate and I'm sure they're not either," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. "I know we've had some tough losses, and I know they have had tough losses, too."


Then (1974) and Now (2015): A Four-Game Losing Streak - Matt Cordon, Know Your Dallas Cowboys
Cordon compares the 2015 team with the 1974 team that also lost four in a row. Although the Cowboys would finish the 1974 season with an 8-6 record, they missed the playoffs.


ESPN shutting down Grantland - CNN Money
Grantland, the ESPN web site held in high esteem by many discerning football fans, is being shut down, effective immediately.

An ESPN spokeswoman said the company remains "totally committed" to two of its other digital offshoots, FiveThirtyEight and The Undefeated. Those two were modeled after Grantland.

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