The Cowboys have a road trip to one of the more hostile stadiums this week when they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seahawks. For those counting at home, the Seahawks are 0-2 and a big reason for that is the fact that their quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 times. Those sacks are split evenly between their first two opponents in the Broncos and Bears. The Bears currently lead the league with 10 sacks but the Dallas Cowboys are right behind them with nine sacks after they brought Eli Manning down six times on Sunday Night Football.
Face facts, there is a ton of bad offensive line play around the league. The Cowboys allowed their quarterback to take six sacks in week one, so they aren’t exempt though they allowed zero on Sunday night. The Seahawks offensive line may actually be even worse at protecting their quarterback than the Giants were this past week. Seattle is allowing a sack 14.81% of the time they are on offense, that’s over double their 2017 output of 7.19%.
This should be great news for the “Hot Boyz”, the nickname that DeMarcus Lawrence has given his fellow defensive linemen. Lawrence was just one of six different defensive players to sack Eli Manning on Sunday. That’s what’s so different about this Cowboys pass rush. You never know who’s coming after your quarterback and when they blitz, they’re getting home. Eight different players on the Cowboys have sacks with Lawrence being the only guy with two. Three of those sacks come from two linebackers and a safety. It’s established, this defense gets to the quarterback, which is bad news for the Seahawks.
Sure, it’s going to be tough going up to Seattle and coming out with a ‘W’ against an 0-2 desperate team. However, this isn’t your same Seahawks team that has beaten the Cowboys in two of their last three meetings. This Seahawks team still has Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin,Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Earl Thomas, and we can’t forget head coach Pete Carroll.
However, Doug Baldwin is dealing with a partial tear in his MCL with no definitive timetable for return. That means that the biggest wide receiver threats are 34-year-old Brandon Marshall, and Tyler Lockett, a speedster. Tight end Will Dissly actually leads the squad in receptions. Russell Wilson is only completing 59.4% of his passes, while throwing well over 30 times per game. Now, Wilson does have 524 passing yards in two games with five touchdown passes, but he’s also got three picks, one of which was housed by the Bears on Monday night. That’s an interception percentage of 4.3, which is seventh-highest in the NFL.
What about the powerful rushing game that Seattle used to boast? It’s almost non-existent, first-rounder Rashaad Penny has 17 attempts for 38 yards, zero touchdowns, and a 2.2 YPC. The starter, if you want to call it that, Chris Carson is better with 13 attempts for 75 yards and 5.8 YPC. Russell Wilson himself has a 4.4 YPC on five carries for 22 yards. The Seahawks are averaging 69 yards per game on the ground and face off against a Cowboys team that allowed 35 rushing yards last week.
On defense, it’s quite simple for the Cowboys, the “Hot Boyz” just need to keep doing what they’re doing. It’ll be a little bit harder on the linebackers who will have to contain Russell Wilson, he still has that rare ability to beat teams almost single-handedly. This is a huge game for guys like Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson. If they contain Wilson, it’s going to put even more pressure on an outmatched offensive line. With a secondary that bottled up a better receiving corps last week, it’s just about staying disciplined.
The Seahawks are the worst in the NFL in terms of drives on offense, they average a league-worst 4.5 plays per series and the average drive is less than two minutes long. They are at the bottom of the league in rushing and passing except they are sixth in the NFL with five touchdown passes. That tells you that they live on the occasional big play, something the Cowboys defense is dedicated to stopping. The defensive line and linebackers for Dallas will need to bring the heat once again. If they do, more good news is that Seattle is third-worst with 18.5% of their drives ending in a turnover, three picks, and three fumbles.
Quickly, let’s touch on the Cowboys offense, who looked better but still has plenty of work to do. Can the offense just do enough in this game to walk out with a win? It starts with protecting Dak Prescott where they are in luck that Seattle’s defense only has three sacks. Frank Clark is their best pass rusher by a mile so they must keep an eye on him. Though Wagner and Wright are two outstanding linebackers, both are questionable dealing with knee and groin injuries. This may be a game where the Cowboys can run the ball a bit more efficiently because the Seahawks don’t have the beef at defensive tackle that the past two opponents have had.
Seattle is giving up 116 rushing yards per game, tenth-worst in the NFL. On the flip side, the Cowboys are averaging 116 rushing yards per game, 11th-best in the league. It’s a good day for the Cowboys to take the air out of Century Link by wearing down their defense with a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The one area where the Cowboys have to be careful is with the Seahawk’s secondary, they have five picks between three players. Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald, and Shaquille Griffin will take the ball away if Prescott isn’t careful.
With that said, they have to attack Seattle’s secondary. Seattle’s defensive backs take chances and their pass defense ranks 19th in the NFL, giving up over 250 passing yards per game. The Cowboys, so far, haven’t been a good passing team with so many new faces in the lineup. As bad as the Seahawks offense ranks among the league, the Cowboys are also down there in some offensive categories. It’s time for the quarterback and receivers to get on the same page because these Cowboys coaches preach balance.
It really is going to come down to the Cowboys defense doing what they have been able to do in the first two weeks. It’s a rinse and repeat for the “Hot Boyz” with so many similarities to last week, with the major difference being Russell Wilson, and his mobility. Make no mistake, Wilson will be the best quarterback they have faced on the young season and despite him being brought down 12 times, the Seahawks have been in every game into the fourth quarter. Just keep in mind that this quarterback they are facing isn’t a sitting duck, they will have to work for those sacks.