The #LetRussCook movement is alive and well, and the Dallas Cowboys defensive players are going to have their hands full trying to contain the leading MVP candidate through two weeks.
If you haven’t figured out yet where the Cowboys defensive focus should be, let me make it a little clearer. The Cowboys #1 focus should be Russell Wilson, but you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. The #LetRussCook movement on twitter is getting what they wanted from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The Cowboys better hope that Shottenheimer will, for some unknown reason, revert back to his past form for this team by leaning on Chris Carson instead one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League.
Limiting the Seahawks in the red zone
Again, the keyword for today is “limit”. The Cowboys must limit the Seahawks in the red zone. A field goal here, a field goal there is fine, but they can’t allow the Seahawks to continue on the trend they are currently on of scoring touchdowns on 100% of their red zone trips so far in 2020. A lot of that starts with keeping Wilson in the pocket and not allowing him to pick up chunk yardage, and converting on third downs with his legs - which is easier said than done. The second is forcing the football out of Wilson’s hands as soon as possible, because if he’s given time, in a clean pocket, you can pretty much guarantee something positive will come from that play.
While Chris Carson’s usage has started to fall off with Wilson taking more control of the offense, he can still be effective in the condensed areas of the field, and in certain situations. Carson has only 23 carries so far in two games, and has yet to find the endzone on the ground, but does have three receiving touchdowns, something he’s developed into his game over the last year or so. Carson’s impact as a receiver seems to be more consistent inside the red zone than in between the 20’s, but you could see Shottenheimer trying to get Carson matched up with Jaylon Smith in man-coverage in key situations.
Covering DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett
Whether it’s DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, David Moore, or (wait for it) Freddie Swain, Wilson has moved the ball around the field with ease to all of his wideouts so far in 2020. This will be the Cowboys biggest struggle in week three. If the Cowboys front four continues to struggle to apply consistent pressure, their secondary will pay, and it could get ugly rather quickly.
With Trevon Diggs dealing with a banged up shoulder, and Chidobe Awuzie hurt and Anthony Brown on IR, the Cowboys will rely on a banged up rookie (Diggs), Jourdan Lewis, who is coming off one of his worst performances in recent memory, Daryl Worley, and Brandon Carr to cover these Seahawk receivers who look to be one of the best one-two punches in the NFC. As we mentioned in the opening, Brian Shottenheimer has given Russell Wilson the keys, something they didn’t do for some reason until this season. The Seahawks pass early, they pass often, they pass efficiently, and they have to be in love with their matchup against the Cowboys secondary in week two.
*attempts new psychological warfare tactic*— Cowboys Stats & Graphics (@CowboysStats) September 24, 2020
So the Cowboys are really gonna roll over and let Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones outpass them this year? Interesting pic.twitter.com/8Lx7PYWqIj
If there was ever a week for the Cowboys pass rush to show up, this would be a great opponent to do it against. Wilson is tied for the fourth most sacked quarterback in the NFL through two weeks with five sacks taken. And while Wilson is very careful with the football, he has a bad tendency of taking sacks, which could do the Cowboys defense some massive favors if their front four can get home and their corners can cover long enough to allow them to do so.
Duane Brown is Seattle’s top graded lineman according to Pro Football Focus, grading out as the fifth-best offensive tackle. PFF also really likes rookie guard Damien Lewis, who is graded as the 10th best offensive guard, but from watching tape, he’s a guy that is rather inconsistent. The other three starters aren’t viewed as kindly as Brown and Lewis. Mike Lupati, the starting left guard, is graded as the 40th guard out of 70 eligible guards. Ethan Pocic, the starting center is graded as the 24th center out of 34 eligible centers, and last but not least Brandon Shell, the starting right tackle is graded as the 50th tackle out of 71 total tackles.
With Duane Brown still playing at a high level, it could be a slow day for whoever is lining up at right end, but if DeMarcus Lawrence, Everson Griffen, and the rest of the gang lining up at left end can’t win their fair-share of reps, we all really need to reevaluate our expectations of this defensive front.
Sunday will be a shoot-out, there’s no way getting around it. With both defenses banged up, and struggling in the early portions of the season, the game will be decided on which quarterback can find more success targeting the other’s suspect secondary. Can Dak Prescott go toe-to-toe with one of the best? We’ll find out.