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Cowboys vs Seahawks: ‘Third down on both sides of the ball for Seattle have been atrocious’

It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks look on Thursday.

NFL: AUG 26 Preseason - Seahawks at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys will host the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. To get ourselves ready, and a little more knowledgeable about the game, we spoke to our sister site, Field Gulls, about the state of the Seahawks. The Cowboys are currently 8.5-point favorites in the game according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Blogging The Boys: How has Geno Smith been overall this season, and is his elbow injury affecting his play recently?

Field Gulls: Smith has had moments where he’s looked great, and half of the six wins the team has recorded this season have come thanks to a late game drive to take the lead. However, he’s had just as many moments where he’s looked overwhelmed, and with more than a full season of tape on him opponents appear to have figured out how to slow down an offense when he is under center. Specifically, he struggles against pressure, and that has laid the foundation for a lot of the third down struggles on offense that are discussed in a later question.

Opponents have been happy to let the Seahawks do their thing on first and second down, and once third down hits it is time to apply pressure, either through the blitz or stunts up front. The offensive line is extremely inexperienced, and the group has struggled mightily to recognize and properly block stunting defenders, and that has led to a whole lot of pressure, hits and sacks on Geno this season.

It’s hard to tell how much the elbow injury his affecting his play because the offense as a whole was largely dysfunctional against the 49ers on Thanksgiving, much as it was in all three matchups against San Francisco in 2022. So, determining whether it was the elbow or was it the San Francisco defense that played a bigger part is hard to know. In addition, Smith’s accuracy has seemed off since injuring his ankle and knee against the Giants in Week 4, and with all of those factors put together it’s hard to really know what’s causing the biggest issues.

BTB: What are the strengths of this Seattle team?

FG: The throwback uniforms are - hands down, zero debate - the best uniforms in the league.

As for what they do well on the field, they have been so inconsistent this season that it’s hard to truly say. The run defense was great to start the year, until suddenly it wasn’t and now they can’t stop anyone. They started the season unable to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and then all of a sudden exploded for 11 sacks against the Giants, only to then watch the pass rush all but disappear when Uchenna Nwosu went on injured reserve. Some days they come out and can throw the ball all over the field to a wide variety of receivers, and on others they struggle to move the ball and twice already this month have been held without an offense touchdown. It really has been an up and down season for almost every facet of the team where they’ll be great at something one week and then completely forget how to do that same thing before the next game.

BTB: What are the weaknesses of this Seattle team?

FG: Third down on both sides of the ball have been atrocious this season. When they’re on offense, a very young, very inexperienced offensive line has failed to provide much protection for Geno Smith, who has not helped the situation by holding the ball longer than he should on third down. Add in some third down play calling that hasn’t always seemed to make a lot of sense, and it’s made third downs an obstacle that the offense has trouble overcoming.

The third down failures of the offense may only be rivaled by the third down failures of the defense. Whether it’s penalties that come with an automatic first down, giving too much space or simply leaving receivers uncovered on third down, the group is 27th in the NFL when it comes to preventing third down conversions so far this season.

BTB: Pete Carroll has been there a long time. Is there ever a chance he gets on the hot seat? Is there any kind of succession plan in place?

FG: It’s been almost two years since Mike Garofolo reported that Jody Allen looked at the issues the Seahawks have faced as more than a one-year blip, and the reality is that the team has won just a single playoff game in the past six seasons after consistently being one of the top teams in the league in the years prior to that. Making the playoffs last season certainly helped Pete’s case, but between the recent struggles and games against San Francisco and Philadelphia after they play Dallas, things could get ugly quickly. With that in mind, Carroll is currently under contract through the 2025 season, so it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if the franchise opts to move on should the season continue going south and finishes with the Hawks missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Now, I don’t expect that to happen, but I don’t think it’s out of the question.

As for a succession plan, my understanding is that Dan Quinn will be following Pete Carroll into the visiting locker room after the game in order to tell Carroll, “If y’all have the chance, come get me.”

BTB: DraftKings Sportsbook has Dallas as 8.5-point favorites. Is that a fair line? How do you think the game plays out?

FG: Given how much the Seahawks have struggled against higher level competition this season, that is more than fair. Yes, the Hawks have managed to defeat the Brown and Lions, winning both games thanks to end of game heroics from Geno Smith, but more often they have struggled against better teams, including being dominated by the 49ers and Ravens. I’ll certainly hold out hope that Seattle comes out fired up and ready to, with a couple of breaks going their way over the course of the game leading to a victory, but realistically my guess is that a somewhat comfortable win is in store for the Cowboys.

Thanks for the knowledge, Field Gulls.

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