Cowboys vs. Seahawks: Sketching out a Gameplan for Seattle

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterSeptember 14, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 06:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Heading into Week 1, I was drinking the Russell Wilson Kool-Aid just like everyone else. I didn't think there was a way the Arizona Cardinals would knock off the Seahawks, especially after the preseason Seattle had.

But then I remembered why preseason is always viewed the way it is. No team ever shows anything. Offenses and defenses are as bland as a vanilla ice cream cone. 

However, don't get me wrong, I still believe that Wilson was the right choice over Matt Flynn. No. 3 gives that team the best chance to win, week in and week out.

Offensively against the Cardinals, they just never could get in any kind of offensive rhythm. As a team, the Seahawks only put up 253 yards of total offense and rushed the ball for 3.5 yards per carry.

Honestly, that 3.5 yards per carry number surprises me. If you consider the game Darnell Dockett and Daryl Washington had against the run, it seemed like 2.0 yards a carry.

To no one's amazement, Seattle's defense outplayed their offense. According to Pro Football Focus, the defense as a whole only had three players who received negative grades. Marcus Trufant, Alan Branch and Earl Thomas were the culprits. 

By going back and looking at the all-22 tape, let's see what kind of game plan the 'Hawks need to put together so they get the W in front of the 12th man. 


When the Seahawks Are on Offense

Undoubtedly, head coach Pete Carroll was disappointed by the way his team played offensively last week, most notably the offensive line. By game's end, Arizona's defense had piled up three sacks, eight quarterback hits and 17 hurries—a combined 28 pressures on 50 pass plays. 

A ridiculously high number indeed, but it's safe to assume with the Rob Ryan's defense in town those numbers will turn out to be eerily similar. 

Last week against New York, Ryan's defense had a total of 20 pressures on only 36 Giant pass plays. The most incredible part was that Dallas only blitzed nine times on 56 defensive plays. Generating pressure with only four rushers is one of the key elements to winning ball games. When you're doing that, it means you can have seven guys back in coverage.  

So, based on what we know, the best plan of attack is to get back to doing what Seattle does best. And that's running the football. 

Even though Marshawn Lynch didn't top the century mark last week, he has topped it six times in his last 10 games. Not to mention last season against Dallas, in one of his finer performances, he ran for 135 yards on 23 touches. 

With J.R. Sweezy headed back to the bench in favor of 2011 third-round draft pick John Moffitt, the Seahawks are hoping to get better blocking upfront from the right guard position. One of Moffitt's more impressive games as a rookie actually came against the Cowboys

In the clip above, watch Moffitt at right guard. He single-handedly opens up a huge crease for No. 24. 

After the ball has been snapped, Moffitt starts out by helping center Max Unger throw a double team block on No. 90 Jay Ratliff and then, as soon as he sees Lynch heading for the wide open hole, he quickly shifts to the left to shield off Barry Church. Church was playing up at the line of scrimmage in anticipation of the run. 

Tom Cable's zone blocking schemes are incredibly effective with the right personnel on the offensive line. And that's not to say Sweezy isn't the right fit, as it would be unfair to judge him after one game. Darnell Dockett is one of the best 3-4 ends in the game.

If Seattle can control the clock by running the football, it will take pressure off of both the offensive line and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Meaning everything on offense will need to work like a well oiled machine if they don't want to drop to 0-2. 


When the Seahawks Are on Defense

As I mentioned above, Gus Bradley's defensive unit played lights out for 90 percent of the game. You may be wondering what happened to that other 10 percent, so let me tell you. 

Five percent of the problem was the amount of defensive penalties and the other five percent was the fourth-quarter comeback they allowed Kevin Kolb to orchestrate. 

I may be wrong in thinking this, but if you're facing a team that has had a quarterback controversy for the last year, it would be smart to prepare for both of them. And I could be totally wrong in thinking they didn't, because they obviously could have, yet it just didn't seem like it.

Sure, some of the credit has to go to Kolb for getting the ball out of his hands quickly, and to offensive coordinator Mike Miller for calling shorter pass patterns, but in all reality, No. 4 has no business marching it down the throat of the Seahawks' defense. 

The Cowboys' offensive line played well at times against the Giants heavy pass rush, which in turn helped Tony Romo have a big night as he hooked up with seven different receivers to the tune of 307 yards and three touchdowns. 

New York's pressure on Romo was hit or miss at times. It almost appeared as if it came in spurts. No. 9 was only under pressure for 12 of the team's 33 pass plays, a pretty low ratio when looking around at the rest of the league. 

Chris Clemons is consistently the biggest pass-rushing asset on the Seahawks roster week in and week out. So, sure enough, he will be counted on to take down Romo in Week 2. 

Jason Jones and Red Bryant also brought it last week, but will they be able to replicate their success against Dallas' offensive line? That remains to be seen. The biggest individual matchup will be Clemons against left tackle Tyron Smith. 

Smith is quickly developing into one of the top left tackles in the league, yet that means nothing to No. 91. He has proven that it doesn't matter who stands in his way; he is going to get to the quarterback one way or another. Just like in the clip above.

Seattle's ability to stop the Cowboys' run game doesn't worry me one bit as they are tops in the league in that category, but rushing the passer will prove to be their golden ticket to burying Romo and the Cowboys offense.