Anchoring the Tide on Both Sides of the Line
The Seattle Seahawks host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Seahawks are coming off of a disappointing loss to the division rival Arizona Cardinals, while the Cowboys are coming off of a divisional victory against the New York Giants.
Seattle opened the season with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, new jerseys, a hyped defense, and a running game that was assumed to be elite. They brought all of these fresh assets to Arizona, only to flop and lose the defensive battle to a fourth-quarter drive by the bench-ridden Kevin Kolb.
The Cowboys and Giants opened the 2012 season in Met Life Stadium September 5th, and the ‘boys struck their revenge on the Giants after losing their NFC East title the year before.
The Seahawks struggled week one, and will need to make several adjustments if they hope to defeat the surging Cowboys.
Protect the Rook
Last Sunday Russell Wilson faced an underrated defense in the Cardinals who displayed a solid balance of pressure on the quarterback and stacking the box.
The QB hit average week one was 4.5, Wilson took 7 hits on Sunday.
The injury to Russell Okung did little to help matters, even though Okung’s performance was lackluster at best anyway.
Okung has been limited at practice so far, but is expected to play against Dallas. This is hopeful news for a team that is about to face one of the league’s most prestigious pass rushers in DeMarcus Ware.
Ware has made a career out of frustrating quarterbacks, and he did so last week sacking Eli Manning twice.
When Wilson was given time to throw, he showed promise and accuracy. If there were a few less drops on the final drive, the Seahawks could have easily came out victorious. He needs to be protected for the Hawks to be successful, and the run game can provide help for that.
Unleash the Beast
The Cardinals pressured Wilson, but also limited running back Marshawn Lynch 85 yards and kept him out of the end zone.
Lynch did his best to show his beast mode mentality, posting 40+ yards after contact. Unfortunately, the line just could not create the running lanes necessary to further his success.
The Cowboys held Giant’s running back Ahmad Bradshaw to 78 yards, but Bradshaw did happen to find the end zone for a touchdown.
For the Seahawks offense to be successful, the running game MUST get rolling. The Cowboys will likely stack the box and force Wilson to make plays in the passing game, all the while DeMarcus is roaming freely on the other side of the ball.
The offensive line needs to step up and step up big, both in pass protection and run push. A tall task for the young group, but if anyone can prepare them it is offensive line coach Tom Cable.
The Cowboy offense was clicking on all cylinders last week with Tony Romo throwing for 3 touchdowns and Demarco Murray rushing for 131 yards.
Watching the game it seemed like big play after big play, leaving the Giants defense at the Cowboys’ mercy. But if you look a little deeper, you notice that the success of Romo relied on Murray’s performance.
Majority of the big pass plays from Romo were to his third-read Kevin Ogletree, and most of these throws came on second and third down. The reason Ogletree burst on to the scene was similar to why Laurent Robinson did so the year previous, you can only cover so many weapons. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are often seeing double coverages or safeties over top, leaving Ogletree in the open.
This may seem like Tony Romo was the reason for the team’s success, but Ogletree found all of these second and third-down catches due to the short yardage needed for first downs.
Murray ran for 131 yards on only 20 carries, a 6.6 yard per carry average. When you’re running back is gaining 6-7 yards on first down you are set up with short second and third-down plays, opening the playbook for down-field plays.
If the Seahawks can do anything great, it is stop the run – as they did last week holding the Cardinals to 43 yards rushing as a team – and I have no doubt in my mind they can at least limit Murray, shrinking the Cowboy playbook and forcing Tony Romo to make plays.
Make Romo Win
With a weakened running game, the options for Romo are still out there with his strong receiving corp. There’s no doubt about that.
Luckily, the Seahawks also happen to have one of the better secondaries in football – with three pro-bowlers in Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner – and all are capable of making plays. Second-year player Richard Sherman also showed his play-making abilities last week with his toe-tapping interception on the sideline.
A lack of running production leads to a lot of third-and-longs, which should make the speedster Irvin salivate at the opportunity.
If Clemons and Irvin can provide consistent pressure on the ever-inconsistent Romo, opportunities for turnovers could be falling from the skies like rain drops (Seattle pun).
12th Man, RISE UP
The first Seahawks home-opener is always a holiday in Seattle.
Blue and Green paint the streets as the fans flock to the stadium. The 12th-man flag is raised, and the noise begins.
Century Link Field is known for its difficulty on opposing teams – its 2.36 false starts per game is the highest in the NFL – and this place may bring back some haunting memories for my old pal Tony.
In the 2006 playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys were down 20-21 and lining up for a 19-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining in the game. Seattle fans’ hearts were in their throats while they watched helplessly as their teams’ playoff hopes were held in the hands of the place-holder, Tony Romo.
Whether it was the nerves or the rumbling from the 12th man, Romo fumbled the hold and was eventually tackled from behind by former Seahawk Jordan Babineaux for a Seattle victory.
If the defense can force Romo into long third-downs and the crowd does its part, more bad things could be in store for Tony.
In order for the Seahawks to be successful Sunday they will need both lines to play up to their potential, do their jobs and anchor the tides on both sides of the ball. If this happens, We may see another picture of Romo sitting on the goal line crying into his helmet.