BLUE FRIDAY MATCH UP FOCUS, NFL

The Blue Friday Matchup: The Dallas Cowboys

The 3-4 2011 Cowboys: A state of the art luxury vehicle being driven by teenagers on prom night. Great until something goes horribly wrong. With that said, I’ll be watching this game with both hands over my face, looking through my fingers like my wife watches horror films. This game has the potential to be very ugly, very fast. It also has the potential to swing our way very quickly due to the inexplicable mistakes the Cowboys are capable of making. It’s this dance on the edge of a razor blade that has me very concerned. The Seahawks have been outscored 72-26 in their last two meetings in Dallas so our offense will need to find a way to nullify OLB Demarcus Ware‘s impact on this game.

Offensive players to watch when the Cowboys have the ball: QB Tony Romo, C Phil Costa, WR Dez Bryant, WR Miles Austin, TE Jason Witten, HB Demarco Murray

Defensive players to watch when the Seahawks are on Defense: DE Chris Clemons, DE Red Bryant, LB Leroy Hill, CB Brandon Browner, CB Richard Sherman

As with many teams in 2011, the Cowboys are a very pass happy bunch. With the weapons they have at the Wr position it’s easy to see why they would be. Let’s take a look at how Tony Romo spreads the ball around to his receiving corps.

As expected the Cowboys use TE Jason Witten, and WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant on 61% of pass attempts. At this point of the season, the main thing that has held the Cowboys offense back has been the up and down play of Tony Romo and the very poor center-QB exchanges with C Phil Costa. LT Doug Free has also struggled this year with pass rushers, and has given up a ton of pressure. Here’s hoping Chris Clemons can take advantage of a great pressure opportunity.

Here’s the how the match ups look across the board:

I foresee big problems for the Seahawks secondary against the talented Cowboys receiving threats. CB’s Sherman and Browner will have to get Safety assistance on the majority of plays making Cowboys TE Witten a huge mismatch underneath against the Seahawks linebackers.

As for the rushing attack, the Cowboys love to run right (45% of the time per profootballfocus.com). This strategy will most definitely change when they face DE Red Bryant. I see the attack shifting to the left side towards DE Chris Clemons who is built for rushing the passer.

Advantage: Cowboys due to their passing prowess. Now obviously this could change drastically if Tony Romo starts to throw picks, but I’m going to assume the Cowboys play a solid game on offense in front of their home crowd.

Offensive players to watch when the Seahawks have the ball: QB Tarvaris Jackson, LT Russell Okung, RT James Carpenter, WR Sidney Rice, WR Mike Williams, RB Marshaun Lynch, and all TE’s in protection schemes.

Defensive players to watch when the Cowboys are on Defense: OLB Demarcus Ware, OLB Anthony Spencer, ILB Sean Lee, CB Mike Jenkins, and FS Abram Elam

The Seahawks have only had two games this year where they have broken out offensively. Against the Falcons and Giants, they showed flashes of what they are capable of when everyone is contributing and executing. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, there has been five other games with little offensive output, bad execution, curious play calling, and very little balance.

Ted E Warren, AP

The first priority for the Seahawks will be to figure out how to protect Tarvaris Jackson from the scariest outside linebacker in football right now. Demarcus Ware is a certifiable nightmare. RT James Carpenter will either be the hero of this game or the matchup we all talk about post game. So far this season, Ware has been sent at the QB 234 times and has 21 pressures resulting in 12 sacks.

If, and that’s a BIG if, the Seahawks can protect Tarvaris long enough to target receivers, Sidney Rice, Mike WIlliams, and Doug Baldwin should have some success against and up and down secondary. CB Mike Jenkins is coming off a poor showing against the Eagles, and has been allowing a 50% completion rate. Overall 53% of passes at the Cowboys corners have been completed.

If the game can remain close, I really hope the Seahawks involve Leon Washington and Justin Forsett much more in the running game. The equity of the Beast Quake run has worn out in my opinion, and Lynch has begun to show me why he was so easily replaced in Buffalo. He’s an amazing athlete, tough runner, and has a serious passion for the game. Unfortunately he’s incapable of seeing blocking progressions on a regular basis, which leaves him shuffling his feet, and fighting off five defenders in the backfield for incredibly impressive 2 yard runs.

Advantage: Cowboys. I just don’t see any answer for Demarcus Ware on our roster. 

Bottom Line:

I hate that I feel this way, but unless our very one-dimensional offense of late can gain some traction, I feel like this game could be ugly. You can never underestimate the ability of Tony Romo to be the MVP of the Cowboys opposition, but coming off of the beat down to the Eagles, I find it hard to believe that he’ll implode in front of his home crowd.

Dear Seahawks, please prove me wrong and completely make my weekend!

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About Will

Football fanatic, former coach, and obsessive blogger. Proud member of the Seahawks 12thManNation. Follow him on twitter @12thManScribe

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