The challenges just keep coming for the Dallas Cowboys. After a tough week one loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys had to overcome poor play and turnovers in the early going to win a game that they frankly should have never won against the Atlanta Falcons.
Heading into week three 1-1, the Cowboys face the red hot Seattle Seahawks, who are coming into this game with arguably the NFL’s best quarterback and offense at 2-0. The Dallas Cowboys can play with Seattle, but it’s a game where they’ll have to win a shootout or get a lights-out performance from the defense in order to win.
It’s a winnable game despite how good Seattle has looked early on, because as good as their offense has looked, the defense has had some struggles. The biggest question heading into Sunday, can the Cowboys keep pace. Well here are three things the Dallas Cowboys need to do in order to come out on top against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
1. Let Dak Deal
The Dallas Cowboys have had 72 first down plays through two games to start the NFL season per Sharp Football Stats. They’ve run the ball 34 times on first down for an average of 4.5 yards per carry and a success rate of 59%. When they’ve thrown the football, they’ve averaged 8.6 yards per attempt on Dak Prescott’s 38 dropbacks and a success rate of 74%. That’s a stark contrast. When they throw the football on first down, it helps to set a tone for the rest of the drive and keeps the opposing defense off-balance.
The Cowboys have traditionally leaned more heavily on the run on first down, but because teams have come to expect that, it’s a perfect opportunity to go against the grain. Kellen Moore needs to dial up some passes for Prescott on first down and attack the first down marker with frequency.
Dak Prescott’s 450 passing yards and four total touchdowns in the Dallas Cowboys epic come from behind win over the Atlanta Falcons should have sealed the deal for those who continue to doubt whether or not he can be an elite passer in the NFL. More importantly, it should have given Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore the freedom to focus their offensive efforts through the passing game and use the running game to supplement and keep defenses off-balance.
When the Cowboys have attempted to get the running game going early in the ball games, they’ve struggled to find their way. When they’ve put the ball in Dak Prescott’s hands in two or four-minute drills, or during the comeback against Atlanta, they’ve found a ton of success.
When the Cowboys face the Seahawks, they need to open the game like they finished the game in Atlanta. By letting Dak throw the football early and often to get the offense in a rhythm. They can’t afford to play from behind against Seattle and it would be unlikely to pull off comebacks like the one in week two on a regular basis.
2. Don’t Get Behind Big
Last week against the Falcons, the Cowboys literally tried to give the game away in the first half with three fumbles and two failed fake punt attempts. They ere able to overcome the self-inflicted deficit, but they can’t play a game like that against Seattle and expect to come back and win the game.
The Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson and Head Coach Pete Carroll, are too good of a football team to fall behind 10 or 20 points. Playing catch-up football is not sustainable football week to week, as we saw in 2019. That’s why the Cowboys must get aggressive from the jump offensively by letting Dak Prescott sling it around.
3. Limit Big Plays
The Seattle Seahawks offense is one of the best in the NFL through two weeks of the season. Russell Wilson is making a serious claim on the 2020 NFL MVP award early on. Wilson is leading the NFL in yards per attempt at 9.8 among quarterbacks who have at least 64 drop-backs on the season. His 140.3 passer rating is nearly 20 points higher than second-place Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. Wilson’s leading the NFL in passing touchdowns by three and has only 11 incompletions on the day.
Wilson’s wide receiver group is one of the best in the NFL with Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and David Moore. Tight ends Greg Olsen and Will Dissly along with running back Chris Carson provides Wilson with a dynamic group of players to target.
With the injuries the Dallas Cowboys are suffering in the secondary and in the linebacker group, there will be opportunities for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to make plays in the passing game. The Cowboys will be without Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown at cornerback, leaving Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, and Daryl Worley to start on Sunday. At linebacker, the Cowboys are without Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, which means more of Joe Thomas starting alongside Jaylon Smith. Thomas played well in his start last week against the Falcons and the Cowboys will need a repeat performance from the veteran linebacker.
The Cowboys defense, thinned by injury, is ripe for the picking by a Seahawks offense that has been efficient and explosive at the same time. With as good as they’ve been moving the football, the Cowboys can’t allow the Seahawks to get any easy scores through big plays.