“America’s Team” heads to the Great Pacific Northwest to face a Seahawks team that used to be among the very best. Through two contests, however, Seattle appears to be among the teams that opponents are pleased to have messed (with).
While Cowboys Nation might still be angry about the outcome of games past and hoping Dallas puts a weakened Seattle on full blast, the Cowboys seem to understand – now more than ever before – that appearances can be deceiving . . . and a prideful bunch can leave an overconfident squad grieving.
While Seattle’s star quarterback Russell Wilson almost always reaches a second gear to (often but not always) prevent losses from getting too painfully near, Dak Prescott remains a potentially potent part of a greater ensemble cast which (in partnership with a creatively compliant play-caller) he can clearly steer.
One could argue the scripts have somewhat flipped (this year) for these teams and their schemes.
Dallas has spent much of the past 12 years relying on heavy doses of offense in order to keep an (almost always) undermanned defense from remaining on the field just long enough to allow opponents to swing for the fence. “Marinelli’s Men” (especially with the coaching addition of Kris Richard) are comparatively loaded this season, while “Linehan’s Clan” has had to work around (seemingly) unavoidable departures, a critical o-line deficiency, and the need to establish receiver-by-committee legitimacy. Ezekiel Elliott – for all his elite ability – has had to fight for every yard, as rushing behind an o-line operating with a rookie guard and without the veteran starting center Travis “Fredbeard” Frederick has been hard.
The Seattle Seahawks (since as far back as 2010) had been all about defensive domination with complementary offensive participation. Even with Russell Wilson’s increasingly impressive play since 2012 (along with that “Beast Mode” fella’ Seattle so heavily rode), last year’s literal “Legion of Boom” breakdown, devastating defensive departures, new coaches and their newly-implemented schemes have forced a much heavier offensive contribution. While that (temporary?) switcheroo is expected to continue for some time, the Seahawks’ offense has been absorbing its own lingering skill position attrition (along with the offensive line, running back, and receiver), creating a much steeper gameday hill for the resourceful Wilson to climb.
NFL teams must contend with injuries (some formally reported and others shadily distorted), and it seems like an eternity since a Dallas opponent has sported almost twice the number of wounded warriors. Dallas traditionally collapses following the loss of but one key player, but the Cowboys are showing signs of reasonably overcoming those barriers.
Will They Or Won’t They?
The 2016 preseason was the last time the Dallas Cowboys visited CenturyLink Field, and they sustained an inconceivable-yet-believable injury from which everyone in Cowboys Nation reeled. Then-rookie Prescott (armed with attentive coaches and a relatively-loaded offense) took over and reduced fan concern to utter nonsense.
While Tony “That Announcer Guy” Romo moved on (with other key players and coaches are also gone), the remaining Cowboys return to the scene of the crime, but will they render a result so sublime?
Reports suggest Earl Thomas (“Seattle’s Best”) appears set, yet again, on forcing Seattle to divest. They allegedly want a package of a 1st and 3rd in order to make Thomas a former bird, but will Jerry Jones ultimately give the (2nd and 4th) word?
Will Seattle’s still healthy “12th Man” be the difference between a Seahawks team (a shell of its former self) winning and being put on a shelf?
Will a returning Bobby Wagner cause the Cowboys to stagger?
Will the return of Brice (Butler) be twice as nice?
We shall see. We always do.