Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks: Film Study and Predictions


On Sunday, September 16th at 4:05 PM ET the Dallas Cowboys head to Centurylink Field to play the Seattle Seahawks. This will be a tough game because of Seattle’s acoustically designed stadium well known for it’s “12th man” advantage. I will use the Seahawks’ first game of the season against the Cardinals to analyse Seattle’s personnel and strategy, and then look at some key matchups for this Sunday’s game.

Let’s get right in to it:

Leroy Hill playing dead as his survival instincts kick in

Film Notes

Main Players (snaps percentages in brackets):

  • Offensive starters: WR Braylon Edwards(80), WR Sidney Rice(89), FB Michael Robinson(21), RB Marshawn Lynch(78), TE Zach Miller(86), QB Russell Wilson, LT Russell Okung, LG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Breno Giacomini
  • Other offensive players of note: 3rd down back RB Leon Washington(10), RB Robert Turbin(10), slot WR Doug Baldwin(67), 2nd TE Anthony McCoy(33), WR Ben Obomanu(15)
  • Defensive starters: LE Red Bryant(58), LDT Alan Branch(53), DRT Brandon Mebane(62), RE Chris Clemons(89), LOLB Leroy Hill(100), MLB Bobby Wagner(50), ROLB KJ Wright(100), LCB Richard Sherman(95), RCB Brandon Browner(100), FS Earl Thomas(95), SS Kam Chancellor(100)
  • Other defensive players of note: slot CB Marcus Trufant(50), DE Bruce Irvin(55), DE Jason Jones(50), DT C McDonald(25), DB W Guy(12)


  • Zach Miller had snaps at FB.
  • Kam Chancellor closes with lightning speed and hits like a truck.
  • Seattle’s offensive-line can not run block to save themselves. This sums up 95% off Seattle’s runs against the Cardinals: “Nothing there, Lynch gets 2 or 3 when he should’ve had 0 or 1”. Lynch is a beast of a back that fights hard on every run but with an o-line like this he almost has no hope.
  • Leon Washington is a hell of a returner, he almost took a kick return to the house but was chased down by Rob Housler of all people. Sidenote: Housler can really fly for a TE. He also had a punt return he almost took back for 6.
  • Sidney Rice had a nice game and made some great catches but dropped what would’ve been the game winner.
  • Braylon Edwards made some catches but isn’t anything special at this point, and he also dropped what could have been the game winner.
  • Doug Baldwin didn’t really feature in this game. He had a few opportunities but didn’t really do much with them, and he also dropped a potential game winner.
  • Russell Wilson was up and down. He did have three key drops. His deep ball goes insanely high and far, but he overthrew it every time. He made some nice throws, but also overthrew/missed some easy ones. If you get pressure on him he drops his eyes and runs, every time. Had 5 passes deflected by defensive linemen, because you know, height doesn’t matter. Overall, I think the Seahawks made a mistake choosing him as the starter over Matt Flynn, who would have a better chance of running a sustained offense, making accurate throws, and good decisions.
  • Max Unger is their only linemen that played well; he looked good getting out on run blocks.
  • Arizona’s o-line is horrible but Seattle’s run defense was still beastly. The Cardinals couldn’t do anything on the ground in this game. Brandon Mebane looks like the star of this group. LB Leroy Hill made some mistakes in coverage.
  • The only play Bruce Irvin was noticeable was when he got washed out on a run.
  • Richard Sherman had a ridiculous interception on the sideline, any WR would’ve been proud of that catch.
  • Chris Clemons and Jason Jones can get pressure on 3rd down.
  • On offense they run pretty much all stretch zone blocked plays. Even when the the blocking gets the edge, Lynch doesn’t have the patience to follow and will turn it inside anyway.
  • On defense they don’t blitz that much, and they play a lot of zone coverage.

“Talk to the hand bro”

Points of Interest

  • www.profootballfocus.com grades every player on every snap of every game and in their review article of the game some of the Seahawks players they mentioned as playing well were: Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, and Jason Jones. They really did dominate up front.
  • They also mentioned J.R. Sweezy at RG and Russell Wilson saying both players were poor, and the tape supports that conclusion.
  •  Last, they mention Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman for their inconsistencies: Thomas due to his confidence in his “instincts” and Sherman for his penalties. Thomas’ aggressive style of play definitely shows up on tape as he plays very fast but this can result in mistakes. As for Sherman’s penalties, it may be better to have an aggressive corner who gives up some penalties than a corner playing soft and continually getting beat like so many other corners.
  • The one other grade they gave which stood out was a -2 for Marshawn Lynch. I went back and rewatched all his carries and there’s no doubt he left some yards on the field by not seeing the hole, or just picking the wrong hole, plus he fumbled. Lynch is an interesting player. He has great power, he is very aggressive, he has decent speed and decent change of direction, but he doesn’t have very good vision. It doesn’t seem to matter what his blockers are doing, Lynch would rather “bang it up in there”. In contrast, patience and vision is one of the things that makes DeMarco Murray so effective.
  • Last week the Cowboys had a slew of false start penalties against the Giants, which undermined what was a solid effort pass-blocking otherwise. This week they have to block Chris Clemons and Jason Jones in the loudest stadium in the NFL. Jason Garrett has mentioned it as something he would like the team to improve on, can they get the job done with a center that’s been with the team for two weeks?

Key Matchups

  • Miles Austin vs Marcus Trufant in the slot: the Cowboys offense is designed to take what the defense gives it and attack the matchup most in their favor. Last week that was Ogletree against the Giants 3rd and 4th corners. When the Cowboys go 3 wide this week, it will likely be Austin lined up in front of Marcus Trufant in the slot. If Austin can have a big game out of the slot and on 3rd down, it would go a long way towards getting the W.
  • Tony Romo versus Seattle’s back 7: The Cowboys defense will do a good job against Seattle’s offense. If Tony Romo doesn’t turn the ball over, that should be enough for a victory. Earl Thomas is a real ball-hawk with good range, so Romo will have to be careful when going deep over the middle.
  • Joe Decamillo vs Leon Washington: Washington is an explosive returner capable of taking it to the house on any return. Decamillo shouldn’t take any chances here, punt to the sidelines and put his kick cover team in positions to keep Washington inside the 30.


The Seahawks will be calling for Matt Flynn by the start of the third quarter when they have 0 points, 13 yards rushing, and 76 yards passing. The offense for the Cowboys will have some three and outs, but hit on a few big plays and score enough off of turnovers and good field position to put this one away safely. Cowboys 24 – Seahawks 13

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