Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks: Film Review


The Dallas Cowboys fell to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon. After reviewing the film, here are the Cowboys standouts, notes, and observations

Since statistics never tell the entire story and oftentimes mislead and misrepresent what really happened, we dive in a bit deeper and watch the actual execution of the game (over and over and over again). Here are Sunday’s standouts, notes, and observations:

  • The Dallas Cowboys defense began the game in single high safety formation (SHS) with Byron Jones up at the line drawing Jimmy Graham. Under this formation, when Graham runs the route, Jones takes him man to man. When Graham stays in to block, Jones maintains the edge and keeps Russell Wilson from rushing. The Cowboys alternated their QB spies play to play but ran a majority of plays from SHS.
  • Seattle, the team who made the single high safety famous, gave the Dallas Cowboys the formation right back. It’s clear that this coverage requires a special type of secondary to thrive but where Seattle really separates themselves is at LB. The LB corps is a turnover-producing machine. The way they disguise their coverage and drop into zone at the last possible moment is something the Cowboys LBs should aspire to become.

  • The Dallas Cowboys have been using a lot of 12 and 13 personnel (two and three tight ends)this season and have been having increasing success with it. When the Cowboys went on 4th and 1 they ran right behind LT Tyron Smith and their two TEs. Jason Garrett has long had a love affair with multiple TE sets and it’s finally starting to pay dividends.
  • After Greg Hardy’s embarrassing behavior last week, people were quick to understate how good of a player he really is. Hardy isn’t just a sack-a-game player but he creates pressure on countless other plays as well. He’s a strong run-stopper and a smart player against the screen (of huge importance for a DE). Greg Hardy is an enormous distraction with a questionable make-up, but he’s also one of the VERY BEST defensive linemen in the NFL.
  • Trips formation has plagued the Dallas Cowboys defense all season. It uses rubs and picks to create separation downfield and WR blocking on quick passes and screens. The Cowboys try to fight against the rubs by staggering coverage (depth-wise) so the defenders don’t get crossed up, but that’s also their Achilles on screen and quick pass plays.

  • Doug Free is a big strong run-blocking right tackle. Over the years we’ve seen him improve in strength but decline against speed. He’s certainly an asset but I have to wonder for how long. He earns negative grades as a pass-protector and is beaten in his gap by smaller, quicker defensive linemen.  On Sunday he was particularly struggling with his inside gap.
  • The moment Barry Church leaves the field and the Dallas Cowboys have a coverage breakdown that allowed two deep passes to Luke Wilson, one for a touchdown. Jeff Heath is on this team because he’s a smart player that knows where to be. In other words, the coaches trust him. But Heath doesn’t have the top-notch athletic ability that can react in time to execute against perfectly executed seam plays. Heath will just always be a liability in coverage.
  • Darren McFadden

    isn’t a great fit in the Cowboys running game when the offense uses a zone blocking scheme but he’s been extremely impressive as a slasher on the outside and dropping his head and powering through the middle. Since that’s the best fit the Cowboys have on this team, the carries will likely continue until the inevitable injury pops up, of course.

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    This was an amazing game from La’el Collins. The rookie lineman was a force in the running game (typically, his only struggle) and played with a much lower pad level than he has shown all season. He has the size and strength already – add in the lower pad level and the increased leverage and Collins has  chance to soon be dominant.

  • Matt Cassel was, once again, a little transparent with the ball. He is still staring down his receivers and throwing downfield without timing. Too much air, not enough accuracy lead to interceptions. He didn’t pack the stat sheet with int’s this week but he was just as reckless.
  • Sean Lee and Rolando McClain have yet to be the dynamic duo we were hoping to see. They are missing tackles too often and not reliable in their gap responsibility. They are still both positively graded players more often than not but they have high expectations that are not being met.
  • Next: Is Dallas Showing Chemistry

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