The Dallas Cowboys should dare Seattle to run the ball (Let Carson Cook)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys want to steer clear of Russell Wilson’s cooking and should try to tempt Chris Carson instead

The Dallas Cowboys will face their biggest challenge of the season when they take on the undefeated Seattle Seahawks this weekend in Seattle. The Seahawks, led by the incomparable Russell Wilson, have been an unstoppable force on offense this year.

And that’s why the Dallas Cowboys should go thin in the box and at defensive tackle, and dare Seattle’s lead running back, Chris Carson, to run the ball. <pause for gasps>

As counterintuitive as it may seem, daring a team to hand the ball off to their highly talented  5-foot-11 211lb back is the clear lessor of two evils. Gift-wrapping a 100 yard game may not sound like a winning strategy but it’s a heckuva lot better than the alternative.

every carry that Chris Carson gets on early downs, is an opportunity taken from Russell Wilson

The “Let Russ Cook” campaign finally took root in the Seattle brain trust and now the Dallas Cowboys roll into Seattle facing the league’s top QB, playing in a pass-happy offense for the first time.

Not only does Russell Wilson boast a .544 EPA/attempt with a 61.3% success rate, 86.7% completion percentage, a 18.8 CPOE and a 87.2 QB rating (2nd in NFL), but he’s done so by only throwing 11 incomplete passes to go with his nine touchdowns.

So the way to look at it is every carry that Chris Carson gets on early downs, is an opportunity taken from Russ.

As you can see above, Russell Wilson is deadly on early downs. His .388 expected points added per drop back are 3rd in the NFL and his success rate is at a staggering 61.9% (2nd in NFL). The running game is operating at a negative EPA on those early downs (they are hurting the team) and a success rate of just 38.1% (only slightly worse than Dallas’ at 40.8%). League-wide, those early down runs rate 13th and 18th respectively.

If you’re picking you poison it should clearly be the running game you want to let cook and not Chef Russell Wilson.

The Dallas Cowboys Adjustments

Running the ball on early downs leads to more third down situations. And as we know, the more third downs, the more chances something can go wrong and the drive stalls.

This season Dontari Poe has been atrocious as their primary run-stopper. With no pass-rushing skills to speak of, that makes Poe a fairly worthless piece on the defensive line. If the Dallas Cowboys replace Poe with someone like Tyrone Crawford (more pass-rusher than run-stopper) they’d see gains in their pass rush ability while strategically looking vulnerable to the run. If that can tempt Seattle to run more on early downs, it’ll prevent Russ from “cooking” and position the Seahawks for more third downs.

That’s the thing with long drives that run the ball on early downs. They get themselves in more third down situations. And as we know, the more third downs the more chances something can go wrong and the drive stalls.

Saving the run-stopping DTs for short-yardage situations won’t just tempt the ‘Hawks to run more on early downs, but it’ll keep guys like Poe and Antwaun Woods fresh (which will hopefully increase their effectiveness).

The Dallas Cowboys secondary is an absolute mess right now and stand to get picked apart by one of, if not THE, best QB in the NFL. Special strategy may be needed. And to borrow a plan once used by Bill Belicheck may be a good way to go…(see below).

As the story above discussed, granting a team easy yards on the ground may be abnormal, but it has been done before for reasons much like the one we find ourselves in today. Let Chris Carson Cook (#LetChrisCarsonCook) isn’t just a good hashtag, but it may force Pete Carroll into his old habits.

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Carroll is an old-school coach who’s long embraced the run heavy approach on early downs – long after analytics told him to do otherwise. And slipping back into that ugly habit could happen if Dallas can tempt him enough with those 4-yard gains.  If Dallas can force Seattle into a handful of 3rd-and-2s per drive, they are going to be thanking their lucky stars. There’s no such thing as “manageable” 3rd downs and the more 3rd downs Seattle is forced into – the better for Dallas.

Next. An NFL trend that could help the Cowboys O-line. dark

One thing we know, the Dallas Cowboys don’t want to let Russ Cook on Sunday. And without a decent secondary to deploy, the best way Dallas stops Russ is by tempting Pete Carroll with the running game. Let Chris Carson Cook and the Cowboys may have a chance.

  • Published on 09/26/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 09/25/2020 at 10:14 AM