Dallas Cowboys: The most important defender is…?

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

The Dallas Cowboys, sans their starting CBs, will be playing an offensively stacked Seattle Seahawks team today

The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks enter Sunday’s battle with a win from their previous week, but their journeys up to this point, albeit short ones, have been different. After Dallas HC Mike McCarthy promised a paradigm shift of a more analytic approach to the offense, the play-calling tendencies and decision making thus far would contradict much of what he promised in the offseason.

However, with the world still being in the midst of a pandemic, the changes were certainly not going to come overnight. Attempting to learn a new defense in such a short period of time has members on that side trying to simplify their reads. In an attempt to grasp situational play-calling, the team is still trying to find the right balance between pass and run, but more importantly, the use of play-action passes and jet motions.

Conversely, Seattle has retained most of its coaching staff and offense. It was only a matter of time before the Seahawks to figured out the most optimal way to win was to “Let Russ Cook.” The hashtag is everywhere on Twitter and prominent members of news media are endlessly saying the phrase in response to Russell Wilson‘s sensational start to the season.

The stakes heading into Sunday’s matchup are much higher than what people likely expected heading into this season. Throw in the injury situation of both teams, and this game has undergone a complete 180 in terms of expectation.

Both teams coming into the season previously relied on their defenses to make crucial stops and keep the score close so the offense could win it in clutch time. Both teams have had their share of injuries and their offenses have gotten stronger due to asset accumulation. Worse defenses and better offenses likely mean a high-scoring affair is on the horizon this weekend.

Cowboys fans knows the story of their offense now. QB Dak Prescott has an outstanding arsenal of weapons in RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Gallup, and WR CeeDee Lamb. This is yet to include week 2 standout TE Dalton Schultz and seldom-used RB Tony Pollard. The offensive line is left to be desired but it certainly could be worse.

Across the board, the Seahawks won’t match the star power of the Cowboys on offense. Even at its worst, the Cowboys offensive line is miles ahead of Seattle’s. Ezekiel Elliott has been one of the best and most durable running backs in the league leaving a good Chris Carson in the dust. Dalton Schultz is much younger, hence more athletic, than old reliable Greg Olsen. However, it gets interesting when we discuss Seattle’s receivers.

The dynamic duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf was an underrated group last season, partly due to their volume. While they played the majority of the snaps, they didn’t catch as many passes as they could’ve because of Seattle’s infatuation with running the ball.

Now, with increased volume, their efficiency has yet to take a tumble. After coming off his first 1,000-yard season in 2019, the sixth year receiver has caught 15 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. After two games, averaging 7.5 receptions and 79.5 yards per game is a healthy start to the year, however, I didn’t mention Lockett has caught 94 percent of his passes.

This man has been responsible for one incompletion in two games! If there was any reason to believe Lockett wasn’t a top 10 receiver in the league, that reason is starting to disappear.

Meanwhile, X receiver DK Metcalf continues to be an important deep threat asset for the Seahawks offense. After catching 58 receptions for 900 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, the Mississippi product has started off the season with eight receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Being a 6-foot-4 inch giant who can run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash is going to be a matchup night for any defender especially down the field.

Stephon Gilmore was the latest victim of Metcalf’s alien traits as he allowed his first coverage touchdown in two seasons.

The fear of having to stop these two receivers with Russell Wilson as their quarterback is extremely valid. The Cowboys are now without cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown due to injuries and rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs was listed on the injury report earlier in the week with a shoulder injury. The depth behind Brown was largely unproven; now fans and the team will get to learn about them. Unfortunately, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Even with Diggs available to play, the Seahawks present a serious mismatch with DK Metcalf on the outside. Diggs is a long, physical corner but he will certainly struggle with Metcalf’s speed. Jourdan Lewis could get some time on the outside with all the injuries, but no amount of heart and competitive toughness could prevent a 5-foot-10, 180 pound Nickel Cornerback from eventually getting beat by a 6-foot-4, 235-pound goliath.

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Enter Daryl Worley. The fifth-year veteran signed with the Cowboys in the off-season and was expected to come in and compete for a starting CB spot alongside either Diggs or Awuzie. His play at CB and occasional play at safety was good enough for the team to use a roster spot on him. In the previous two games, he played some reps at safety. With all the injuries, it seems inevitable he plays cornerback now.

Why could Worley be a better matchup than Diggs or Lewis? He’s longer than both. At a shade under 6-foot-1, Worley possesses 33.375-inch arms; this is fantastic length for the position. While not fast by conventional standards, he does display solid body control and good quickness in press-man coverage to deal with bigger and faster receivers on the outside.

He is certainly not a shutdown corner, but he could present the Cowboys with their best opportunity to stop Metcalf and a shifty Tyler Lockett from eating up either the middle or deep down the field. With his strength, he could definitely disrupt Lockett at the line of scrimmage and catch Metcalf at the top of his route stem.

Related Story. The Cowboys should dare the Seahawks to run the ball. light

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It was never an ideal situation to have to rely on the fourth and fifth string cornerbacks against some of the best receivers in the league, but a shortened offseason with no preseason games to work players back into game shape will do that to athletes. It is the unfortunate situation teams are left in given this is their attempt to salvage a season amidst a pandemic. Here’s to hoping Worley can cash in on the increased minutes he’ll earn this week.

  • Published on 09/27/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 09/27/2020 at 06:21 AM