The Dallas Cowboys are an extremely polarizing franchise. People either love them or hate them. I will dare to join the ranks of internet hot take profundity and state that the majority of 12s despise America’s Team.
Those who loathe the ‘Boys were a satisfied bunch Thursday night as the Seattle Seahawks rolled over them by a score of 27-17, including a garbage time touchdown by Dallas. After struggling to defend the fresh legs of Ezekiel Elliott and the third down efficiency of Dak Prescott, the Seattle defense began to stiffen, holding the rookie quarterback to a pedestrian statline of 5.0 Y/A. The first-team offense also blossomed, turning in four scoring drives after not scoring a single point in the first two games.
While this is still a preseason contest and the lack of game-planning leads to the conclusion that it really doesn’t mean anything, I got to see my two favorite things: P-Rich and No-E scoring touchdowns and Kamtrack leveling some fools.
There was a lot to like on Thursday, as it looked to be a complete team effort. It was much more difficult to pick out players who stood out this time around, but by golly I did it anyways.
This is getting boring. Every damn week I’m singing Michael’s (great name) praises over and over again. This won’t go too in depth, because it’s obvious how much The Awakening has really progressed. The preseason hype train is at an almost… well… Michael-level. I don’t know if there’s another way to describe it.
Michael’s explosion has been evident since he was drafted in 2013, but his decisiveness, ball security, and vision have been consistently put on display throughout the preseason, including this play from Thursday:
The right edge player believes the drop back is play action and Michael identifies this. The entire line is blocking to the right, clearing a cutback lane for C-Mike if he can recognize it. He does, and bolts through open space for a gain of 18. The previous run had gained 20 yards. Yeah. He’s a beast.
I know I’ve said it before, but Michael is the human embodiment of a fire emoji and he shows no signs of cooling down.
Earl Thomas III
Thomas is the kind of player who is so consistently superb at what he does that it never stands out from the norm when he makes his customary game-breaking plays. A big part of his role in the defense is intimidation factor. Opponents don’t want to throw between the numbers, as Earl’s range is unparalleled.
Thomas popped off of the television yesterday, tracking down a slip screen for no gain and also defending this pass:
Prescott fakes the handoff and then takes a deep drop. He guns the ball ten yards downfield, just outside of the right hash. Thomas closes quickly and gets a hand in, disrupting the reception just enough to jar the ball loose.
The following play was an incomplete pass, bringing up fourth down and a punt. The Seahawks finished the ensuing drive with a touchdown.
It’s little things like this that go unappreciated because we’re so used to seeing them from Earl. Had that been any other safety not named Mathieu, that play ends up being a first down and the Cowboys’ drive continues. We are damn lucky to have ET3 in blue and green.
I was impressed by multiple rookies in Thursday’s matchup, so instead of picking just one, I’m going to sing the praises of three. First up we have Alex Collins, who many thought could be a surprise roster cut after not receiving much action in the first two games. After being stuffed on a similar short-yardage play last week, Collins made the read he needed to:
The offensive line allows immediate interior penetration while right tackle Terry Poole, moving to the second level, leaves the left end unblocked. The play should be killed at the get-go, but Collins immediately stops after the handoff and cuts to the right, tripping the defensive end and hitting the edge. He finishes the run brutally, wrecking wide receiver Antwan Goodley in the process. If Collins can continue to run like this and earn more reps, there is a strong chance he makes the roster.
Quinton Jefferson has looked solid throughout all three games, getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks at a fairly consistent rate. He hasn’t been able to finish any sacks, but he has looked like a guy who can play an extensive depth role as a Seahawk for years to come.
As the right guard attempts to pull to the left, Jefferson bursts into the backfield and easily shoves him down. With a fallen comrade in his path, Alfred Morris has nowhere to go but into Jefferson’s arms. While he fails to wrap up, Jefferson holds onto Morris’ ankle while Kelcie McCray cleans it up. Q-Jeff has been used all over the defensive line throughout the preseason, indicating that he will be a valuable member of Seattle’s rotation over the course of the season.
Last but not least is precisely the man that Seahawks fans have been drooling over for months now: C.J. Prosise. Getting his first action of the Proseason… excuse me, preseason… Prosise looked silky smooth while averaging 5.8 yards per carry on runs like this:
The offensive line blocks successfully to the left, clearing a massive hole on the right. Unfortunately, a linebacker immediately fills the lane. Fortunately, Prosise is not a standard human. A fluid spin move renders the linebacker’s position useless as he picks up an easy eight yards on the play.
Prosise is reminiscent of Jamaal Charles in the respect that he doesn’t seem to be running that hard, yet he’s faster and shiftier than just about everybody else on the field. Slotting in as the day one starter as third down back, Prosise showed that he can be yet another dynamic playmaker for this Seattle offense.
It’s about damn time, isn’t it? After penalties derailed the first drive, Wilson showed out to the tune of 192 yards on 21 attempts (9.1 Y/A) with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 135.4. When the offensive line protected him, he made bigtime throws. When they didn’t, he created magic out of thin air. While his second pay-dirt excursion was absolutely absurd and he ran himself into pressure, he still made it work. That’s the magic of Russ.
His two most impressive throws of the day were both targets to my main man Paul Richardson, who also happened to look pretty flipping good.
The first touchdown that Russell threw on Thursday was an absolute dime:
On first-and-goal from the nine, Russell quickly fakes the handoff. Richardson runs a crossing route into the left quadrant of the end zone with Morris Claiborne trailing slightly. With only the lightest interpretation of the phrase ‘set feet,’ Russ gently plants and floats a perfect pass into Richardson’s outstretched hands.
If the ball is underthrown it will allow Claiborne to defend the pass or intercept it. If the ball is overthrown, it is an incomplete pass. Wilson puts the ball exactly where it needs to be to give P-Rich an excuse to flex on ‘em.
My favorite throw of the game from Russell occurred earlier in the second quarter and actually was an incomplete pass:
Wilson drops back to the edge of his own end zone, waiting for routes to develop. An egregious hold from J’Marcus Webb gifts Wilson solid protection before he fires a frozen rope 30 yards upfield towards Richardson. The ball appears to be off-target and almost intercepted by Claiborne. Looking at the replay however, Richardson slows up on his in-cutting route while the ball is in midair.
If Richardson had not stopped, the ball would’ve been right on the money for a big gain and a third-and-long conversion. What this play tells me is that Russell is tuned in on the timing of routes and getting the ball out on schedule. While it wasn’t a completion, the error was on Richardson’s end. I expect them to get this cleaned up, as the two of them worked together extensively this offseason to develop an on-field rapport.
As I said months ago, Richardson looks to develop into yet another great target for Wilson in the passing game. The two things that make Russell so dangerous are his scrambling ability (duh) and his ability to spread the ball around with no preference. Wilson doesn’t thrive in an offense where the ball is forced into an elite pass-catching target (a la Percy Harvin or Jimmy Graham). Russell works best when he progresses through his reads and just simply finds the open man with no proclivity for individual statistical achievement.
Wilson has been poised for an MVP-caliber season for a while and Thursday night just strengthened that premonition. The possibility of putting up video game numbers in the regular season is very tangible for Russell. Why not him?
–I thought that Bobby Wagner looked great this week. He looked dominant against the run and got after the quarterback a little bit too. I hope he can continue to stay healthy and showcase why he’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
–While they didn’t generate much in the run game at first, the offensive line got it together and cleared lanes for Seattle running backs to gain yardage at a clip of 5.65 yards per carry. This is while only allowing one sack throughout the entirety of the game. If the offensive line can continue their mauling methods, Thomas Rawls and company look to put up huge numbers.
–Kelcie McCray continues to look great, making plays in both the passing and running games. He was caught flat-footed by Dak Prescott at one point but recovered to defend a deep pass that would have been a huge gain.
–Tanner McEvoy has a shot to make the roster as the “fifth wide receiver” as he is so versatile and contributes well on special teams as a former safety. While there was nobody in his vicinity on his deep gain in the third quarter, he continues to make big plays that can’t go ignored.
–Tony McDaniel looks surprisingly good since he has come back on. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes this roster. On the flip side, Brandon Browner hasn’t shown me much to indicate his deservedness of a roster spot. In theory, I would love him to make this team, but we’ll just have to see what happens in the first round of cuts.
–Trevone Boykin had another electric scoring play but was also victim of a stat line that includes 4/10 for 31 yards. He will probably make the team as a backup as he shows shades of Russell Wilson at times, but he really needs to get his footwork together and stop throwing off of his back foot.
-Tyler Lockett consistently leaves me at a loss for words. It amazes me how much I love that little dude.
–This was the best team effort of the preseason and I’m very encouraged by what I saw. I would love to see more turnovers by the defense, but teams are hyper-careful against us. Life goes on.
–Next week won’t be too exciting, as the starters will likely be out on the field for all of one series. The yearly preseason match against the Raiders is just a fancy exhibition to decide the remaining battles on the roster and to figure out which players have the most versatility. Regardless, Seahawks football is always fun to watch. Go Hawks.