Cowboys splash plays vs. Seahawks

BY foxsports • September 19, 2012

Against the Seahawks, the Cowboys defense employed a game-plan that they felt pretty good about.  It was a rookie QB that was playing in front of his home fans for the very first time and he would have plenty of nerves.  Not only that, but a hour before kickoff, word broke that Russell Okung, the giant left tackle, would miss the game as well with an injury.  The offensive line of the Seahawks has been a work in progress for quite some time, with countless line combinations since Pete Carroll took the job as head coach.  This is just the type of team you enjoy playing against - a likely one-dimensional squad without much explosiveness and seemingly a very limited ability to stretch the field.

Clearly, based on what we saw from the way the Cowboys deployed the troops, the plan was to play coverage all day long.  Keep the ball in front of your defenders and make the Seahawks drive the field.  While it could certainly be argued amongst many of us that the best way to rattle a young QB is to blitz him from all directions, the 2012 Cowboys have not looked like a team that is interested in doing that just yet in both New York and Seattle.  In 63 pass attempts in 2 games, the Cowboys have brought more than 4 pass rushers at the QB on only 21 occasions.  In 20 of those 21 occasions, the blitz was with 5.  That means there has been just 1 occasion so far where the Cowboys have brought 6.  And never have they gone with more than 6.

This tells us that Rob Ryan and his staff want Russell Wilson to beat coverage.  Dropping linebackers into zones with both safeties over the top have helped the Cowboys make sure that there are very few explosive passing plays (plays of 20 yards or more).  However, we are also seeing that the Cowboys appear to believe that they can get to the QB with just 4 rushers - something they haven't done since the days of Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware.  Through 2 weeks, the Cowboys have 5 sacks.  4 of them have happened when they bring a blitz.  In the 42 QB drops where the Cowboys do not blitz, they have sacked the QB 1 time, and that was when Anthony Spencer ran from the sideline on to the field and pulled Wilson down by his face mask in the process.

So, the Cowboys philosophy was to make the Seahawks drive the field and eventually bet on the Cowboys stopping the Hawks short of the markers.  Trouble is, with the scoreboard affecting the game, and with Marshawn Lynch employing his battering ram style, the Cowboys just couldn't execute the game plan.  There were almost no big pass plays, but Dallas could still not get off the field.

Let's take a look at the "Splash Plays" from Week 2 in Seattle:

What is a Splash Play?

This week we are looking at a very odd scenario, one where Anthony Spencer got a sack in the 4th Quarter on a 3rd Down.  These are 3 very desirable attributes, but in doing so, he picked up a 15-yard facemask penalty and thus, gave Seattle a very vital 1st Down.  I would rather avoid giving this a positive splash review, however, it is scored as a sack, so you will see it on the list.  It is just a odd situation that I recognize is frustrating and perhaps undeserved in terms of positive recognition.

Q-Time D/D/Yd Player Play
1-11:49 3/G/D3 Carter Pass Deflected
1-6:18 1/10/D46 Claiborne Pass Defended
1-6:12 2/10/D46 Hatcher Run Stuffed
2-11:09 3/7/S29 Scandrick 3rd D Stop
2-4:13 1/10/D12 Carter Tackle for Loss
2-0:23 3/2/D17 Ware Tackle for Loss
3-13:30 2/8/S39 Spencer Sack
3-12:59 3/15/S32 Spencer Hit Pass Breakup
4-7:00 1/10/S34 Brent Tackle No Gain
4-6:42 3/6/S38 Spencer Sack
4-3:16 3/5/D42 Butler Pass Batted Down

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Player Splashes
Spencer 6
Ware 4
Carter 4
Hatcher 2
Brent 2
Lee 1
Sensabaugh 1
Carr 1
Spears 1
Church 1
Claiborne 1
Scandrick 1
VButler 1

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Q-Time D/D/Yd Play Rushers
2-7:16 1/10/D46 Wilson to Tate, +20 4
3-6:37 2/7/S39 Lynch run, +36 5
3-5:12 2/7/D22 Wilson to McCoy, +22 TD 4

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Q-Time D/D/Yd Play Rushers
3-13:32 2/7/S39 Spencer Sack 5
4-6:46 3/6/S38 Spencer Sack #2 4

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Pass Rushers 1st D 2nd D 3rd D 4th D Total
3 1 3 4 0 8
4 2 2 4 0 8
5 3 5 2 0 10
6 0 0 0 0 0
7 0 0 0 0 0

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