IRVING, Texas – The Seattle Seahawks run a zone blocking scheme with a big, physical running back – a bruiser who racks up yards after contact.
That should sound familiar to anyone familiar with the Cowboys, as those very same assets have helped them to a 4-1 record. In preparing for a physical Seahawks offense, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said it helps having similar personnel working on the same practice fields at Valley Ranch.
"The one thing that I think, in our favor, we've been playing against our offense since training camp – same zone team, same physical running back, all those things," Marinelli said. "We work against our guys every Wednesday in tough situations, so again, it's about us and what we're trying to accomplish."
Of course, when the Cowboys defense goes against DeMarco Murray and his offensive line, they aren't allowed to tackle. Against Marshawn Lynch, who is among the league leaders in yards after contact, they'll have no choice but to.
"Swarming, gang tackling. This guy breaks tackles, he's a great cutback runner, he's tough. He finishes every run," Marinelli said.
Asked if that was a tough proposition, Orlando Scandrick scoffed.
"I mean – you've got to tackle him. You need to get guys to the ground," he said. "You need to have bodies on the ball, you need to have hats on the ball every time. That's the key to tackling, period – that's the key to good defense. If you look at the Seattle Seahawks, they've got multiple hats at the ball every play."
The Seahawks present a challenge the Cowboys don't have to deal with in facing Tony Romo, though. Russell Wilson isn't just a threat the pickup rushing yards as a scrambler, many of Lynch's carries are read-option runs that give the quarterback the choice to keep the ball. Preparing for that look is something Marinelli said started long before this week. [embedded_ad]
"We start this stuff in the offseason. Your system is built with rules – who's got the quarterback, who's got the dive – all those things," he said. "So back in training camp, we started – so it's not something new the week of."
Thanks to Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, the Cowboys also have some familiarity in facing a similar scheme in Week 1. The Cowboys surrendered 127 yards on 30 carries in that game – something they'll need to improve on at CenturyLink Field.
"Our first game was with the Niners, so we're well-schooled in it, for the most part – getting your rules down," Marinelli said. "It's just rules and the system, and you've just got to play – do your job."