IRVING, Texas – If you watched the Seahawks' Monday Night Football game against Washington, you've got a good idea of what makes this team so difficult to match up with.
A lot of attention will be paid to how the Cowboys can slow down Seattle's multi-faceted offense, and that's certain to be a difficult challenge. On top of taking a look at the Seahawks' offense, though, I wanted to preview the key player who I think will determine how well Dallas can run on this team.
Here are this week's opposing weapon, nemesis and under the radar threat:
Weapon: Russell Wilson, QB
I remember talking to my buddy John Schneider, the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, one day at the NFL Combine about Russell Wilson and what he meant to his football team. Schneider could only smile and say that he'd thought he had a chance to be good. But when they drafted him, Schneider never believed that he could become the Super Bowl-winning quarterback we see today.
Schneider went on to say that there are so many other traits that Wilson has in that locker room and off the field that people don't even know about that make him special. The biggest problem that this Cowboys defense will face on Sunday is Wilson's ability to make something out of nothing. There are plenty of plays that you can study where the defense has completely taken away all options, but through athletic ability and desire, he manages make that incredible scramble for a first down or throw a dart to a receiver with his toes along the sideline. He plays with a calm resolve when the situation around him is breaking down.
It's rare that you don't see Russell Wilson with an answer to handle what is thrown at him. He has a complete command of what Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is trying to accomplish scheme-wise. He puts so much pressure on a defense to be perfect in the way that they defend him because he is not going to make a mistake himself. That makes it tough on a defense.
Nemesis: Percy Harvin, WR
You could probably classify Percy Harvin as the "Weapon," as well, but I believe that he will be a "Nemesis" in this matchup.
I really like what the Seahawks do with Harvin scheme-wise in this offense. Much like what the Cowboys saw from Brandin Cooks with the Saints a couple of weeks back, Harvin lines up all over the place. When you chart his game, you will see him on the outside as a receiver, in the slot and even next to Russell Wilson in the backfield as a running back.
What makes Harvin so dangerous is his ability to take simple plays and turn them into huge ones. There are few players in the league that have his explosive quickness and speed. With his first step he is already at full speed. The Seahawks like to get him the ball quickly in space before the defense has a chance to react.
He's not the type of player that is going to break tackles as he heads up the field with the ball in his hands, but he can out run pursuit angles. The Seahawks like to put him in the backfield and do a couple of different things with him. They will hand him the ball on the read option or throw him the ball on the wheel route, working against a linebacker while setting picks for him. He is a hard guy to match because of his ability to operate from so many different spots.
Under Radar: Brandon Mebane, DT [embedded_ad]
Last week against the Texans, I thought Travis Frederick was outstanding in the way that he was able to not only handle their down linemen, but the linebackers as well. There were several snaps where Frederick's blocks were able to cut the Texans' defense in half.
This week against the Seahawks, there is another set of challenges in dealing with their inside players. There are several outstanding players on this Seahawks defense, but Mebane was the one that jumped out at me. His ability to control that middle in the running game makes it difficult to advance the ball. Mebane is a hard man to move physically off the ball due to his upper body strength and the base he plays with.
He is not one of those slug defensive tackles that just sits down and takes up space. His movement skills allow him to work down the line square, which doesn't provide a gap or crease for the running back to attack. His ability to flatten out the blocker along the line also makes the back have to carry the ball wide, stretching out the play and allowing his teammates to rally to the ball. If the Cowboys are going to continue to have success running ball, it is going to come down to Frederick and his ability to limit how well Brandon Mebane plays in this game.