IRVING, Texas – Besides a young, mobile quarterback, a tenacious running back and an improved defense, there is something else that the Cowboys will have to game plan for in their preparation for the Seattle Seahawks this week: crowd noise.
Seattle's CenturyLink Field has a reputation for hosting one of the loudest crowds in the NFL. Since 2005, no stadium has helped cause more false starts than the 111 that were drawn against opponents playing in Seattle. The Seahawks also claim to have measured their crowd noise in CenturyLink field at an average decimal level of 112 dB. In comparison, the decimal level of a Boeing 747 has been measured at 130 dB.
The Cowboys are well aware of Seattle's home field advantage. The Seahawks may have opened with a disappointing loss at Arizona, but they will likely pose a greater challenge playing on their home turf as Jason Garrett pointed out on Monday.
This is a very difficult place to play," Garrett said. "It's loud. It's almost like a college-type atmosphere."
It's common for NFL teams to simulate crowd noise in practices as a way to get prepared for the hostile environment of road games. For whatever reason, the Cowboys did not seem to use this tactic in their practices leading up to the game against the Giants in New York. Whether it was because of lack of preparation or not, the Cowboys struggled with false starts in their season-opening victory.
Garrett talked about the need for improvement going into Week Two.
"We have to make sure we handle that better this week than we did last week," Garrett said. "We had too many pre-snap penalties last week. Noise was probably a factor in that, not the only factor in that. We have to get better in that area so we're going to try as coaches to put our players in the best situation to get ready for that."
Garrett also confirmed that when preparing for Seattle's crowd they would certainly be taking advantage of simulated noise to get their players ready.
"There will be sound in practice," Garrett said. "All week long there will be sound in practice."
Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau confirmed the importance of being ready as an offensive line to deal with a lot of extraneous sound.
"You have to prepare for that," Bernadeau said. "Because you know they're definitely going to be a factor, the crowd. We prepare for that and get extra sets in while we're out there."
Bernadeau also explained that there is actually a pretty simple solution to preparing to play a game in a loud environment.
"Practice in a loud environment," Bernadeau said. "We just throw it on, we have a little speaker out there. We practice our silent counts and stuff like that."
With starting center Phil Costa's status looking doubtful for Sunday's game, the preparation within the offensive line will go beyond just crowd noise. Ryan Cook did a good job of filling in against New York, given the circumstances, but with a week of practice under his belt, he will be expected to play a relatively mistake-free game against Seattle.
Cook understands that crowd noise will be an issue, but he won't let it be used as an excuse that prevents him and the offensive line from accomplishing their game plan.
"There's a lot of stadiums in the NFL that are loud," Cook said. "Seattle happens to be one that is fairly loud, but we can't let that be an issue."
Cook also went on to point out that despite possibly playing in a louder stadium, the team will look to improve from last week and have less pre-snap penalties.
"I know we had some problems last week," Cook said, "but we continued this week and got back in today to work on some of those things to make those corrections."
The Cowboys may have survived the Giants, a team with a heralded defensive line, but the Seahawks have an under-the-radar pass rush that is quite formidable. Defensive end Chris Clemons has recorded 11 sacks in each of the last two seasons.
Bernadeau assured that the offensive line was not overlooking the talent that they would be facing in Seattle.
"We're just preparing for everything that they do," Bernadeau said. "They've got a good defensive line, so we're just preparing for any blitzes they want to throw our way, any pressure. They have some strong guys up there in the middle, some fast guys. You just have to prepare for every single down what they can bring."