Still licking their wounds from two disheartening road losses to open the 2018 season, the Seattle Seahawks believe some much-needed home cooking can steer the team in the right direction against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.
Following a 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Seattle dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2015. While many have disregarded the Seahawks’ playoff chances, head coach Pete Carroll said he thinks returning to CenturyLink Field can be a turning point after what has been a dreadful start.
“This is really special to come home. It feels like we haven’t been home for a long time and to be playing in front of the 12s and all that is a big deal to us,” Carroll told reporters Wednesday. “It’s obvious we need to get kick-started and this is the best place in the world to do that, so we’re going to try to make the most of this opportunity.”
Historically, the Seahawks have been dominant at home, but the team managed to lose four out of their final five games at CenturyLink Field last season, including a 42-7 obliteration at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15 as part of a late-season swoon.
They’ll be looking to restore their winning ways in front of a raucous hometown crowd against a talented Cowboys squad that grinded out a 20-13 victory over the New York Giants last week.
Still, the home team hasn’t fared well in this series of late. Dallas won in Seattle in 2014, then the Seahawks posted back-to-back victories at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in 2015 and 2017.
When Dallas rolls into Seattle, the Cowboys will have one of the architects of the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense on their sideline.
Dallas’ new defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard drew the media’s attention for his intense approach during OTAs and training camp. Richard was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for the last three seasons (2015-17) and coached the defensive secondary for five seasons before that.
The Cowboys’ defense has started this season with a more aggressive tone, which many in the media and the stands are crediting to Richard’s presence. Dallas sacked Eli Manning six times and shut down the Giants long enough for the Cowboys to control the first three and a half quarters on the way to victory. Dallas also sacked Carolina’s Cam Newton three times in the season opener and held the Panthers to 16 points.
All of that, plus the Seahawks’ sputtering offense so far this season bodes well for the Cowboys’ defense.
Also, Dallas has already seen a dual-threat quarterback this season in Newton, which will help when facing Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
Wilson (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) doesn’t have the same kind of intimidating physical presence as Newton (6-foot-5, 245), but is still plenty accomplished using his arm and feet to make plays.
“[Wilson] certainly challenges you a lot of different ways,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “He is a dual threat. He can beat you with his feet. He can beat you on designed runs, when plays break down, when he gets out of the pocket he extends plays. He can stand in there and throw it too.”
Newton passed for 161 yards and ran for 58 in the Panthers’ 16-8 victory over the Cowboys in the season opener.
Dallas faces a challenge in Seattle tight end Will Dissly. After setting an NFL-record for rookie tight ends with 105 receiving yards in his debut against Denver, the fourth-round pick out of Washington followed up with another steady performance in Chicago, catching three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while also contributing a few key blocks against Khalil Mack late in the game.
The Cowboys had some trouble covering Giants tight end Evan Engram last week, surrendering six catches for 73 yards and a score. Dissly isn’t the same athlete as Engram, but at 270 pounds, he’s a load to bring down in the open field and he’s fleet-footed for his size.
Of course, Dallas has been inconsistent on offense through two games as well.
The Cowboys found their rhythm at times against the Giants with Dak Prescott making key plays. They’ll try to keep it up against a remodeled Seattle defense.
In the fair-trade category, Ken Norton Jr., a member of two Cowboys Super Bowl championship teams, is the Seahawks’ new defensive coordinator.
“I see a really good defense,” Garrett said. “They’ve got a lot of new faces, but they still play the same way they’ve played for a long time.”