In one of the most painfully boring games of the NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks squeaked out a 13-12 victory over the Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys. ‘America’s Game of the Week’ featured six field goals and one touchdown, leaving both teams extremely unhappy with the way their offenses are performing.
The Cowboys have a more justifiable excuse, as they have been forced to rely on NFL journeyman Matt Cassel to lead their offense. The return of Dez Bryant from injury this week was largely negated by Richard Sherman, and Scott Linehan’s one-dimensional play-calling has prevented any big play possibilities. In Linehan’s defense, no one wants to have to rely on Cassel to throw the ball downfield – even Peyton Manning makes fun of Cassel’s arm strength.
Cassel’s glaring weakness has forced Linehan to lean on the running game. With the best offensive line in the league, the Cowboys have turned to Darren McFadden to carry the offense. It’s hard to think of anything less intimidating for defensive coordinators since it’s pretty easy to stop an offense when you know where the ball is going.
McFadden handled 20 of the Cowboys’ 30 rushes, and caught six of Cassel’s 13 pass completions. Primarily throwing check-downs, Cassel showed zero ability to get the ball into the hands of his team’s best playmaker (Bryant).
Despite the Cowboys pathetic offensive display, the Seahawks almost managed to match their ineptitude. Seattle actually had fewer drives resulting in points (3) than the Cowboys (4), but got into the end zone once.
Russell Wilson is given no time to throw behind his porous offensive line, and is a shell of the super-efficient quarterback we have grown accustomed to. Marshawn Lynch only averaged 3.4 yards per carry, and the Seattle offense once again struggled to find its rhythm. Jimmy Graham led the team with seven catches for 75 yards, but was surely thinking about how he would’ve caught four of Drew Brees’ seven touchdowns if he was still in New Orleans.
Wilson’s rag-tag group of receivers finally seems to be catching up with him, as he failed to throw multiple touchdowns for the sixth consecutive game. But as dumbfounding as Seattle’s offensive struggles have been, it is the Pete Carroll-Matt Cassel storyline that is the most surprising.
Carroll recruited Cassel to play at USC in 2000, where he ended up serving as a back-up to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart all four years of his career. Despite being a highly touted recruit, Cassel never got the opportunity to make a significant contribution to a Carroll-led team. Now 11 years later, the unthinkable happened – Matt Cassel was the reason Pete Carroll’s team came away with a victory.
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