DAL-SEA grades: Ezekiel Elliott has promising Cowboys debut

We've got grades and takeaways from Seahawks' 27-17 preseason win over the Cowboys, including strong RB performances for both teams.

| 3 months ago
(Otto Greule Jr., Getty Images)

(Otto Greule Jr., Getty Images)

DAL-SEA grades: Ezekiel Elliott has promising Cowboys debut


Seattle Seahawks 27, Dallas Cowboys 17

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Seahawks’ 27-17 victory over the Cowboys:

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback grade: Tony Romo, N/A; Dak Prescott, 70.2

Romo exits after just two plays, but rookie Prescott solid in relief

Well, we got to see Tony Romo for two total dropbacks before every Cowboys fan in the country’s heart sank. Seahawks DE Cliff Avril chopped down Romo from behind while he was sliding, and the quarterback lay motionless on the ground, cradling his back. The early prognosis was positive, thankfully, as Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said the injury is not serious. The injury meant we got to see more of the rookie Dak Prescott, who wasn’t as electric in this game as he was the first two weeks of preseason, but still performed admirably against the vaunted Seahawks defense. Prescott completed 17 of his 23 passes.

PrescottPassingChart

Top offensive grades:
C Travis Frederick, 81.2
FB Keith Smith, 78.0
WR Rodney Smith, 77.3
G Boston Stiverson, 75.7
C Joe Looney, 73.2

Ezekiel Elliott has an impressive Cowboys debut

No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott saw his first action of the preseason, and he did not disappoint. The rookie running back had seven carries for 48 yards (6.9 yards per rush), including 17 after contact, which is a good way to start his pro career. He also flashed his exceptional body control when he spun out of a Kam Chancellor tackle in the first quarter.

Top defensive grades:
LB Sean Lee, 80.1
CB Brandon Carr, 77.7
LB Brandon Hepburn, 77.0
DE Lawrence Okoye, 76.6
DT Cedric Thornton, 76.2

Defensive line play remains a big question mark for Dallas

Even against an underwhelming Seahawks offensive line, the Cowboys defensive line was ineffective all day. No player on that unit notched a grade higher than Lawrence Okoye’s 76.6, and they managed to pressure Seahawks quarterbacks on only five of their 25 dropbacks. It’s easily the Cowboys’ biggest question mark heading into the season.

Get the Cowboys’ complete, in-depth 2016 season preview right here.

Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 68.6

Russell Wilson looks ready to pick up where he left off last season

Russell Wilson missed a handful of throws in this game that we routinely see him make, but as is usually the case with the Seahawks quarterback, the good outweighed the bad. He completed six of his nine attempts targeted 10 or more yards downfield. His decision-making was impeccable, and he avoided any egregious decisions. All in all, Wilson looks poised to pick up in Week 1 where he left off last season, when he ranked as the No. 5 QB in PFF grades.

Top offensive grades:
RB Christine Michael, 75.9
G Jahri Evans, 75.4
WR Paul Richardson, 75.0
TE Brandon Williams, 74.6
C Joey Hunt, 72.0

RB Christine Michael has another strong performance

The hype train isn’t stopping anytime soon, as Christine Michael looked explosive as can be Thursday night. He broke two long runs for no other reason than defenders took bad angles after failing to anticipate his excellent burst. He broke two tackles on seven carries, and is now averaging 3.3 yards after contact per attempt for the preseason. With Thomas Rawls still not able to play due to injury, it’s unclear what the running back situation will be for Seattle when the regular season arrives.

Top defensive grades:
LB Bobby Wagner, 86.9
LB Brock Croyle, 80.2
DE Michael Bennett, 78.8
DT Brandin Bryant, 77.5
CB Richard Sherman, 75.9

Bobby Wagner shows why he is one of the NFL’s top inside linebackers

After a bit of a rough go of it last week against the Vikings, Bobby Wagner came back in a big way this week. He made four stops without missing a single tackle and added a pressure for good measure. This was a very clean performance from one of the best middle linebackers in the league. The Seattle pass-rushers also showed up, as Michael Bennett and Frank Clark produced three hurries each, while Cliff Avril recorded two sacks and a hurry.

Get the Seahawks’ complete, in-depth 2016 season preview right here.

Seahawks 2016 season preview

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • osoviejo

    So Elliot didn’t have one of the Cowboys’ top offensive grades?

    • Paul Quigley

      Assumption being that he didn’t have enough snaps?

      • osoviejo

        He had the same number of carries as Michael. And be that as it may, I’ve never heard PFF talk about a snap count threshold for grades.

        • Paul Quigley

          I meant enough snaps to truly excel (being his first pro snaps after all) not a comment on the grading system at all :)

        • Joe Doe

          I did not have the opportunity to watch the game, but my assumption would be that his line was more responsible for his 6.9 ypc than he was. It notes just one broken tackle. Reminds me of the Aaron Rodgers game win 5 TD and 0 picks for a neutral grade, the reason being that his wr’s were open all game and he didn’t make any throws that another qb couldn’t have. That being said, one could argue that to continously be making the right decisions (picking the right hole for a rb or throwing to the open receiver) being graded neutrally, as I believe it is, understates a player’s performance.

  • Shoutout to all the guest

    Nothing on ifedi? Asides from the pf it looked like he played lights out

  • Shoutout to all the guest

    Very proud of the seahawks starting oline

  • nonono

    With all the changes to the site, the only thing I wish stayed was the raw grades. The 0 – 100 scale isn’t as intuitive and I doubt PFF’s internal team relies on this scale for their own evaluation. Very disappointing because the whole point of the site was to give us the information and let us come up with our own conclusions.

    • KWS13

      Agreed, the scaling on a per game basis is very questionable to me, I understand it for long term grading to accommodate for performance OVER TIME, but doesn’t appear to make sense conceptually for in game grading; for instance Russell Wilson’s 68.6 suggests that he played fairly poorly despite all evidence to the contrary.

    • Joe Doe

      $1,500 a year for the die-hard fan to get those raw grades. Just a tad bit more than the $5/month I think it was before. The raw grades were so much better than this, but at least these ratings are based on raw grades. Still better than most websites.

      • Anicra

        Ya the really screwed their long time customers. When they needed the initial invest people payed 19 dollars to see something the new and interesting. Now that they are getting noticed, they jack up the price 100x.

    • Constantine

      Yea, BRING BACK PREMIUM STATS TO THE AVERAGE CONSUMER! PLEASE! Sorry for the caps, but this Martin Shkreli business decision to price us all out just stinks.