Can this Dallas Cowboys defender shutdown Jimmy Graham?

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Tight end Jimmy Graham
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Tight end Jimmy Graham /

The Dallas Cowboys biggest offensive threat on Sunday afternoon may be the Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham. Is this Dallas defender the answer to shutting him down?

The Dallas Cowboys will face the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon with their seasons on the line. Both Dallas and Seattle will be trying to keep their slim playoff lives alive, as the loser of the upcoming matchup will be eliminated from any playoff contention.

For the Cowboys, they are riding a three-game winning streak, they will have their superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield after serving a six-game suspension and they’ll be playing at home, in AT&T Stadium.

For the Seahawks, the news isn’t as good. Seattle arrives in Arlington, Texas have come off losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars (30-24) and a blowout defeat at the hands of the red hot Los Angeles Rams, 42-7. Prior to their two-game skid, the Seahawks posted a two-game winning streak which included an impressive victory over Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-10.

But the vaunted Seahawks’ defense has taken a major hit this season, with names like cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Cliff Avril and strong safety Kam Chancellor all on Injured Reserve.

Although Seattle is a shell of themselves, it doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. Especially with four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson under center. And Wilson’s favorite redzone target this season has, of course, been his 6-foot-7, 260 pound tight end, Jimmy Graham.

Now in his third season in Seattle, Graham currently leads the team with nine touchdown receptions. In fact, he’s recorded five of those scores since Week 10. But Graham has also been held scoreless in the Seahawks’ last two games, recording just one catch for -1 yards on five total targets in both losses.

Graham has been dealing with an ankle and a knee injury, which may partially explain why he’s been so ineffective as of late. But there appears to be a direct correlation between the 31-year old tight end’s success and Seattle’s win/loss column.

So for the Cowboys, shutting down Graham should be a key to winning this matchup. And Dallas may have the perfect defender to do so in safety Byron Jones.

"“Rod Marinelli likes to mix his coverages in the secondary and the personnel that he puts with certain key opponents. How Marinelli handles Jimmy Graham will be interesting,” wrote football analyst Bryan Broaddus on “My gut tells me that as much as Marinelli wants to mix that coverage, he’s going to put Byron Jones on him and focus on other areas.”"

Byron Jones has been a bit of a disappointment in Dallas this season. The former first rounder’s play seems to have plateaued, leaving the Cowboys with an above average athlete with no discernible football instincts. And due to his lack of both tackling and playmaking ability, Dallas has opted to swap him out with second-year thumper Kavon Frazier every other series.

But the one thing the 6’0, 205 pound Jones can do is cover tight ends. The versatile safety has the speed to stick with today’s speedsters at the position and well as the athleticism to deal with their height advantage.

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Although Byron Jones has been a bit of a bust this season, which is partially due to high draft expectations, his ability to blanket a tight ends like Jimmy Graham could be the key to Dallas extending their playoff chances … for one more game, at least.