Sunday, December 30, 2012
Halftime Adjustments: Cowboys 7, Redskins 7
By Calvin Watkins
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Cowboys and Redskins are tied, 7-7 in the de facto NFC East championship game. We have our final regular-season halftime adjustments.
* Create turnovers. The Washington Redskins have intercepted Tony Romo twice, but the Cowboys have none against their opponent. In a close game like this, a turnover might be the key. The Cowboys are struggling to stop the run; the Redskins rushed for 124 yards in the first half. Alfred Morris, who has 92 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown, is punishing the Cowboys' front. However, it seems Robert Griffin III is struggling to pass the ball. He just doesn't look comfortable in the pocket and doesn't have his normal burst. He's wearing a brace over his knee that looks like a small cast. With Griffin off in the passing game, the Cowboys need to pick him off. They aren't going to pressure the quarterback because defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is only sending four or five defenders. So it's up to the secondary to make plays.
* Take advantage of Dez Bryant. The talented wide receiver is seeing double coverage. Bryant was doubled on the last pass play of the first half and Romo still attempted a throw in his direction. However, the Cowboys must use Bryant on slants, where he gets one-on-one coverage. Bryant breaks tackles because he's so physical after he catches the ball. At this stage of the season, Bryant is the most dangerous player on the field for the Cowboys. He's got at least one touchdown in each of the last seven weeks, and it's probably time to feed him.
* Pick up the blitz. It resulted in a 1-yard completion, but if the Cowboys are expected to win, protecting Romo is key. Romo was knocked down at least three times in the first half, one on a safety blitz. Romo was sacked just once in the first half, which is good, but he's feeling the pressure. Over the course of the game, he might get rattled if it keeps up. We've seen Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray stay in the backfield to help with max protection. The Cowboys can't keep that up all game, so Romo has to get rid of the ball quicker.