ARLINGTON, Texas -- We're at the break here at Cowboys Stadium and the Cowboys trail the Saints, 17-14.
Here are our first-half adjustments:
1. The Cowboys have two playmakers on offense right now: Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Bryant has five catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Bryant has the ability to break tackles, which he did on his 58-yard reception, breaking free from two defenders on the way to the end zone. Murray helps Bryant so much. On Bryant's first touchdown reception, the Cowboys used a play-action pass with Murray and it forced Roman Harper to bite badly to leave Bryant with one-on-one coverage and Tony Romo will take advantage of that every time. In the second half, the Cowboys need to make sure Murray gets more touches along with Bryant. The game isn't out of reach and there's nothing wrong with running the ball in the second half.
2. Tight coverage in the secondary. Drew Brees is getting rid of the ball quickly and the Cowboys are giving his receivers too much room, or respect. We get it, the Saints have the third best offense in the NFL and despite the record and how bad the defense is, you have to respect it. But the Cowboys need to press the receivers at the line of scrimmage to give the pass rush time to reach Brees. Instead, we have Morris Claiborne, Mike Jenkins and Brandon Carr playing too much off coverage.
3. Sack Drew Brees. It's not easy to reach the quarterback when you rush four. And when you lose Ernie Sims (concussion) and Alex Albright (right knee sprain), you can't pick and choose who you want to blitz up the middle because you're limited in who can blitz based on injury. But Anthony Spencer got early pressure on Brees in the first quarter and since has dropped back in coverage at times and was penalized for being offsides. DeMarcus Ware is playing with a bad elbow and shoulder so that's affected his ability to rush the passer. Somehow, the Cowboys defense has to get to Brees.