Sunday, October 21, 2012
Halftime adjustments: Panthers 7, Cowboys 3
By Calvin Watkins
CHARLOTTE -- After one half, Carolina leads Dallas, 7-3. Here are some adjustments for the Cowboys to make for the second half.
1. Run the football. Nothing wrong with passing it because Tony Romo is having a good afternoon. He finished the first half 12-for-15 for 98 yards. But with no DeMarco Murray (sprained foot), Felix Jones gets the call. After one half, he has 36 yards on nine carries. Jones is running well and cutting up field and getting into the second level. But with center Phil Costa (leg) out for the game, it's going to be interesting to see the Cowboys run between the tackles. Jones doesn't have the speed to get off the edge, but he's a good inside runner. With Ryan Cook taking over at center, we'll see how he'll do up front.
2. Contain Cam Newton. He runs away from defenders, he fakes pitches, he's got a strong arm and he escapes pressure. The Cowboys have to find a way to contain him in the pocket. It's a hard thing to do, especially when he has 64 yards on five carries, including scrambles of 24, 15 and 21 yards. Cowboys linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer can run with Newton, but he's big at 6-5, 245 pounds, making him hard to bring down. Some thought the Cowboys would have a spy on Newton, maybe inside linebacker Bruce Carter, but we didn't see much of that in the first half. The Cowboys have to go back to that.
3. Create turnovers. Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan talked about turnovers but said it's not about that, it's about takeovers. The Cowboys got their first interception from the secondary when Morris Claiborne intercepted a Newton pass in the end zone. But the Cowboys have given the ball away, too. Miles Austin fumbled, leading to a Carolina touchdown. In this second half, the Cowboys must get some turnovers, whether it's a strip sack from Ware or a pick from the $50 million corner Brandon Carr, something needs to happen.