Sunday, November 18, 2012
Haltime adjustments: Browns 13, Cowboys 0
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Well this is a surprise. The Cowboys trail the Browns 13-0 at halftime.
Here are the halftime adjustments.
1. Get the offense going. The Cowboys have just 68 yards of total offense and are averaging 2.1 yards per carry. Tony Romo has been sacked three times, and right tackle Doug Free is struggling against the pass rush again. It's not like Free is getting two defenders sent his way. He couldn't handle Jabaal Sheard, who blew by him to sack Romo on the last offensive possession for the Cowboys for the half. The run game is bad. It needs DeMarco Murray, like today, but he's not ready to return from that sprained foot. So all we have is a slow-moving Felix Jones, who can't find any running lanes. The Cowboys must get their playmakers -- Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin -- the ball in the second half. I've always said you need to run the football, but in this case, with the offensive line struggling to make holes, it's probably time to spread it out and get the passing game going. Romo can't have many missed throws going in the next 30 minutes. He's got to be on point. He seems to be too long on his deep passes. One last thing: get Cole Beasley on the field more out of the slot.
2. More pressure on the quarterback. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the game against the Browns would be personal. He hasn't shown it. He's not blitzing Brandon Weeden, a rookie quarterback with 12 interceptions on the season, and has a secondary that lost safety Danny McCray (hip) briefly and doesn't have defensive end Kenyon Coleman. Ryan needs to bring the heat in the second half. He's got two outstanding pass rushers, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, who've been stopped one-on-one and has a defensive attack with zero sacks after one half. When the Cowboys did blitz, they sent slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick flying after Weeden. Scandrick, however, committed a bad penalty by sending his forearm into the helmet of Weeden and getting whistled for a 15-yard penalty. What made the penalty so bad was that Weeden threw an incompletion on third down. The drive stayed alive and the Browns got a field goal. We'd like to see Ernie Sims blitz a little in the second half and maybe even start over Dan Connor, who returned to the lineup.
3. Play with some fire. Jason Garrett likes to defer if he wins the coin toss to get the crowd on his team's side at the start of the game for the defense in the first half. Cleveland won the toss this time and deferred, so the Cowboys need to come out for the final 30 minutes and get the crowd involved in the game. It's not about sending emails to season ticket holders, it's about the Cowboys making plays to get the crowd fired up. And that didn't happen in the first half.