Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) is pressured by Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

For The Dallas Cowboys, It Don’t Come Easy

Everyone knew the Cowboys would beat the lowly Cleveland Browns, right?  Well, after almost four hours of intense sitting on the edge of your seat viewing, they finally did.  It took more than half of an overtime period, but the Cowboys pulled it out.

Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) avoids the tackle during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Why did the Cowboys have such a difficult time putting the Browns away and how on earth did they end up down 13-0, before they made a comeback?  I would certainly put a lot of blame on the offensive line.  They were already struggling enough with Ryan Cook at center, but with Mackenzy Bernadeau sliding over from guard to center and Derrick Dockery taking his place at guard, they were decidedly worse.

Add to that left tackle Tyron Smith leaving the game with a high ankle sprain and being replaced by Jermey Parnell, the Cowboys had the makings of a real disaster on their hands.  This makeshift line certainly was the reason the Cowboys could hardly run the ball and why Tony Romo was sacked seven times.  But to Romo’s credit, he made just enough plays to win.

On defense the Cowboys seemed to struggle as well, not that allowing twenty points is all that bad.  That is unless your own offense really struggles to put up twenty or more points.  When that’s the case, a good defensive game would be holding the other team to about thirteen points.  It appears the Browns have a pretty good offensive line.  It was certainly much better the Eagles line the Cowboys faced last week.  And Trent Richardson is certainly a good running back.

But I expected the Cowboys’ defense to do a better of stopping the Browns’ receivers than they did.  These receivers just kept coming at the Cowboys all day and certainly made their share of good plays.  So much for this game being personal for Rob Ryan, because it was a defensive effort good enough to win and the Cowboys did make some timely stops, but not the best defensive effort I have seen from them this year.

I understand the importance of halftime adjustments and it was obvious the Cowboys made some that helped them in the second half.  But I always wonder why some of these adjustments can’t be made during the flow of the game, while that part of the team is on the sideline between series.

As I saw it, a defensive halftime adjustment was going away from the three man pass rush employed by the Cowboys in the first half that gave Brandon Weeden way too much time to find an open receiver.  Offensive adjustments consisted of de-emphasizing the running game and employing three step drops and quicker passes. 

It reminded me of the second game against the Giants last year, with the playoffs on the line.  The Cowboys struggled the whole first half and Romo couldn’t get anything going due to being harassed by the Giants defensive line.   In the second half the Cowboys went to quick slant passes with Romo taking three step drops. 

The Cowboys began to score some points, but didn’t have a defense that could hold the Giants back.  If that adjustment had been made earlier, maybe they would have won.

In this game, the Browns corners were susceptible to being beat, but Romo didn’t have time to see his receivers and get the ball to them.  The halftime adjustments took care of that and it resulted in more completed passes and numerous defensive penalties by the Browns corners.

For those that think all of the Cowboys ills would be cured if they just traded Romo for someone like Phillip Rivers for instance, that’s pure nonsense.  When the Cowboys win, Romo’s style of play is a big part of it.  You put someone like Phillip Rivers behind this line there would be even more sacks and interceptions than we’ve already seen this year.

Next up, is the Washington Redskins.  Yeah, I know they have a terrible record.  But if we had a difficult time putting the Browns and Weeden away, what’s it going to be like trying to stop RG III (Robert Griffin III)?  Something tells me I will be hanging onto the edge of my seat again in just a few days.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Rob Ryan Tony Romo

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