A 2-7 Cleveland Browns team can be a deadly team to face this time of season. On Sunday, Cleveland will face off against the Dallas Cowboys in Texas. Despite losing to the Baltimore Ravens in week nine, the Browns have put together a string of respectable games. Here are the keys to success in beating the multiple personality Cowboys.
If I’m the Browns line backing group this week, I am watching all the film I can on Jason Witten. Witten leads all tight ends in the NFL with 66 receptions. He is Tony Romo‘s safety valve and often moves the chains. Stopping Witten will be a huge key in slowing down the Cowboys’ mistaken identity offense.
Welcome to Haden island Dez Bryant. It’s time for Joe Haden to step up and play like the star he is. Expect to see a lot of single coverage on Bryant and it will be up to Haden to make fantasy owners’ of Bryant very unhappy. Miles Austin is having a decent year on the other side and Cleveland’s defense will need to stay aware of where he is on the field. Sheldon Brown must use his veteran experience and play smart against Austin.
Get to the flat footed Romo early. Each Browns’ defensive lineman must step up to another level this week. Find a way to get to Romo and force him to make the consistent bad decisions he has been making all year long. Romo leads the entire league with 13 interceptions. The Browns’ secondary should be licking their chops as one of Romo’s duck passes are sure to float their way. A turnover through the air will increase Cleveland’s chances of pulling off the upset.
The Browns need their best game of the year out of the offensive line on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress and head coach Pat Shurmur would be smart to use play action fakes and roll outs. Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware will be hunting Brandon Weeden. Cleveland should keep it short and simple on offensive play calling. This does not mean running a three yard leak out to the flats on third down and seven.
Trent Richardson has had two weeks to get healthier from his rib cartilage injury. Give him the football and let him earn his pay check. It’s a very simple concept. TRich is coming off another one hundred yard performance and is gaining steam. Let him be the bell cow by eating up precious clock and yards.
Find a way to win the time of possession game. Four of Dallas’ six losses have come when losing the time of possession battle. If Cleveland can shorten up this contest with time, this game is winnable. The Browns will stand no chance in a shoot out in front of the Cowboys faithful.
It doesn’t matter who it is, but somebody on the Browns receiving corps needs to have a break out game. If Weeden can establish a favorite target, other than Richardson, they could catch the Cowboys off guard. This could open up a big play from someone else when the time comes.
The element of surprise may not be too bad of an idea. With nothing to lose, why not dip in to the old play book and use some trickery. A few years ago, Cleveland pulled this off against the New Orleans Saints and beat the former Super Bowl champions on their home turf. Why not try it this week?
Despite the losing record, nothing changes week to week. There is still a job to be done and a city to professionally represent. The young Browns need to believe they can win the game this weekend first. Once they do, everything else will take care of itself.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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