Keys to the Week 9 clash with the Cowboys
It is a fine line for the Browns when it comes to bringing extra blitzers, as their secondary needs all the help it can get. But against a team like the Cowboys, putting the quarterback under unbearable pressure is the only plausible way to slow their offense down.
One of the challenges the Cowboys present Cleveland with is their offensive line, whose lightest starter weighs 310 pounds. In response to this, the Browns must take advantage of the line’s biggest weakness, pass protection. They ought to place emphasis on the right side of the line, as right tackle Doug Free has experienced issues. Exploiting this slight crack in an otherwise solid unit is the only way for the Browns to break through.
On the right side, Cleveland’s options include Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib. If these rookie defenders are sent, they will have an opportunity to expand on already impressive rookie seasons. Jamie Meder and Danny Shelton can also help out on the defensive line, as they can oftentimes occupy multiple linemen and open up opportunities for linebackers or safeties to penetrate and collapse the pocket.
Most importantly though, the Browns must remember to keep containment and not allow Prescott to burn them on the ground. Broken plays for opposing offenses have often ended up working against the Browns this season, ruining all the effort made to break the play in the first place. To ensure that this does not occur against Dallas, outside linebackers must be on the top of their game. Christian Kirksey and Demario Davis will be critical, but it will also come down to how well the secondary can hold up against the Cowboys and their explosive receiving threats in Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley.
Prescott will most likely rollout to the left side when the Browns attack the right. This is a major concern for the Browns as left tackle Tryon Smith has been the most dominant for Dallas thus far. This underscores the need for the outside linebackers to contain the pocket and not allow Prescott to run free. If the Browns can do this, they will be able to pressure the quarterback without losing containment. This aggressive but not reckless approach is the best way to go.
Clearly, this involves quite a risk. Many are upset by this, as it opposes everything they are told in analytics. But the bottom line is, the Browns are 0-8, and the Cowboys are 6-1. The Browns allow 29.8 points per game, and the Cowboys are ranked seventh, scoring 26.9. The Browns aren’t going to win with a conventional game plan.