5 Keys to the game: Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys

Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns
CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 17: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns is unable to make a reception in the end zone as Darius Phillips #23 of the Cincinnati Bengals defends in the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated Cincinnati 35-30. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

4. Take a deep shot versus eight-in-the-box

This is not exactly a newsflash, but the Cowboys are not dumb. Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan both read Dawg Pound Daily, and they now know that the Browns will run the football. Hence, they are going to dial up some run-stopping eight-in-the-box and even nine-in-the-box formations to try to stop the Browns running game.

In that case, in order to keep them honest, Baker Mayfield is going to have to respond with passes to punish the lack of respect if, in fact, that is what the offense faces. These wouldn’t be just dink-and-dunk passes, but deep enough and automatic enough to eliminate overstacking the defensive front as a viable option for the Cowboys.

If the Cowboys are offering man coverage on both OBJ and Landry, Baker should be able to strike deep on the run-pass option and make them pay. Any NFL quarterback should throw for 300 yards plus in that situation.

With the fast field, it could be an ideal surface for Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, both of whom spent most of their careers on synthetic turf. Bring your fastest shoes, guys.

This may sound a little contradictory because this writer has been carping for over a year to stop targeting OBJ so frequently. In general, that is true. If the Browns become too predictable, it is an opportunity to throw interceptions.

However, if the opponents are going to dare the Browns to throw to him, and are taking coverage players away to devote to stopping the run, then they have to take the dare.