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 – NOVEMBER 10: Kareem Hunt #27 of the Cleveland Browns runs with the ball during the game against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

1. Let loose the dawgs up the middle on offense

Just as the Dallas Cowboys don’t grade so super red hot on their offensive line, their defensive interior is not special. At edge rusher, the Cowboys made major investments in DeMarcus Lawrence, ancient Everson Griffen, and Aldon Smith who thus far have been good, but not great.

On the line, their story is even more vanilla. They usually feature a three-player line with a rotation of Trysten Hill, Dontari Poe, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods, none of whom have stood out against the run.

Meanwhile, the Browns are the No. 1 offensive line unit in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, and their strength is in the middle: guard Joel Bitonio, center J.C. Tretter and right guard Wyatt Teller. They only have Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and D’Ernest Johnson to run up the middle, so what say we run up the middle?

Those with a background in military history may appreciate that traditional theories of tank warfare called for the huge 10-ton armored vehicles (about the same weight as an NFL lineman) to concentrate their forces at a single breaking point the schwerpunkt in German, and the idea was to allow all your forces to pour through that hole. Well, the Cowboy’s schwerpunkt is right up the middle. Cleveland’s three best players line up against the weakest point in the Cowboys defense.

Let’s see what happens if we turn them loose.

Sometimes, though pro football is extremely complex, it can still be about finding that your team is bigger and stronger than the other guy’s team, realizing it and taking advantage of it. Sometimes it seems that teams do not believe that they are actually stronger than the other team and start running reverses and other forms of trickeration that they do not need. We saw that in 2019.

To some extent, we also saw that against the Ravens in the opening game, when the Browns started trying to force balls to OBJ and tried an ill-advised fake punt play even though the Ravens never stopped the Browns ground attack.

So make the Cowboys prove they can stop running plays up the middle before abandoning those plays. They may make Mike McCarthy’s life miserable.

The Browns need to be shown that they cannot make a living up the middle before they abandon the ground game between the tackles.

Next. 3 Overreactions to Week 3 win. dark

Who will let the dawgs out? Woof!  Woof!