In preparing to face Dallas on Sunday, Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur has studied videotape of the opponent and learned what the Cowboys like to do on each side of the ball.
Shurmur has seen a team that is able to get pressure on a quarterback differently than it did last season and a ground game that offers challenges because of the different types of running backs.
Despite not utilizing as many blitzes as they have in seasons past, the Cowboys have registered 18 sacks for 117 lost yards and 86 quarterback pressures in their first nine games.
In 2011, Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who held the same position with the Browns from 2009-10, used many exotic fronts and schemes designed to help the pass rush, when the Cowboys had 42 sacks for 243 lost yards.
“I think you always look back at what they’ve liked to do at other places, but then, I think it’s extremely important to watch the coordinator working with the players that he has and the situation that he’s in,” Shurmur said of game-planning for the Cowboys' defense. “I’m sure there are going to be wrinkles that we’re going to see. For the most part, the way they play the game, it will be similar. Every team puts in wrinkles for each new opponent. Having some of that knowledge of what he likes to do may help. We’ll see.”
The Cowboys have two running backs able to produce yardage and points. DeMarco Murray has gained 330 yards and scored one touchdown on 75 attempts, while Felix Jones has totaled 278 yards and a team-best two touchdowns on 74 carries. Murray averages 4.4 yards per carry and Jones, 3.8.
“When it comes to the running game, I think you prepare the same way by the way you’re trying to defend them,” Shurmur said. “They are similar in a lot of ways, I think. I think they both can be very effective. Defending the run, you don’t change it too much, depending on who the running back is because defending the run is kind of a scheme team thing.”
LEARNING THE GAME
The Browns began the season with 25 first and second-year players on the active roster. As the season progressed, Shurmur said he expected the younger players to show improvement as they gained more experience on the field.
“I anticipate it because I believe in the players that we have on this roster, the more they played, the better they would get,” Shurmur said.
OUT OF PRACTICE
For the second straight day, Browns defensive back
“At this point, he’ll be a game-time decision,” Shurmur said. “I think we listed it as an oblique strain. It’s something that can happen with a very harmless movement. We’ll just see where he’s at. He feels better today. On game day, we’ll decide if he can go.
“We’ll get him ready to go and if he can play, he will. If not, then we’ll adjust.”
NEXT MAN UP
Shurmur said that if Haden cannot play against the Cowboys, “the next guy will do a terrific job.”
“We’re going to load up the plane with our guys, go down there and play a football game,” Shurmur said. “I’m excited about the work we put in. I’m excited about the team we’re going to take down there, and we’re going to make every effort to do what it takes to win the game.”
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