When the Cleveland Browns face the Cowboys at Dallas on Sunday, they will be competing against a team that has won two of its last four games, including a 38-23 decision at the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
Led by veteran quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys have outgained their opponents 3,354 to 2,869 in total yardage, but have been outscored in the first, second and fourth quarters of their games.
Romo has completed 230 of 344 attempts for 2,603 yards with 12 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Tight end Jason Witten has 66 catches for 585 yards and one touchdown, while wide receivers Dez Bryant (45-590-three) and Miles Austin (43-669-four) have also been key contributors in the passing game.
“He’s one of those types of guys that can extend the play, can move around in the pocket,” defensive lineman Phil Taylor said. “We just have to get to him and wrap him up. That’s the only thing with him. He’s a good quarterback and to play (well) against him, we have to beat the one-on-ones in the pass rush and wrap him up because if we let him run around the pocket, he can hurt us.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur feels Romo’s best quality as a quarterback may be his ability to keep plays alive by scrambling around, or in some cases, out of the pocket when Dallas’ protection breaks down.
“I think the game is never over when he’s got the ball in his hand,” Shurmur said. “He’s got outstanding weapons to throw the football to. Jason Witten leads all tight ends with 66 receptions. He’s got explosive players on the outside. They run the ball well. He’s proven that he can win games in this league. He has the ability to make big-time plays and I think that’s what makes him dangerous.”
Romo is not the only Cowboy who is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are among the team leaders in receptions, yards, yards per catch and receiving touchdowns.
“Both of them have good size -- six-foot and over -- and speed to go with it,” said Browns defensive back
Asked what advice he would give to the Browns’ defensive backs if they are defending Bryant, Weeden said, “Get physical with him, bump him around a little bit. Let him know you’re there.”
“I saw some things I’ve never seen anybody do running routes, catching the football,” Weeden said of Bryant. “He’s unbelievable. I like to say he’s grown up a lot. When we came in, he was an immature kid that had a long way to go. He’s a great kid. You’ll never find a better guy, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ As a person, he’s one of my favorite guys I’ve ever played with.”
While Romo, Witten, Bryant and Austin will be the focal points of the Cowboys’ offense Sunday, the Browns also will be contending with a physical defense.
Under the direction of former Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Cowboys rank in the NFL’s top ten in total and passing defense. They have allowed the eighth-fewest total yards and seventh-fewest passing yards through the first 10 weeks of the 2012 regular season.
Eight-year veteran linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware leads the team and is tied with Aldon Smith of San Francisco and Miami’s Cameron Wake for third in the NFL with 9.5 sacks. Only Houston’s J.J. Watt (10.5) and Denver’s Von Miller (10) have more sacks than Ware, Smith and Wake.
“If you don’t cover him up, he can make a lot of trouble in the backfield, whether you’re throwing the ball or running the ball,” Browns running back
Second-year linebacker Bruce Carter is one of those linebackers that garnered the attention of the Browns on film. Browns wide receiver
“He’s starting to play more, sideline-to-sideline,” Little said. “I talked with him (Tuesday) night and we kind of joke about what we see from each other on the tape. He’s a very athletic guy and to see him have to get the defense lined up, make the calls, set the front, he’s really grown. He was just always a freak athlete. I think ESPN did a thing on him being the No. 1 freak in the country in college. The numbers that he put up in the weight room were just ridiculous.”
On the back end of the Cowboys’ defense, rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne has registered 32 total tackles, 27 solo stops, one interception, a fumble recovery and six passes defended. Last week, Claiborne was penalized five times in the win over the Eagles.
“You look at Mo Claiborne over there and he’s an aggressive guy,” Weeden said. “He’s a really hands-on guy. They like to play physical; they’re bigger corners. Their safeties are guys that will fly around and hit you. I see a good secondary. I see a veteran defense. The guys up front are really good. The linebackers are good, veteran players that can run and make plays.”The all new Browns Fan4Pack is on sale now! The all-inclusive game day package includes 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 Pepsi Products, 4 game programs and 1 parking pass for home games versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9 or the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16. Click here to purchase today!