Both coaches get questions about their job security. Both quarterbacks have to answer to unsightly interception numbers. Other than that, Dallas and Cleveland are in different places going into today's game at Cowboys Stadium.
Both coaches get questions about their job security. Both quarterbacks have to answer to unsightly interception numbers.
Other than that, Dallas and Cleveland are in different places going into today’s game at Cowboys Stadium.
The Cowboys (4-5) made it through the difficult, road-heavy part of their schedule with their playoff path barely navigable, but navigable nonetheless. Tony Romo and company now get five of the season’s final seven games at home, and only one of those opponents — Pittsburgh — has a winning record.
The Browns (2-7) have more reason to think about next season than the postseason as they come off their bye week. After the Cowboys, Cleveland and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden still have the Steelers twice and a visit to Denver against Peyton Manning.
“I think you try to stay away from the schedule, whether it’s good or bad,” Dallas tight end Jason Witten said. “You really can’t worry about what’s outside, and what record, and who’s playing who. You’ve got to worry about your opponent that upcoming week. This league’s too hard to try to do anything else other than that.”
Two weeks ago, Romo was far ahead of Weeden and the other four rookie NFL starters with 13 interceptions. But Weeden and some veterans are closing in after Romo had consecutive turnover-free games against Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Cowboys didn’t defeat the Falcons, but they rallied past the Eagles, sparked in part by a Romo scramble and completion that kept Dallas from trailing going into the fourth quarter.
Dallas fans always have wondered what would happen if Romo combined risky magic acts with stingy ball protection, and they might find out in three straight home games ending with a Philadelphia rematch on Dec. 2.
“Every week he’s going to be challenged the same way,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We never want to get to the point where he’s got it down pat.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur has a stronger case for distractions than Garrett. He has a new owner, a new president and a 6-19 record in his second season. His roster is young and promising, starting with rookies Weeden, an older-than-usual newcomer who has 12 interceptions but is showing improvement, and receiver Josh Gordon, who leads first-year receivers with 417 yards and is tied for first with four touchdowns. Trent Richardson is third among rookie running backs with 575 yards rushing.
If Shurmur doesn’t keep his job, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could be a candidate to replace him. Ryan was the defensive coordinator in Cleveland for two seasons before coming to Dallas, and the reunion has been a hot topic this week.
Ryan’s first season in Dallas wasn’t good, but the Cowboys are holding steady at eighth in total defense despite losing star linebacker Sean Lee and safety Barry Church for the season, along with extended absences from several other key players.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to take a whole lot away from his time here because really, I mean, the personnel is nearly, totally different,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said. “I know guys on the defense love playing for him. He’s a guy who’s tough to prepare for because of how detailed he is and how he calls his games.”