ARLINGTON, Texas -- We're at the break here at Cowboys Stadium, and the home opener has been ugly. Somehow, the Cowboys lead the Buccaneers 10-7 at halftime.
Here are our halftime adjustments:
Curtail the penalties. The Cowboys were flagged for six false-start penalties in the first half. Left tackle Doug Free was called for four and tight end Jason Witten got two. We're not sure if it's a cadence issue with new center Ryan Cook. One of the false-start penalties came when both Free and Witten moved but the ball wasn't snapped. Still, these false starts are more about concentration than anything else.
Keep is simple on offense. On the first offensive snap of the game, the Cowboys had Felix Jones as a wide receiver and the team tried a screen pass that fell incomplete. Keep it simple. The Cowboys had two offensive possessions where they didn't get the ball to running back DeMarco Murray, who has their lone touchdown in the game. Murray needs his touches. In the first half, Murray had 12 yards on 10 carries, but he's a better option than Felix Jones, who didn't get any carries in the first half. Coach Jason Garrett also went with a slight hurry-up offense, which did keep Tampa Bay off balance, but it didn't generate enough scoring. In the second half, the Cowboys need to keep it simple with their base stuff, two-tight end and two-receiver sets. Lawrence Vickers, the fullback, also needs more snaps in the second half. Cowboys have to establish the run game if they're going to make this a game.
Where are Dez and Miles? Here's all you need to know about the first half: The first reception of the half for Dez Bryant was on a hitch resulting in a 2-yard loss. Austin has two catches for 20 yards, and miscommunication led to an incompletion on a pass to the end zone. The Cowboys have to get Austin and Bryant into the offense, and through 10 quarters of the season, that's been inconsistent. That has to change moving forward. Garrett needs to get Austin open on those slant routes where he can beat one-on-one coverage and try to take some deep passes to Bryant down the field, if the protection is there.
What we didn't like: Witten has two drops today. He leads the NFL with six on the season.