ARLINGTON, Texas -- This was an ugly first half, which leads us to the halftime adjustments.
1. It's time to bench Dez Bryant the punt returner. You can't sit him as a receiver because you don't have confidence in Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris or Cole Beasley. But Bryant's inconsistency is hurting his development and the Cowboys. He didn't fight for the ball on an interception thrown by Tony Romo. He also dropped a punt, then fumbled it after securing it. Both mistakes led to Giants points, and that's unacceptable for a first-round pick. Beasley and Harris took over for Bryant on punt returns late in the first half, and when the Cowboys scored their touchdown Romo didn't direct any passes his way. Romo did complete a 55-yard pass to Bryant when he beat cornerback Corey Webster down the field. It appears as if Webster thought he had safety help and let Bryant go. Romo did throw one other time to Bryant in the first half, but the ball was incomplete.
2. Cut the turnovers. For the Cowboys this seems like a hard thing to do, but Romo threw three interceptions and Bryant muffed the punt. For the season, the Cowboys have turned the ball over 17 times. When the offense does this, it makes it hard on the defense to keep opponents out of the end zone when backed up in its own territory. Most of the points allowed in this first half can't be blamed on the defense. There were two long returns on the interceptions to go with Bryant's fumble. In the second half, the Cowboys have to make big plays and not lose the football. Jason Garrett always talks about NFL teams succeeding when they win the turnover battle. The Cowboys are losing it, having committed four to the Giants' one.
3. Pitch a shutout. It's hard to do, but the Cowboys have to shut out the Giants offense in the second half. The Giants haven't really smashed the Cowboys' defense this afternoon. It seems the front seven are doing a nice job of controlling the Giants run game, and Eli Manning is getting knocked down. Rob Ryan doesn't have inside linebacker Dan Connor, so he's going to have to rely on Orie Lemon and Bruce Carter, who has played well, to keep the run game in check. The secondary has been tested a few times deep, but Orlando Scandrick has a pass breakup and the coverage from Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne has been good.