ATLANTA -- The Cowboys and Falcons are tied after one half at the Georgia Dome.
Here are our first-half adjustments:
1. The Cowboys' running game is poor right now. After 30 minutes, the Cowboys have 29 rushing yards. You can blame the loss of DeMarco Murray (foot sprain) for the problems, but when you see Phillip Tanner run into fullback Lawrence Vickers on a third-and-1 from the 49, you begin to wonder: Is it the line or the running backs? Felix Jones, who is playing with a bruised knee and a neck problem, has 15 yards on six carries. It seems Lance Dunbar has been getting more time on offense over Tanner and in some cases Jones. The Cowboys need to get the run game going somehow. Jason Garrett might be pulling his red hair out over the lack of it in this first half. The Cowboys are not getting enough push up front or good runs between the tackles.
2. Keep the pressure on Matt Ryan. The Falcons quarterback gets rid of the ball quickly and has max protection but the Cowboys are getting hits on him, from DeMarcus Ware's strip sack to Jay Ratliff's hit on him. The Cowboys have to get on him. If the pressure continues maybe Ryan will make a mistake. Ratliff left late in the first half with a left leg injury. He limped to the locker room, and his status is unknown. In the meantime, a href="http://espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/13923/josh-brent">Josh Brent will be asked to do more inside at nose tackle. I do like how the Cowboys are using Ware. He's lined up at defensive end and then of course at outside linebacker. There was a nice alignment in which Bruce Carter and Ware were lined up on the same side. Rob Ryan is trying to keep the Falcons off balance by using different defenders to blitz.
3. Force a turnover. The Falcons are plus-10 in the NFL in turnover-ratio. The Cowboys have to get one. The Falcons don't make too many mistakes, especially at home. But if the Cowboys get pressure on Ryan, maybe the secondary can make a play. Morris Claiborne struggled in the first half, allowing a big pass play to Julio Jones. At some point, Brandon Carr, the $50.1 million cornerback, has to make a play on the ball.