Cowboys open October home blitz with Baker, Browns
The Dallas Cowboys have racked up nearly 1,500 yards total offense in three games but only have one win to show for it.
Thanks to a poor turnover ratio and a porous defense, the Cowboys are 1-2 but atop the NFC East.
Their chance to begin moving toward bigger goals begins with the first of three consecutive October home games. The Cleveland Browns (2-1) ride into Dallas with wins over the Washington Football Team and Cincinnati Bengals.
“By no means are we a clean football team right now. We need to execute better,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said after last Sunday’s 38-31 loss in Seattle.
The Cowboys’ six turnovers have led to 31 points for their opponents, nearly a third of the 97 total points Dallas has surrendered. On the flip side, Dallas has scored only three points off two takeaways. Only the Minnesota Vikings (minus-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (minus-7) have a worse turnover ratio than the Cowboys’ minus-4.
With starting cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Anthony Brown (ribs) on injured reserve, the secondary was shredded by MVP front-runner Russell Wilson (315 yards, five touchdowns) of the Seahawks.
“There are things we’ve got to correct in practice,” rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs said. “We’re going to get it right. It’s just communication. That’s it. That’s literally it.”
Dallas is 30th in the NFL in scoring defense (32.3), 28th in passing defense (277.0) and 26th in total defense (404.7), effectively canceling out the prolific start by Dak Prescott and the offense.
Prescott leads the league in completions (96), attempts (143) and passing yards (1,188). Three receivers — Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb — have more than 200 yards, and two-time NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season.
Cleveland’s two-game winning streak includes Sunday’s 34-20 victory against Washington. Baker Mayfield tossed two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb rushed for two scores and the Browns climbed above .500 for the first time since 2014.
“We’re just trying to get to 1-0 every week,” coach Kevin Stefanski said, attempting to downplay the significance or perhaps temper expectations for a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002.
Baltimore demolished the Browns in Week 1.
The Browns have lost the last four meetings with Dallas and haven’t beaten the Cowboys in Texas since 1994, the year before Mayfield and Chubb were born.
Chubb is coming off back-to-back 100-yard, two-TD games and the Browns rank third in the NFL in rushing (170.3). Mayfield has only attempted 85 passes, 27th in the league, in coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s conservative offense. Odell Beckham Jr., who had some big days against Dallas while with the New York Giants, leads the team with 155 yards on 11 catches.
Anchoring the other side of the ball is defensive end Myles Garrett, who will challenge a Dallas offensive line dealing with injuries to tackles Tyron Smith (neck) and La’el Collins (hip). Collins isn’t ready to return from IR and Smith missed practice Wednesday. Garrett already has three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
“That is really what we expect from Myles. I know he expects it of himself,” Stefanski said. “We need him to play great, and when it turns into a pass-rush game, he is built for that. You get an honest day’s work out of Myles Garrett.”
Browns running back Kareem Hunt (groin), cornerback Denzel Ward (groin) and left guard Joel Bitonio (back) all missed practice Wednesday. Stefanski said Bitonio and Hunt are day-to-day.