It’s going to take more than benching cornerback Anthony Brown for the Cowboys’ defense to play better.
Sure, Brown has struggled at times this season, allowing five touchdowns and being penalized nine times in the season’s first 11 games.
“A lot of time it’s just technique,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said of Brown’s penalties. “He works as hard as any guy out here, preparation and everything, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to be better with our hands.
“We control penalties ourselves either by concentration, self-control or good judgment. We’ve got to use one of those three. That’s all under our control.”
Brown, a sixth-round pick last season, said he’s not playing any differently than he did as a rookie. Still, the flags come nearly every game.
“I don’t know, man. I watch every NFL game, I don’t see nothing different with what other DBs do to what I do, but I just get the calls,” he said. “So I have to deal with it.”
There’s no guarantee Brown’s probable replacement, rookie second-round pick Chido Awuzie, will be better.
Awuzie has played just 19 snaps since Week 1 against the New York Giants because of a nagging hamstring. And when he has practiced over the past few weeks much of that time has been spent at safety.
Now, the Cowboys will ask Awuzie to play cornerback against one of the NFL’s top passing attacks.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has passes for 3,038 yards with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He has five 300-yard games, one behind league leader Tom Brady, and he’s tied for third in the NFL with 45 completions of 20 yards or more. Drew Brees leads the NFL with 49.
You could make the argument promoting Awuzie is a panic move at worst or making a change just for the sake of making a change.
That’s because it doesn’t seem like Awuzie is being put in the best position to succeed, something coach Jason Garrett emphasizes he that tries to do with young players.
Understand, the Cowboys’ defensive problems are bigger than Brown.
The Cowboys do not have a turnover in their last 29 possessions and they don’t have a sack in their last 27 possessions.
While the defense has played relatively well in the first half of the last three games, allowing just 22 total points.
They’ve been awful in the second half, which is why the Cowboys have been outscored 69-7 in the second half. The defense has allowed 55 of those points.
But don’t expect any scheme changes from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli because they’re not coming. Marinelli has seen this scheme win a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay in 2002.
He knows it works.
So he ain’t interested in hearing how Philip Rivers felt so comfortable against the scheme he was calling out the Cowboys’ blitzes before the snap, according to one defensive starter.
“I’ve been around it when it has had unbelievable success and I’ve been around it when it didn’t. Once you vacillate, you are done to me,” Marinelli said. “You vacillate, I would lose all respect. I don’t vacillate.”
"I have strong belief in our players and what we do, so I never question. That's the best part of it. Over my career, it's been questioned before. I just let it go. I just keep doing what I believe in.
“I do it every day. I come out with great belief. I believe in the game and how you work at it. I think good results will come."
Marinelli better get the results he expects Thursday against Washington, or the Cowboys can start focusing on the draft.