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X’s and O’s With Dallas Cowboys Coaches

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As a site whose material is primarily based around film study and statistical analysis, we love when coaches get into the “X’s and O’s” of football.  Yesterday afternoon, coaches Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett did just that, spending about an hour with the media going over just three basic plays from that morning’s practice.  Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas explains:

The Cowboys, who requested that we keep the specifics of the session private, pride themselves on having simple systems. But it’s still pretty complex stuff. For example, typical offensive play call still consists of three parts that are between two and four words apiece: the formation, the blocking scheme and the routes/run. And many play-calls have a run/pass option, so double that.

We mention this because a few days ago, we emailed a few members of the Cowboys organization with some statistics we thought would be of use to them.  We received a prompt response from none other than Wes Phillips–the quality control coach and Wade’s son.  He wrote:

Thanks for the info, but I can assure you that we look at all of these stats and more on a weekly basis as well as a complete offseason study of every run/pass/protection from every formation/D&D/situation. We get much more in depth than you may realize and our goal is to not only be a top 5 offense but be the #1 offense in the NFL. Take care and go Cowboys.

This short response prompted us to write this post explaining why we do what we do.  We spend hundreds of hours breaking down film and completing statistical analyses not because we think the Cowboys are short-changing themselves, but rather because we want to obtain objective, non-biased information regarding the team.

We know that the Cowboys called a pass on 63 of 64 plays out of “Gun Trips” last season and that Tony Romo checked to a draw on 34 of 44 run audibles, for example, because we put in the time to break down the film.  While we do think some components of the Cowboys’ film study/stat department could be altered, that is not why we do this.  We do it because the Dallas Cowboys are our passion and we love uncovering innovative statistics which (perhaps) reveal something of interest to you.

Now, we have no idea what relationship our emails played in the media film study invite (probably none at all).  Nonetheless, we wanted to clear up any notions that we think the Cowboys “aren’t trying” when it comes to studying film and analyzing tendencies.  Nearly everyone within the organization spends countless hours reviewing film and attempting to improve.

Of course, maximum effort is useless if it is directed the wrong way.  Are the Cowboys spending their time studying the right statistics and trends?  We aren’t exactly sure, but there are certainly areas for improvement, particularly in the area of play randomization.

While there are certainly some things within the Cowboys’ play-calling and general philosophy which we would change, however, that is undoubtedly the case for every NFL team.  Just know the complexity of the Cowboys offense, defense, and special teams is far greater than most casual fans realize.

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10 Responses to X’s and O’s With Dallas Cowboys Coaches

  1. Jared says:

    Just a quick thank you to you and all that contribute to your site. This has quickly become one of my favorite sites due to the non-biased approach and its fantastic analysis. The time put in must be imense and it doesn’t go un-noticed. Thanks for all your hard work.

  2. Hey Jared,

    That really means a lot and I’m genuinely happy people like what we are doing. If you have any suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask. I really appreciate you checking it out and your comments.

  3. john coleman says:

    I find it interesting that they review things on a weekly basis and it takes them until now to figure out Witten needs to be used more in the red zone. I believe those were Wade’s comments this week. Also, as you have pointed out, Garrett is extremely predictable. If he was looking at it, how can that be. Unless , he on the successful plays, has the run it until they stop it philosophy.

  4. You’re right…IF they knew about these trends, why wouldn’t they fix them? There is no way a coach should be calling a pass on 63 of 64 plays out of a particular formation.

  5. john coleman says:

    With the people we have, ther is no excuse for 63 of 64. I think we have 8 to 10 guys who should all worry defenses. But that can’t happen unless you give them the ball. I mean Bennett, Witten, Miles, Roy, PC, KO, Felix, Barber, TC, and Dez. NO WAY should a defense have a clue what’s coming. Obviously you have bread and butter, but we need the spice. How many would Indy or New England score with these guys? I think you struck a nerve. I don’t blame Wade either.

  6. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Yes, I’m a stats kinda guy and agree that your work here is very interesting to me. I’m sure the Boys have a staff of guys who just the same thing…how unbiased they are may be a point to look into.

  7. john coleman says:

    Tyrone I believe you are on to something with the unbiased thought.

  8. Who knows…they say they are aware of all of our stats…I sure hope so, but I can’t imagine the play-calling would be as it is if that was truly the case.

  9. Kevin Keithley says:

    Thanks for taking the time to breakdown film and for the unbiased analysis offered on this site. I can honestly say I have been surprized and informed on more than one occasion after digesting an article. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  10. No problem Kevin. Thanks a lot for reading. Tell a friend.

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