The DC Times

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By Jonathan Bales

A Look at Jason Garrett’s Use of Playaction Passes in 2010

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Jonathan Bales

Last season, I conducted an in-depth study of the Cowboys’ 2009 playaction passes.  Here are a few points of interest from that study:

  • Of the 83 playaction passes, only FOUR were attempts of 20 yards or more That is 4.8 percent of all pass plays attempted.  The Cowboys threw the ball downfield 20 yards or more on 46 of the other 467 attempts, or 9.9 percent of all passes.
  • Dallas ran screen passes on 33 of their 467 non-playaction passes (7.1 percent).  That screen rate more than tripled on playaction passes to 22.9 percent (19 of 83 passes).
  • Of the 83 playaction passes, 53, or 63.9 percent, were to the right side of the field (compared to just 37.0 percent on other passes).
  • The Cowboys ran only four (FOUR!) playaction passes all season with 1-4 yards-to-go.  The number of plays on the season in that range: 132.  Thus, Dallas ran playaction on just 3.03 percent of plays in situations with just 1-4 yards to go for a first down (situations with a legitimate threat of a run).
  • With 10 yards remaining, however, the Cowboys dialed up 54 play-action passes (59.3 percent of all playaction passes came on this ‘distance-to-go’).
  • The Cowboys actually ran one more playaction pass (five total) with 20+ yards-to-go than with 1, 2, 3 or 4 yards-to-go.
  • They also ran just 18 play-action passes with less than 10 yards left for a 1st down.  Thus, just 19.8 percent of playaction passes came with less than 10 yards-to-go.

So, has Jason Garrett’s use of playaction passes improved in 2010?  Kind of, but not enough.  Here are some comparable notes from the 2010 season:

  • Of the 98 playaction passes, 13 have been thrown 20+ yards downfield (13.3 percent).  This is certainly better than last year, but it is also one of the only areas in which Garrett has significantly improved.
  • Dallas has run screen passes on 48 of their 462 non-playaction passes (10.4 percent).  That screen rate nearly doubled on playaction passes to 19.4 percent.
  • Of the 98 playaction passes attempted, just 38 (38.8 percent) were to the right side of the field.  I think last year’s rate of 63.9 may have been an aberration.
  • The Cowboys still ran just FOUR playaction passes with 1-4 yards-to-go.  That is only 3.2 percent of the 124 overall plays in that range.
  • 59 of the 103 total playaction passes (five were sacks) have been with exactly 10 yards-to-go.  That rate of 56.3 percent is comparable to that in 2009.
  • The Cowboys again ran more playaction passes with 20+ yards-to-go (five) than with 1-4 yards-to-go (four).  Stunning.
  • Only 22 of the 103 total playaction passes came with less than 10 yards-to-go.  That’s just 21.4 percent.

Overall, it’s shocking to me how incredibly similar these stats are from year to year.  What are the odds the Cowboys would run the EXACT same number of playaction passes with 1-4 yards-to-go AND 20+ yards to go from 2009 to 2010?  The rate of playaction looks from other ranges and the number that result in screen passes are eerily similar as well.

Garrett’s play-calling has certainly improved in a bunch of areas, but in the realm of playaction passes, the man needs an intervention.

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12 Responses to A Look at Jason Garrett’s Use of Playaction Passes in 2010

  1. Scott says:

    this is rather inexplicable. seems so obvious that rushing situations are best to use play-action.

    I just know the one place we should have run a play-action pass was the interception in the Vikings game, when the same play was run with play-action several times before, and it would have held the LB close to the line and given room to get the ball to Witten. That play call cost us the game, and was again inexplicable why in that situation they failed to use play-action.

  2. Willis says:

    Again, this worries me. As Scott points out the play in the minnesota game is a viable example which backs of J Bales intervention point. I really think Jason or Jerry needs to start reading these articles.

  3. Scott–I remember that play, and the Cowboys’ success on short-yardage runs in the game made a lack of PA there inexcusable.

    Willis–I’m scared JG is aware of these trends but just values execution much more than being unpredictable.

  4. Willis says:

    haha, maybe thats why every time we lose a game he says “we just need to execute better.”

  5. Scott says:

    yeah that’s the thing, not only was it a good place for play-action in general, but they had set it up perfectly all game. It couldn’t have been a better situation to use it! Passing there is okay, but only with play-action to ensure the area they wanted to throw to was clear. To just give them a free read and give no reason for the LB to stay up when we easily could have, just inexplicable. But now I see it’s part of a larger pattern that is just as much so. well maybe he’s got a trick up his sleeve and he’s just setting up everyone for next year when it really counts lol.

  6. johncoleman says:

    JB I think you are right about execution on the Scott comment. It seems to me that he should easily be able to realize that we lack the oline to execute anything we want to. If you have the horses, smashmouth is the way to play. If not you have to play to the players strength. I hope it works out if he becomes full time HC, but somehow I’m seeing cracks. My biggest concern going forward will be talent evaluations and personnel decisions. The fact that we don’t know a thing about Young or any other OT will force us to address the position. When he could have played today and we would have known a little bit. I guess we will be getting OT/OG types. I surely don’t feel as good as I did after two or three weeks. Maybe enough of JimmyJ will carry through.

  7. johncoleman says:

    I’m sorry it was a response to Willis.

  8. Haha Scott..YES..this entire season was a set-up for next year! He did a good job of making it appear like that anyway.

    John–Agree the largest question mark with JG and this entire group of coaches is player evaluation. How in the hell have Colombo and Barber started for so long? If you can’t evaluate your own roster, you surely can’t evaluate how a rookie will fit onto it.

  9. percyhoward says:

    * The Cowboys still ran just FOUR playaction passes with 1-4 yards-to-go. That is only 3.2 percent of the 124 overall plays in that range

    Ridiculously low number. How many of those 124 plays were passes? I’d guess around 60 or so. And what is our QB rating on those passes?

  10. Percy–Hell of a guess…63 of them were passes.

  11. Pingback: The Ultimate Dallas Cowboys 2010 Playaction Pass Guide: A Must Read | Dallas Cowboys Times

  12. Pingback: Dallas Cowboys 2010 Playaction Pass Analysis: Is Jason Garrett Too Predictable? « Top Sports Hub

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