Dallas Cowboys 2011 Recap: Interesting Offensive Stats
I am going to begin my 2012 Draft coverage early this year, and you can expect it to be superb. . .as per usual. Between those articles you can also expect to find stat analysis of the Cowboys 2011 season. Below, I have pasted some interesting numbers from both Pro Football Focus and my own Excel spreadsheets. Similar defensive statistics to come.
- Romo finished the season fourth in the NFL in passer rating at 102.5, behind only Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. That includes a 104.4 rating in the fourth quarter. . .not bad for a “choke artist.”
- Taking away drops, spikes and throw aways, Romo’s completion percentage was 73.5%.
- On deep passes of 20+ yards, Romo completed 54.8% of his attempts. That was second in the league to Aaron Rodgers, but only 11.9% of Romo’s passes traveled that long–good for only 13th in the league. He threw 13 touchdowns and only two picks on deep throws. I’ve been saying for years the Cowboys would benefit immensely from more deep passes.
- Romo was under pressure on 30.7% of dropbacks, which was 13th highest in league, but completed 56.7% of his passes in these situations. That was second-best in the NFL to only Drew Brees.
Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson
- Cowboys quarterbacks had a 110.8 passer rating when throwing to Dez Bryant, which was the 16th-highest of any receiver in the NFL. Romo threw three of his interceptions when targeting Bryant.
- I have seen some criticisms of Miles Austin lately, even from “expert” Dallas-area writers. Don’t listen to it. Austin’s only problem has been staying healthy, as Romo posted a 117.8 rating when throwing to Austin, including zero interceptions. That rating is good for 11th among all receivers. Austin is an elite wide receiver who will have a monster 2012 season if he stays on the field.
- Puzzling to me are Austin’s drops. After a 2010 season in which he struggled with dropping passes, Austin let four more get through his hands this season. That isn’t an enormous amount, but it was 8.5% of catchable passes and good for just 37th in the NFL. I think this is a small sample size at work, though, as just one less drop would shoot Austin up to 23rd.
- Meanwhile, Bryant tallied only one drop all season–second-best in the NFL of any receiver who played 25% of his team’s snaps. Only Golden Tate caught every pass possible.
- Laurent Robinson caught 58.8% of deep passes (20+ yards) thrown his way, good for third in NFL. Austin was 10th at 50.0%, and Bryant 29th at 36.8%. These numbers are misleading, as Robinson is very rarely the first read on plays. If he is thrown to, chances are he’s fairly open. Bryant gets balls in double-coverage, and so we’d expect his deep catch rate to be lower. Larry Fitzgerald, for example, was just 24th in the NFL at 41.2%.
- Robinson tallied 2.18 yards per route–the top number on the Cowboys.
DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones
- DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones were both solid at avoiding defenders in 2011, tallying 3.01 and 2.98 yards-after-contact/attempt. Those rates were 10th and 11th in the league.
- Murray had 36.8% of his yardage come on runs of 15+ yards, which was the 12th-highest rate in the NFL. Jones was 31st at 26.4%. Again, this stat can be misleading. While you always want big plays, a really high “big run rate” can be an indicator that a running back will regress to the mean the following season, rushing for fewer big plays and seeing a decrease in both total yards and yards per attempt. Murray and Jones are both breakaway players, and I’d expect both of them to be around 35% in any given season. As an example of how much these numbers can fluctuate, consider that Jones saw 44.0% of his yards come on big plays in 2009, compared to just 15.3% last season.
- Murray and Jones were 24th and 26th, respectively, in catch rate at 89.7% and 89.2%
- Murray and Jones both need to improve in pass protection. Jones allowed a pressure, hit or sack on 6.3% of snaps he was in pass pro. This was just the 41st-best mark in the NFL. Murray’s 9.7% number came in at 62nd in the league.
Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett
- Jason Witten dropped 3.61% of balls thrown his way (three total), good for 10th in the league.
- 13.5% of Witten’s snaps came in the slot. That was just the 17th-highest percentage for tight ends, and the rate was well behind the top 10 (all of whom played 25+% snaps in slot).
- Witten was 12th in yards per route at 1.69.
- Witten blocked on only 9.4% of pass plays, well below his rate in past seasons. He was 18th in the NFL with 3.9% of snaps resulting in a pressure, hit or sack. Martellus Bennett was 17th, with 3.8% of his snaps resulting in some sort of pressure. It confirms the notion that Witten and Bennett are similar in pass protection (although Bennett is far superior as a run blocker). Bennett blocked on 20.1% of pass plays.
- The entire offensive line was 14th overall in pass blocking efficiency, allowing a pressure, hit or sack on 18.5% of pass plays.
- Tyron Smith was the league’s 14th most efficient tackle in terms of pass protection, allowing a pressure, hit or sack on just 4.0% of pass plays. Free was 48th with 6.3%. He also allowed 10 sacks, which was sixth-worst in the NFL.
- Montrae Holland checked in at 20th among all guards in terms of pass protection efficiency, allowing some sort of pressure on 2.5% of pass plays. This confirms my thought that Holland was very underrated this year. Kyle Kosier was 33rd at 3.2%. He was just a league-average guard in 2011.
- Phil Costa was 29th in the NFL among centers with 2.7% pass protection efficiency. He really shouldn’t start in 2012, although he probably will.
- Bill Nagy allowed pressure on 4.1% of pass plays, good for 41st in the league.