Running the Numbers: Deep Passing Stats
My latest submission to DallasCowboys.com deals with the Cowboys’ deep passing stats over the past three seasons. In it, I discuss when I think possessing an efficient running game is important. Regulars here know I often dismiss the idea that offenses need to be balanced (they don’t), but a strong running game is important in short-yardage situations and to set up big plays in the passing game. As I write in the article:
The biggest reason a formidable ground attack can be valuable, however, is that it sets up big plays via the passing game. It’s a whole lot easier for an offense to move downfield from a single deep pass than from a handful of successful runs, but those six- and eight-yard rushes can alter a defense’s strategy and leave them susceptible to a deep passing play. Thus, although rushing frequently is unnecessary, running efficiently can have positive offensive effects that often manifest themselves in passing statistics.
And the Cowboys have had quite a bit of success throwing deep lately. Last season, Romo turned in a ridiculous 125.4 passer rating on throws of 20-plus yards.
One of the reasons I think we see this is (and one I didn’t discuss in the article) is that Romo buys time in the pocket to allow receivers to get wide open, making a lot of his deep throws “easy.” Jason Garrett really dials up a low percentage of deep passes (well below the league average in every season he’s been offensive coordinator), so there’s a bit of a selection bias at work toward these “easy” deep passes. More designed deep throws would result in a lower passer rating, I think.
Nonetheless, the ‘Boys really could benefit from more throws down the field. Dez Bryant has unbelievable ball skills, and I’d sure be throwing it up to him anytime he doesn’t have a safety over top.