The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: Deep Passing Stats

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Jonathan Bales

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.

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One Response to Running the Numbers: Deep Passing Stats

  1. Steve G says:

    I think the reason Garrett doesn’t call more deep passes is simple: generally speaking, he doesn’t trust his pass blockers to keep the rush off of Romo long enough for these deeper routes to be run properly.

    If the interior of the line solidifies and the Free/Smith OT swap works out as planned, I would bet the deep passes become far more prevalent this season.

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