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Running the Numbers: More Cowboys-Giants Film Study

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I’ve already posted some initial reactions to the Cowboys-Giants game and a breakdown of Tony Romo’s audibles. At DallasCowboys.com, I just published the results of my film study.

  • It’s fun to think that the Cowboys win games by “wearing down” defenses with the run, but it isn’t true. The majority of the team’s success comes from throwing the football efficiently. Rushing the ball effectively can certainly help, but running with frequency simply isn’t necessary in today’s NFL.
  • I backed up that point last week in my article on a few myths about the Cowboys. Since 2008, the Cowboys have compiled only a .276 winning percentage when they pass the ball on more than 57 percent of their snaps. For the mathematically-challenged, that’s about one win every four games. However, when the ’Boys pass the ball at the same rate through just the first three quarters, they have a .636 winning percentage. Once they’re already winning, they run the ball late, creating the illusion of a balanced offense.
  • The illusion was on display last night. You’ll hear that the Cowboys won the game because they stayed balanced on offense. The only problem is that they weren’t balanced at all – through three quarters, head coach Jason Garrett dialed up a pass on 28 of the Cowboys’ initial 42 plays (66.7 percent). In the fourth quarter, Dallas ran the ball on nine of their 14 snaps (64.2 percent), fueling the mistaken notion that they stayed balance throughout the game.

Read the rest at the team site.

Some of you have asked me on Twitter how I get all of the stats I publish on the ‘Boys. This is how. . .

That’s about one-third of the data I collected from the first half alone. I’m home a lot.

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4 Responses to Running the Numbers: More Cowboys-Giants Film Study

  1. Shane Morris says:

    As an avid Cowboys fan, I also looked further the game, and the surprising numbers by Ogletree. To sum up why he did so well: He was where Witten usually is.

    Witten was only there so the Giants had to respect him just stepping on the field. It was a bluff. The Cowboys didn’t want to see him taking too many hits, but they also wanted the Giants to play him.

    Result? Ogletree found the gaps across the middle Witten is usually in. If Witten is healthy, he’ll probably end up with some Ogletree numbers during some games this season.

  2. What’s up Shane? Didn’t know you were a Cowboys fan. Ogletree did catch a lot of in-breaking routes (primarily slants). I tracked Witten as being on the field for 28 passes, going out in a route on 21 of them. That 75 percent rate is right in line with his career mark, so I’m not sure that the Cowboys really played it much differently (outside of not using him as the No. 1 target on most plays). I don’t think Ogletree will keep it up once Witten is back to full health, of course.

  3. Alex says:

    I love the site. I’m frustrated with the amount of ignorance and uninformed conventional wisdom in football analysis. It’s nice to see someone who uses numbers and critical analysis to provide some insight into a sport which is so commonly misunderstood, especially since you’re writing about the Cowboys!

    I’m curious if you’d be willing to release the spreadsheet of data you gathered about the game. Thanks for your great work,

    Alex

  4. Thanks a lot Alex. If you send me your email, I can send over the spreadsheet. I won’t be able to do that for every game, but just one isn’t a problem.

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