Cowboys Links: Jason Garrett, Anthony Spencer, Romo’s Accuracy
At Dallas News, I published a look at Anthony Spencer’s looming contract situation.
I’ve long considered Spencer to be one of the most underrated players on the team. Fans often misunderstand his role on the defense, which in 2012 includes dropping into coverage on 34.9 percent of pass plays. The fact that Spencer has already recorded 10 sacks is pretty remarkable; his 3.6 percent sack rate is actually right in line with DeMarcus Ware’s 3.7 percent rate.
After the season, the Cowboys will inevitably face the difficult decision of whether or not to give Spencer a long-term deal. The positives are clear enough; Spencer is perhaps the top run-defending outside linebacker in the NFL and he’s a good (but not great) pass-rusher opposite Ware.
The problem is that Spencer will be coming off of an outlying season in terms of sacks. Remember, since pass-rushers tend to sack the quarterback at a rate that’s consistent with their pressures, players who record abnormally high or low sack rates are highly likely to regress toward the mean in subsequent seasons. That’s one reason that it was rather easy to project a career-high in sacks for Spencer.
However, despite the value Spencer has provided the defense this year with his double-digit sacks, he hasn’t really rushed the passer any better than normal. Actually, Spencer is on pace to record the fewest pressures he’s seen since 2009. What that means is that it isn’t necessarily Spencer’s ability to get to the quarterback that has changed, but rather his luck.
In effect, inking Spencer to a long-term deal in the off-season would be like buying a stock at its highest price point. If the stock’s high is an overestimation of its true value—which seems to be the case with Spencer in 2013—that price, i.e. Spencer’s production, will eventually decline.
Should the ‘Boys pay Spencer in the off-season? Yes, if it’s on the franchise tag.
Only Peyton Manning has more games than Tony Romo with greater than a 70 percent completion percentage.
In the NFL, accuracy is measured by completion percentage. And it just so happens that Tony Romo had a completion rate above 70% against the Steelers on Sunday. That marks the 30th time in his career that he’s passed that mark, and is also the eighth time this season that Romo passed for a completion rate above 70%. That ranks Romo second in the league behind only Peyton Manning, who has nine such games to his credit.
Read the rest at BTB.
At NBC, I took another look at Jason Garrett’s improved play-calling.
Along with the increased rate of play-action looks from Dallas, we also saw Garrett keep tight end Jason Witten in to block more often against the Steelers; the two probably go hand-in-hand. If you recall, I suggested that Witten be used in pass protection more often to help the struggling offensive line. On Sunday, the Cowboys’ pass protection was vastly improved over previous weeks, due in large part to Witten’s presence as a blocker. The tight end stayed in to block on nearly one-quarter of Romo’s dropbacks, compared to only seven total passing plays in the three previous games combined.