The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys-Redskins Week 17 Previews

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My latest Running the Numbers entry is a look at the Redskins’ offensive tendencies.

It starts with the running game.

Washington’s offense moves because their star rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, is as versatile as they come. In many ways, Griffin lets defensive coordinators pick their own poison. If they play with two deep safeties, RGIII and fellow rookie Alfred Morris will gash them on the ground. If coordinators play with eight men in the box or, even worse, if they blitz, Griffin can beat them with his world-class arm; his record 141.8 passer rating against the blitz is evidence of that.

Averaging 6.6 yards per carry (YPC), the Cowboys can’t let RGIII get going as a runner. They’re going to need to find a way to stop Griffin without moving their safeties toward the line, though, or else they’ll be susceptible through the air.

The running game is the passing game.

For the Redskins, the success of the running and passing games are inherently connected, even more so than for other teams. Because Washington sets up the majority of their offense off of read-option looks, the offense’s ability to run the football is paramount in throwing the ball with some sort of efficiency. The Redskins’ 39.2 percent play-action rate is evidence of just how intertwined their running game is with their air attack. In comparison, the Cowboys’ play-action rate is just over one-quarter of that of Washington’s.

Head to DallasCowboys.com for the full article.

At Dallas Morning News, I broke down why quick passes could be the Cowboys’ best friend on Sunday night.

On the Cowboys’ crucial third down in overtime last week against the Saints, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were unable to connect on a slant to extend the drive. The Cowboys were forced to punt, and they never saw the ball again.

On the day, Romo completed only three of his seven slants, producing a poor 42.9 percent completion rate that’s highly uncharacteristic for the quarterback. The slant has really been the Cowboys’ best friend all year; thus far in 2012, Romo has completed 51 of his 70 slants (72.9 percent) for 624 yards (8.91 YPA), one touchdown, and no picks—good for a 104.7 passer rating. Even against New Orleans, Romo’s three completions on slants went for 70 yards and a score.

Against Washington, it will be vital for Romo to connect on slants, particular to Bryant and Miles Austin. In addition to extending drives on third downs, slants and other quick-hitting routes could give the Redskins problems. Washington’s starting cornerbacks—Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall—haven’t been the best of tacklers this year. Actually, the duo rank last and fourth-to-last in yards-after-catch this year.

Read the whole post at DMN.

At NBC’s Blue Star blog, I presented a possible game plan for Rob Ryan.

Don’t bite on read-option plays.

The Redskins have one of the league’s top rushing games, averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry. In terms of expected points—the number of points a team can be expected to score at any given point on a drive—Washington has “gained” 37.4 on the year. That’s the best number in the NFL by a wide margin, meaning the running game has helped the Redskins score more points than it has for any other squad. To give you an idea of how outstanding Washington’s running game has been, consider that only seven teams in the league have totaled positive expected points from running.

Check it out at NBC.

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