The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

How Jason Garrett Used His Predictability for Good

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I’ve often discussed how predictability can be advantageous at times (see my article “Predictability Kills” at Advanced NFL Stats). Specifically, if a coordinator utilizes his past calls to acquire big plays in the future, some predictability can be good. On Sunday, Jason Garrett did just that.

Earlier today, I broke down four plays that won the game for Dallas on Sunday night. The analysis of win probability shows just how dramatically a play or two can alter the course of a game. The Morris Claiborne 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown increased the Cowboys’ chances of winning from 67 percent to 97 percent, for example.

One of the plays I mentioned in that breakdown was the 28-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin. Prior to the touchdown, the Cowboys had run the ball four times over the course of just six snaps from “Double Tight I/Strong.” The alignment below came just a few plays before the Austin touchdown.

Jason Garrett has utilized this formation over the years, very often running a strong side dive. Actually, the rate of strong side dive running plays from “Double Tight I/Strong” was as high as 77.6 percent in 2009. Garrett often calls for the play in short-yardage or late-game situations (although not always), and teams around the league know that the ‘Boys like to run up the middle from the formation. Thus, when the Cowboys lined up in “Double Tight Left I” (below), the Eagles were surely anticipating a run.

Those suspicions were confirmed when Romo showed play-action. The fake to Felix Jones was a good one, and it forced the linebackers to jump up to defend the run.

Check it out at DMN.

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