The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: 10 Unique Stats for Cowboys in 2012

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At DallasCowboys.com, I took a brief look at 10 stats I uncovered while studying the ‘Boys in 2012.

1. Only the St. Louis Rams had more pre-snap penalties than the Cowboys.

With 58 penalties before the snap of the ball, there’s no doubt that the Cowboys can dramatically improve their 2013 offense simply by playing with more discipline. No player on Dallas committed more penalties than right tackle Doug Free’s 13 (pre- and post-snap).

2. The Cowboys passed 127 times out of 129 plays from “Gun Trips.”

In my breakdown of the Cowboys’ 2012 formations, I mentioned that the team ran the ball only two times from “Gun Trips” all year and only three times since 2009. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the ’Boys used the formation in pass-only situations, but they actually lined up in “Gun Trips” 86 times on first-and-10 (or less), second-and-10 (or less) or third-and-5 (or less). In 2013, it’s possible that defenses will begin to send their pass-rushers after Tony Romo immediately following the snap when they identify the formation.

3. Dallas passed the ball on 66.2 percent of their plays.

Is that rate too high? Most would say yes, but don’t forget that the Cowboys 1) have more success when they throw the ball early in games and 2) were forced to pass often late in their 2012 losses. Romo dropped back to pass on 72.9 percent of the Cowboys’ fourth-quarter snaps, compared to 63.7 percent otherwise.

4. The Cowboys ran only 24 screen passes and six counters all year.

Head coach Jason Garrett has never been a big screen guy, but heading into 2012, I figured the rate of counters would remain steady or even increase from past seasons. The Cowboys averaged 7.2 yards-per-carry on counters from 2009 to 2011, but we saw just six of them last year. It’s possible that the new offensive line personnel was the reason for the decline, but don’t forget the Cowboys ran and had much success on counters with physical interior linemen like Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode.

As far as screen passes, you could very well see more of them next year. Screens could be an effective tool to combat ineffective pass protection. Only eight of the Cowboys’ 24 screen passes in 2012 were to running backs.

Check it out at the team site.

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