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Running the Numbers: How Much a Better Running Game Would Help Romo

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At DallasCowboys.com, I broke down how much a running game can help a quarterback.

Below, I graphed the yards per attempt (YPA) for various quarterbacks, breaking down their seasons into two categories based on whether or not their team rushed for at least 1,800 yards, around the median total rushing yards for all 32 teams in a given season.

Some quarterbacks – Romo, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning – have performed better when their offenses have rushed for a lot of yards. Other passers, however, have performed more efficiently without much total production on the ground. Overall, the nine quarterbacks have actually totaled better efficiency (7.83 YPA) when their teams have rushed for fewer than 1,800 yards than when they’ve crossed that mark (7.56 YPA).

That’s actually pretty strong evidence that posting a bunch of yards on the ground doesn’t really help quarterbacks. The reason is likely that a large percentage of those rushing yards come late in games after the team has already secured a lead. Since we know that the best teams tend to gain leads by passing efficiently and then rack up rushing yards when they’re milking the clock, it’s pretty remarkable that the game’s best quarterbacks still average higher YPA when their teams don’t compile a lot of rushing yards. It’s more evidence of what astute analysts have known for years: Bulk rushing yards can explain past events, but they aren’t predictive of future ones. In regards to quarterback play, total rushing yards are basically worthless.

See it all at the team site.

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