The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Coverage: Tyron Smith and More on Shotgun

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At Dallas News, I continued my 2013 projections with left tackle Tyron Smith.

The Numbers

I tracked Smith as allowing only three sacks in 2012, but there’s evidence that he might have gotten a little lucky with that number. He actually allowed pressure on Tony Romo on 6.0 percent of his snaps in pass protection—around the same rate as Doug Free. He also committed 11 penalties—second-most on the team. However, only three of those penalties came after Week 6 of the season.

Smith was the Cowboys’ best run blocker in 2012, and it wasn’t even close. Dallas running backs averaged 4.47 YPC with Smith at the point-of-attack—well above the overall average of 3.56 YPC. Overall, I gave Smith a B- grade in my final 2012 scouting report.

What I Like

Smith went through a lot of off-field issues last season. It’s a great sign that he was not only able to turn in a decent campaign, but also improve substantially at a new position as the year progressed. We have to remember that this is a player who won’t turn 23 until the end of the season. At an age when many players are rookies, Smith could be dominant in his third year in the league.

What I Don’t Like

There’s not much to dislike about Smith’s future. His pressure rate was way too high in 2012, so that will need to improve. Based on league averages, a left tackle who yields as many pressures as Smith did last year typically gives up around nine sacks.

And I posted another analysis of Shotgun at NBC:

Below, I broke down the Cowboys’ 2012 Shotgun plays based on the down.

  • First Down: 32.5 percent
  • Second Down: 33.6 percent
  • Third/Fourth Down: 33.8 percent

The distribution is pretty incredible with nearly the exact same number of plays across the three downs (if we count third and fourth down together). So while Dallas uses Shotgun on the majority of their third down plays, it’s not like they never run it on first or second down.

I also broke down the Shotgun plays via quarter. The first number below is the percentage of total Shotgun plays that occurred in each quarter. The second number is the percentage of those plays that were on third down. So in the first quarter, the Cowboys ran 15.1 percent of their total Shotgun plays, but 54.9 percent of those first quarter plays were on third down.

  • First Quarter: 15.1 percent/54.9 percent
  • Second Quarter: 24.6 percent/32.8 percent
  • Third Quarter: 21.3 percent/33.6 percent
  • Fourth Quarter/Overtime: 39.0 percent/26.4 percent
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