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Examining the Cowboys’ Shotgun Running Game

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Why don’t the Cowboys run more out of Shotgun? I took a look at NBC.

In 2012, the Cowboys used shotgun on over 50 percent of their offensive snaps (548). Many of those were on third down or late in games when defenses knew they’d pass, but many were also in normal game situations. I tracked the run/pass balance from each formation.

Gun 3 Wide Pro: 18 passes, 0 runs
Gun 5 Wide: 39 passes, 0 runs
Gun Spread: 96 passes, 3 runs
Gun Tight End Spread: 140 passes, 13 runs
Gun Tight End Trips: 85 passes, 22 runs
Gun Trips: 129 passes, 2 runs

So the Cowboys had 548 plays from a shotgun formation, but ran the ball from gun just 40 times (7.3 percent). That wouldn’t be a problem if the team used shotgun solely in pass-only situations, but Garrett called for shotgun quite often in the first half, in close games, on first and second down, and so on. That’s an advantage to the defense, even if they don’t know where the ball will be thrown, because the defensive line can pin their ears back and come right after Tony Romo. The Cowboys could theoretically hit them with a screen pass to stop the rush, but they don’t; they ran all of eight screen passes to running backs in 2012.

Check it out right here.

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