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Cowboys’ can improve offense by increasing the tempo

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At Dallas News, I suggested that the Cowboys increase the tempo of their offense to improve win probability.

Despite ranking 15th in the NFL in points scored in 2012, the Cowboys have an above-average offense. There are all sorts of advanced metrics that show that, suggesting Dallas will improve their total points rank in 2013. They ranked in the top 10 in net-adjusted YPA, for example, and that’s the most predictive single stat for any team.

One of the simplest stats that demonstrates the Cowboys’ offense is better than 15th, though, is that the ‘Boys ranked 10 spots higher in points than they did in total drives. With just 180 offensive possessions in 2012, 24 teams ranked higher than Dallas. Part of that is due to the Cowboys struggling on offense last year, but another big reason is that they run a slower-than-average offense. We all know that Tony Romo takes a long time to snap the ball, sometimes because he’s reading the defense but more often because Jason Garrett calls two plays into the huddle. That’s how the Cowboys’ “Kill” audible system originated.

The audible system allows Romo to choose the best of two plays, but it also limits the total number of snaps the Cowboys can run in one game. That’s not inherently bad; poor teams should limit the number of snaps they run, shortening the game to increase variance. The fewer the plays, the greater the role luck plays in a contest. Underdogs need to increase luck as much as possible (which is why you see a lot of bad teams run the ball a lot).

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