The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Analysis: Lance Dunbar and Third Downs

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A couple articles of note today. At NBC, I posted more on running back Lance Dunbar.

Dunbar is out for the time being with a sprained foot, but he sure looked impressive during his limited action. The shifty running back averaged 5.6 YPC on his eight rushes and caught all six of his targets for 83 yards, highlighted of course by the big 43-yard reception on which Dunbar fumbled the ball. I wouldn’t worry too much about the fumble unless it becomes a habit; what’s more important is that Dunbar is showing the sort of explosiveness that Joseph Randle doesn’t possess.

Coming out of North Texas, Dunbar was timed anywhere from the low-4.4s to the high 4.4s. Players with his small stature need speed. It’s basically a prerequisite at the running back position; backs in Dunbar’s range of speed have produced at over four times the rate of those as fast as Randle. Randle’s 4.63 time was really poor in isolation, but it’s especially poor when you consider that he’s just 204 pounds.

And at Dallas News, I posted some info on the Cowboys’ 2012 third downs.

The Cowboys were one of the best third down teams in the NFL last year, due primarily to their passing offense. As I searched through my database, I found some cool numbers on the Cowboys’ third/fourth down plays. Check it out.

Interestingly, the Cowboys were better on third-and-four than they were on third-and-one through third-and-three. At first I thought that was because they couldn’t run the ball all that well, but the ‘Boys were actually a decent short-yardage rushing team last year. So I compared the Cowboys’ conversions to those across the league.

You can see that Dallas was a little bit better than average on third-and-short, but significantly better than most NFL teams on third-and-medium. Their advantage extended from third-and-three to third-and-six.

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