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4 Tips for the Cowboys’ Offense from a Full-Time Blogger

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At ABC, I proposed four ways to fix the Cowboys’ offense. Here are two:

Tip No. 3: Use play-action way more often.

Want jaw-dropping evidence that the Cowboys don’t embrace analytics and are unwilling to adapt to new information? Last year, Romo ranked last in the NFL in play-action percentage, attempting a play-action pass on just 10.0 percent of his dropbacks despite totaling a 109.1 passer rating on those passes.

In 2013, Romo ranks last in the NFL in play-action percentage, attempting a play-action pass on just 10.3 percent of his dropbacks despite totaling a 121.2 passer rating on those passes.

What the hell?

All kinds of success on play-action, yet the rate has increased 0.3 percent points? With that sort of improvement, we’ll only need to wait just over 37 years until the Cowboys reach THE LEAGUE AVERAGE in play-action percentage.

Oh, but the Cowboys can’t run the ball, you say, so why use play-action? First, Romo’s ridiculous play-action success is reason enough to increase the rate. But more important, play-action efficiency isn’t correlated with rushing success.

Defenders play situations, not past rushing efficiency, so the Cowboys don’t need a strong running game for play-action to work. If they implemented more of a scientific approach to decision-making over the faith-based approach they currently utilize, they’d probably know that.

Tip No. 4: Move on from Jason Witten.

I don’t literally mean cut Jason Witten, but there’s no reason he should be on the field every snap. There’s DEFINITELY no way that he should have more targets than any tight end in the NFL other than Jimmy Graham.

Take a look at the number of yards Witten has generated per route that he’s run over the past six seasons.

Is there a trend there? I can’t really tell.

Oh now wait, there’s a nearly perfectly straight line. So when I told you all in the preseason that Jason Witten would regress and it seemed outrageous, the truth is it was probably the easiest Cowboys-related prediction I’ve ever made.

If the Cowboys really understood that Witten’s “career year” in 2012 was due completely to a heavy workload, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t be seeing over seven targets per game right now.

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3 Responses to 4 Tips for the Cowboys’ Offense from a Full-Time Blogger

  1. Pounda says:

    Jonathan has been on to the Cowboy’s offense under-utilization of the play action pass for years. That the coaching staff has not corrected such an obvious oversight for two years tells us all we need to know about their knowledge of the game. The Cowboys have decent talent, but are squandering it in an appalling manner.

  2. Jon MacEntosh says:

    I think Romo (yes, he should get a lot of the blame because he’s involved in the game plan, he chooses whom to pass to, and he can change plays at the line) attempts to avoid situations where he can get hit, and throws it quickly if he can. That means a) not to Bryant deep. and b) to Witten and company short.

    Would be nice of the O-Line was better, but I think play-action can slow down a rush for a sec and allow Romo to toss the deep ball. And for goodness sakes, stay in there and take a hit like a man.
    I wish I could see a graph on QB ratings when they took a hit on the play because thats what the playoffs is all about.

    Also, would be great to write at article on the contracts that are sagging the Cowboys down (i.e. is Ware worth 16million and Witten 8.5 million in 2014?)

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