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