The DC Times

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

About Jonathan Bales

Contact e-mail: jonathan@thedctimes.com

Since starting The DC Times in 2009, my work has appeared all over the web. I currently run the “Running the Numbers” blog at DallasCowboys.com. I also write for the New York Times, NBC’s “Blue Star” blog, and Dallas Morning News.

In May of 2012, I published Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft. My fantasy football content appears on RotoWire, Pro Football Focus, and FF Today.

About Me

  • Jonathan Bales, Founder

As a self-proclaimed “numbers guy,” I have always been fascinated by the way mathematics and statistics, if used properly, can thoroughly explain seemingly complex phenomena. Like the motion of the planets or the path of an ant, I truly believe football can be perfectly represented by numbers (the difficult part is determining which numbers are significant and why).

I received my B.A. in Philosophy and Psychological Statistics from Muhlenberg College.   After repeatedly hearing my mother ask “Jonathan, what are you going to do with a degree in philosophy?”, I finally have an answer: build the most in-depth database of Cowboys information, of course. Isn’t that why philosophy was created? Aristotle would be proud.

During college, I found myself exploring how one might usefully transfuse football with statistics instead of, you know, actually doing homework. As a stat dork, I frequently crunched numbers in an effort to determine whether long-held football “truisms” were actually valid. I found that football coaches are far too timid in their decision-making, it is never “too early” to go for a two-point conversion, and “best player available” is typically a poor draft strategy.

I implemented the same sort of approach to playing (and winning) fantasy football. Fantasy football is nothing more than risk analysis; like playing the stock market, a sound use of game theory can work wonders for your team. I parlayed this unique technique to the game into several writing positions as a fantasy football “expert” (including with RotoWirePro Football Focus, and FF Today).

But it wasn’t enough. My true passion in football has always lied with the Dallas Cowboys, so I decided to create a portfolio of stats-based articles–all similar to the way Sabermetrics is used in baseball, and all related to the Cowboys. As my portfolio grew (and my time spent studying did the opposite), I realized I also had a lot to say about other aspects of America’s Team.

Thus, The DC Times was born. Selfishly, this site is just as much for myself as it is for you–it is a collection of everything I find interesting about the Cowboys and, sometimes, football in general. My hope is that the content you discover here is innovative and captivating enough that you gain the same sort of enthusiasm and insights toward the Cowboys that I acquire when writing it.

Mission Statement

The aim of The DC Times is to bring a unique perspective to how Cowboys fans view their team, particularly through film-driven statistical analysis. As an experienced sports writer and Cowboys enthusiast, I founded the site with the intent to provide these quality stats-based articles, collected from intense, precision-driven film study, as well as player interviews, draft research, game previews/recaps, and so on. While my expertise is in writing and film study, the ultimate goal of the site is to employ any method necessary to allow for fans to gain fresh insights regarding America’s Team.

6 Responses to About Jonathan Bales

  1. Brian McDonald says:

    I have a good possible study subject for you. I think half the teams in the NFL (certainly including Dallas) should NOT run kicks out of their endzone. I was saying this before last Sunday, but the chance of fumbling once or twice a year is too great and for teams like dallas, the likelihood of running one back is too small. (See Carolina last night too). Not to mention the returners often don’t even get past the 20 with the new kickoff line.

    I’d be curious for stats on how many fumbles on kick returns each team has over the past 2 yrs and how many big returns (at least to the other team’s 20 since if you fumble, they get it on your 20). I bet half the teams have net suffered for returning kicks.

    Thanks
    Brian
    p.s. bit hard to find how to email you. Should be a clear tab somewhere IMO

  2. Brian,

    I really like this idea. It was actually something I wanted to do last year but never got around to it. If I have enough time, I’m going to try to tackle this later this week. If you have any other ideas, just send them in (jonathan@thedctimes.com). Also, I will switch the site around to make it easier to contact me. I had it in the older version of the site, but forgot to add a contact area when I changed it up. Thanks for letting me know.

  3. Hi,
    My name is Sophie from Status Update Media. I was looking for sites related to one of our client’s business and your website looks like a great fit for us to do some advertising.
    Are you really interested in getting some more information about our advertising idea?
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  4. O. Supre says:

    Hey,

    I’ve got a Cowboy question that I feel like you have the best statistical reasoning sense to answer. There is this rhetoric that many Cowboy fans use about the offensive line: needs rebuilding, is a wreck, disaster, horrible, etc. But strangely, Romo threw for 4903 yards, 290 ypg average, and averaged 40 attempts and 26 completions per game, threw a TD around a gathering of 23 pass attempts, and around every 15 completion, Romo threw a TD. He threw about 1.20 interceptions per game and was sacked once for every 18 dropbacks to pass.

    That is tremendous output.

    For the time that DeMarco Murray played, he averaged 66 yards per game which means he would have over 1000 yards rushing. Still impressive. He and Felix combined had over 1000 yards and a 3.85 rushing average. But looking at their receiving stats, their YAC was incredible. An obvious strength. 226 of Felix’s 262 receiving yards were after the catch. 236 of 251 yards of Murray’s were after the catch. Both of their YAC/total receiving yards percentage were much higher than both Bryant and Miles whose YAC made up 1/3 of their total receiving yards.

    Both the RBs receiving stats and,obviously Dez and Miles stats, are impressive but point to an obvious strength of all four of those players to make huge plays once the ball was in their hands.

    Okay so here is the controversy for me. If the O-line was so bad, how could the offense manage so many attempts, so many completions, an incredible amount of overall output, and why would they keep trying to use a vertical game (emphasizing a reactionary receiving route tree that by very nature hesitates based on coverage and does not try to keep defenders near the LOS with shorter patterns) and keep maintaining a pass-happy offense if there was such a weakness in O-line? Many claim that something greater would happen if Romo had more time, but it seems to me that for all of his attempts per game 40 and yards per game average 290, the O line did enough for Romo to have a huge year. Not sure what more was supposed to happen there.

    But when teams who had watched film on Dallas and knew their tendencies, decided to attack the passing game and guard the typical routes, the rather one dimensional offense became vulnerable (36 sacks and 19 ints in tandem is one of Tony’s worst years).

    It’s really hard to know what the high frequency/high percentage short pass and running games could have done if there was a commitment to them. Dallas barely ran 20 times a game (5 times a quarter). Tim Hasselbeck said that Jim Harbaugh puts a great deal of creativity in his running game-mixing up the directions and styles of the blocking schemes.

    To me, I still don’t see an O-line problem really. I just can’t see how Dallas could manage that much passing, especially emphasizing downfield routes, with a failing or weak O-line. The sacks and interceptions and pass break ups and pressures are really the natural and reasonable consequences of running so many plays with that type of offense. No perfect O-line can hold pressure that long while covered receivers try to extend predictable routes into 2nd and 3rd efforts. No O-line will improve its effectiveness in run-blocking if the running plays are called so infrequently and with a discrepantly lower amount of creative interest invested compared to the vertical passing game.

    Looking at the stats, I have a different take on Jason Garrett. He did very well in the area that he knows well. He knows the vertical offense well and afforded every opportunity for Romo to use distance and space to generate pass completions. He is still very much just a passing game coordinator instead of a complete OC much less a fledgling and naive HC. Garrett desperately needs someone to use his successful portion of the offense but then also show him how to deceive defenses, attack weaknesses (see the Falcon game where the LB frequently left the middle of the field wide open to run into the secondary but Jason did nothing with that), and have a power game that can ransom the clock. I think he just does not know that he doesn’t know.

    Even with injuries the running game produced enough push and success to warrant greater frequency and use during a game (like in the first Giant game and the Pittsburgh game). The short passing game for YAC was a tremendous strength for the team and was underused IMO. Both the running game and the short passing game reduce the opportunity for Romo’s vulnerability (see the Steeler game) and predictability.

    So here is the question: how can the O-line be so bad and yet provide sustained protection to allow that many pass attempts in a scheme that requires such duration blocking? The two do not co-exist.

  5. O–Thanks for writing in. I’d argue that the O-line didn’t really provide all that much time for Romo and it was his ability to buy time in the pocket that allowed for the passing game to succeed. In terms of the vertical passing game, the Cowboys don’t actually throw down field often at all. Actually, they continually rank at or near the bottom of the league in attempts that travel 15 or 20+ yards. The offense really only started to come along once Garrett opened it up and got the ball deep to Bryant. In terms of overall deep passing rate, I’d say they should actually be throwing it downfield at about twice the rate they do now. Part of their ability to do that is Romo’s mobility in the pocket.

    In regards to rushing success, there just wasn’t any. Stats show the Cowboys decreased their expected points in every game except for one by calling TOO MANY runs early on. They were forced to throw late and that skewed the run/pass balance, but early in games they tried to stay balanced, and it hurt them. This team shouldn’t be running the ball on more than 35 percent of plays in normal game situations, ever.

    I think the running game has its place in certain situations, though. Specifically, the Cowboys should probably run more often (and NEED to find more efficiency) in short-yardage/ goal line situations.

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