At NBC, I broke down the Cowboys’ big 20-19 win over the Bengals.
Punt the Punter
Brian Moorman has to go, right? His five punts—only one of which was kicked inside the 20—averaged only 33.0 yards. Three of them were kicked out-of-bounds, but I don’t think that was Moorman’s intent. Moorman cost the Cowboys around three expected points with his punts; had he kicked even the league-average length, the Bengals’ expected points on three separate drives would have been around one point lower.
Tony Romo Overcomes Poor Start
The Bengals did a good job of disguising their looks against Romo, but the quarterback didn’t have his best stuff, either. I counted 10 of Romo’s passes as being off-target—nearly twice the normal rate.
After totaling only 3.67 play-action passes per game through 12 weeks—by far the lowest rate in the NFL—the Cowboys attempted eight on Sunday. Romo was moderately effective on the passes, completing four for 61 yards. He also missed Miles Austin on a deep play-action look in the first quarter—a play on which Austin was wide open and had a real chance to score.
See the rest at NBC.
At NBC, I posted my initial observations from the Cowboys’ 38-33 win over the Eagles.
Slow Starts and Kicking Off
The Cowboys have certainly started slowly on offense this year, but at least a small part of the low first half scoring output is that the Cowboys have made a switch in their coin toss strategy, often electing to defer when they win. Jason Garrett has stated that he thinks it’s beneficial to kick off to start the game, especially on the road, and that sometimes provides Dallas with one less first half possession than their opponents.
The primary reason I see it as beneficial to start on defense is that there’s a psychological advantage going into halftime knowing you’ll start the second half with the ball. There’s a big difference between being down seven points and kicking off to start the third quarter and being down seven with the ball. Plus, if you can properly time how you manage the end of the second quarter—which is much easier than effectively managing the end of the game because it isn’t entirely dictated by the score—you can “steal” a possession. That is, if you manage to end the first half with the ball, you can stay even in possessions in the first half and have the advantage of getting first possession in the second. In a league that is becoming more and more high-scoring, possessions are at a premium.
The Cowboys really mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half against the Eagles. With a 1st and Goal at the Eagles’ one-yard line and 45 seconds remaining on the clock (and counting), Dallas called a timeout. They scored on the next play, kicking off with 41 seconds left in the half and allowing Philadelphia to drive for a field goal. Those three points were basically a gift, as the Cowboys really should have waited at least 15 or so extra seconds before calling a timeout. It was their first timeout, so with 30 seconds to go in the first half, they would have had plenty of time to run any play they wished. Instead, they provided Philadelphia with a “free” possession when it wasn’t necessary. Yes, the defense should stop the Eagles, but football is a game of probabilities, and the ‘Boys didn’t maximize their chances of winning with that decision.
Read the rest here.
At DMN, I took a look at how the Redskins held the ‘Boys to only 6.61 net YPA.
Washington brought the heat, too, blitzing on 28 plays. All told, the Redskins either blitzed or showed blitz on over half of the Cowboys’ snaps—41 in total. That’s 56.1 percent, which is remarkable. In comparison, the Cowboys had faced a blitz or a feigned blitz on 30.2 percent of snaps coming into this game, meaning Washington mixed up their looks about twice as often as the average Dallas opponent.
Check it out at Dallas News.
At NBC, I published some initial thoughts from the game.
No “A” for Romo
Romo led a magnificent comeback, but he didn’t have his “A” stuff Thursday. I counted 10 of his passes as being off-target—about twice the normal amount. The Redskins really did a quality job of mixing up their looks; they brought heat on Romo at the appropriate times and when they didn’t, they still showed blitz.
Read the rest.
At NBC, I posted a few notes from my Cowboys-Browns film study.
Early in the contest, the Cowboys pounded the rock out of tight formations. Coming into the game, Dallas had averaged only 2.98 YPC from tight formations, compared to 4.38 YPC from spread formations (and only a small part of that difference could be explained by game situations). We saw more of the same on Sunday. Jason Garrett dialed up tight runs on the Cowboys’ first four carries, and the offense gained seven total yards. Overall, 10 of the Cowboys’ 19 designed runs were from tight formations, and they averaged 1.33 YPC. The other nine runs from spread formations weren’t incredibly efficient, but the 3.8 YPC sure beats barely over one yard per rush.
Read the entire article at NBC.
At NBC, I broke down some of my film study observations from the Cowboys’ Week 10 win in Philly:
- One of the reasons the Cowboys’ backs were able to find some success on the ground is that we saw some surprising creativity in the running game, especially early. On the first drive alone, Jason Garrett called a fake toss-fullback dive, toss, counter, and draw. The ‘Boys rushed eight times on that initial series for 47 yards (5.88 YPC).
- The Cowboys showed playaction four times on the day—just a bit more than their average. Tony Romo completed only two of those four passes for two total yards. One of the looks was a screen to Jason Witten that didn’t look right from the start, and on another Romo simply missed Miles Austin downfield. Remember, of the league’s 32 starting quarterbacks, 29 have a higher YPA on playaction than straight dropbacks, so it would behoove Garrett to continue to dial the up despite the lack of success against Philadelphia.
Read the rest at NBC.
Over at NBC, I published some stats from my film review. . .
- We saw two screens from the Cowboys—one to Lance Dunbar and one to Miles Austin. The ‘Boys have now tried only 12 screen passes in all of 2012, and only seven of those have been to running backs. If the rationale for Garrett’s lack of downfield routes is poor pass protection, how can the team average less than one true screen pass per game?
- Romo, one of the league’s premiere deep ball passers over the past few years, attempted only three deep passes (traveling at least 20 yards past the line-of-scrimmage) against the Falcons—through no fault of his own. He completed two of them for 94 yards and a touchdown. Until Garrett opens up the offense, there will be no running game and defenders can continue to sit on routes.
Read the whole article.
For those who are unaware, I live in New York City. The fact that I’m fighting through this hurricane to bring you Cowboys analysis proves just how mentally tough I am as a blogger. Seriously though, they’re saying my power is going to go out any minute now, so if I don’t post anything for a day or two, that’s why. Here are my initial thoughts on yesterday’s game:
Let’s start with the good; Rob Ryan’s defense is playing magnificent football. As I predicted before the game, the Cowboys sat back in Cover 2 and Cover 2 Man-Under for the majority of the contest, daring the Giants to run the football. New York could never get anything started on the ground, rushing for 3.68 YPC. Through the air, the Cowboys held Eli Manning to just 192 yards, 6.62 YPA, no touchdowns, and an interception. Neither Hakeem Nicks nor Victor Cruz totaled more than 46 yards.
Read the entire article at NBC.
At Dallas News, I gave numerous examples of Jason Garrett minimizing his team’s chances of winning on Sunday. The Cowboys really beat the Panthers in spite of their head coach.
The Cowboys left Carolina with a win, but that doesn’t mean that they deserved it. The offense was again completely stagnant, incapable of getting much going through the air or on the ground. Ultimately, Dallas was victorious in spite of the ultra-conservative play-calling from their head coach.
3rd and 9
With 3:39 left in the game, the Cowboys faced a 3rd and 9 at the Panthers’ 15-yard line. Down by one point, it seemed obvious that the Cowboys would attempt to put themselves in position for the go-ahead touchdown. Instead, Garrett called for a Phillip Tanner run right up the middle, inexplicably settling for a field goal attempt. There was just enough time left on the clock for Carolina to move down the field for the game-winning field goal, but not so much that the Cowboys could expect to get the ball back.
The decision ultimately worked out, but that doesn’t make it a good one. Over the past decade, the Cowboys have had 129 plays on 3rd and 9, passing on 88.4 percent of them. When they passed, the ‘Boys converted a first down 36.0 percent of the time—compared to 26.7 percent when they ran. Plus, the turnover percentage on the passes (6.1 percent) was lower than on the runs (13.3 percent). As the offensive coordinator of what could potentially be one of the league’s more explosive offenses, you have to trust your quarterback to make a good decision in that situation.
Read the entire article at DMN.
My initial reactions to the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Bears are posted at NBC.
I didn’t think it was possible that I’d ever say a quarterback who threw five interceptions had a good game, but Tony Romo really wasn’t all that poor last night. Three of his interceptions were the direct result of a miscue by a receiver or his offensive line, and the final two were in garbage time. Romo was also hindered by excessive drops and poor route-running. It isn’t like Romo was on fire, but he sure didn’t play as poor as his five-interception stat line indicates.
Read the entire article here.