Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Musings - Tendencies

Tomorrow, we dive back into our Cowboys routine (Analyze the Falcons), as the bye week is over. Until then, here are 5,000 Words of Football Dorkdom:

I want to show you the results of a study or two we did during the bye week about the Cowboys offense. Hopefully, by now, you have some interest in our findings every Tuesday during the Season with our various "Football 301" studies. Well, this week, and then the week after Thanksgiving will allow us a day or two to catch our breath and look at the bigger picture.

Here are two things we wanted to look at:

1) - Tendancies of the Cowboys offense. Every week, we look at the raw numbers of the personnel packages , but what do they like to do in certain situations? If you are a Defensive Coordinator who is preparing to play the Dallas Cowboys, you would have all of these stats on a chart, so that during the week, you learn what Jason Garrett does and when he does it.

1st and 10 is the most base of plays. There are no down and distance considerations at all. In these spots, Garrrett chooses to run 57% of the time. If you are interested, the NFL runs 52% of the time on 1st and 10. But, then what? That was the question of our study:

What do the Cowboys like to do on 2nd Down? They Run 36.4% of the time.
SituationPlaysShotgunRun-FDPass-FDSuccess %
2nd & 1-31338 - 65 - 369.2%
2nd & 4-7301213 - 517 - 843.3%
2nd & 8+472515 - 232 - 617%

Table Tutorial

Let's move to the all-important 3rd Down - where they run 23.3% of the time:
SituationPlaysShotgunRun - FDPass - FDSuccess %
3rd & 1-31265 - 57 - 583.3%
3rd & 4-71192 - 19 - 336.4%
3rd & 8+28285 - 023 - 621.4%

Table Tutorial

I understand you are looking at plenty of numbers here, but the things that jump out at me initially is how bad this team is on 3rd down. Also, how bad they are on 2nd or 3rd down and more than 8. The Cowboys have run 55 pass plays on 2nd or 3rd and 8+ and have converted 12 times! 12-55 in those situations is not what you would expect of a dynamic offense. 21.8% means that most of the time, 2nd and long then becomes 3rd and long. And 3rd and long becomes a punt. This is why Roy Williams and the WRs must be better in getting in sync with Tony Romo.

If it stays like it is, I think Garrett must consider running on 2nd and long. This, gives you a chance to set up a 3rd and short or medium where opposing blitzes should be much less likely.

What used to be a real weapon for this team has now turned into a real weakness. There was a time in 2007 that the Cowboys were nothing short of amazing on 3rd down. Now, 3rd and 8+ they are 26th in the NFL. 3rd and 10+ they are 29th in the NFL! 3 teams have converted fewer times on 3rd and 10+ than the Cowboys (2). They are: Buffalo (1), Chicago (1), and Philadelphia with 0! So, there are a few teams worse, but the point is there are 28 teams better. New York is 6-15 on 3rd and 10+ so why are the Cowboys 2 for 21?

This is altogether discouraging, but last week we saw that the Cowboys were positively dynamite in other situations like "22" personnel:
They are running 67% out of this look. The defense knows it. And yet they are getting steamrolled. And, to me, that is where Witten/Bennett are dominating linebackers at the point of attack. To show run, and to still get 8.44 yards per carry is something that the coaches realize, and the rest of the NFL does, too. In 2008, the Cowboys ran this look 5.75 times per game, now they are running it over 10 times.

So, is it time to realize what they do well? Power Run and Short Pass. And what they don't do well? Convert on long passing situations. And does that explain why they are starting to run more and more on 1st and 10? I would hope so.


And since we are looking at what the Cowboys do poorly, check this out.

2) Goal to Go. Horrible. Atlanta comes to Dallas with a Goal to Go record to be proud of. Only the Vikings have matched the Falcons record of 11 GtG Touchdowns this season. Ask any personnel man why this is, and they will show you Tony Gonzalez and a solid running game. And then they will tell you how much Brett Favre loves using his Tight End in the red zone and the Vikings running game, too.

Wait! Don't the Cowboys have a great TE? And a great running game? What is going on here? If the Falcons are 11-12 in TDs after getting a GtG situation, and the Vikings are 11-13, then why are the Cowboys 6-13, and 26th in the NFL?

If there is any issue that needs to be cured quickly, this is the one that I hope they concentrated on during the bye week. You must come away with points when you get the chance in the NFL.

Look at 2nd and 3rd Down and Goal to Go:
SituationPlaysShotgunRun - TDPass - TDSuccess %
2nd & Goal943 - 16 - 011%
3rd & Goal852 - 16 - 125%
Total1795 - 212 - 118%

Table Tutorial

As a quick note of reference, it helps to know where you were inside the 10 on these plays. On 2nd and Goal, the average yard line was the 4, and on 3rd and Goal, the average yard line was 3 1/2. Think about that for a second.

Now, consider this: The Cowboys are 1-12 on passes in this situation? 1 for 12? Could you, complete 1 for 12 if given the QB spot in your dreams? This is flat out dreadful. If this improves, the Cowboys can compete in the playoffs. If it doesn't, Jason Garrett should be fired and Tony Romo should be doubted severely.

And you want the most frustrating result of this 1-12 stat on passes on 2nd or 3rd and Goal? The one success was the one and only time Jason Witten was targeted. The other 11 passes were to people not named Witten, and the failure rate was 100%.

Here is a good chance to remind us where the Cowboys are going with the ball on 3rd down this season:

3rd Down Targets - Season Totals

Table Tutorial

82. 82. 82. 82. 82. 82.

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