Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wednesday Musings - Tendencies

I am always making sure I recognize DC Fanatic for his wonderful work with the video portion of our blog, but I wonder if I mention Shawn from Florida enough. Although I have never met either one of these guys in person, they both are invaluable for the research we attempt to accomplish every day here at Bob's Blog. Shawn calculates much of the raw data that I collect after each down of Cowboys offense and attempts to help me come to some conclusions.

This type of data is much more global in its conclusions, rather than Football 301 which focuses on specific plays.

Therefore, this data is not something I would put out there every week. I think the last time we looked at this was During the Bye Week , then this time during the Thanksgiving break, and finally after the season is over.

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 DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass
2nd DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass
3rd DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass

HTML Tables


1st DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass
2nd DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass
3rd DownPlaysYardsAvgRun/Pass

HTML Tables

Now, I admit that is a ton of data to digest, but I wanted to show it to you to demonstrate the "Shotgun" vs. "Under Center" debate. My issue with Shotgun under Jason Garrett is simply that when they go shotgun, they are too easy to defend. Now, I have been asked a few times by readers why the Saints, Patriots, and Colts can all run way more Shotgun but not be a victim of tendencies, too?

Well, to me, it comes down to quality of your personnel. For instance, in the 1990's, we would always hear that the Cowboys of the Super Bowl dynasties only ran about 7 different plays, but they ran them with such dominance and precision that you couldn't stop it. I would say the Saints, Patriots, and Colts all have execution levels and personnel quality that is such that even though you know what they want to do, you cannot stop it.

With the 2009 Cowboys (and 2008, for that matter), the Cowboys have not demonstrated they can withstand the issues of predictability. When they become predictable, their offensive line pass protection breaks down, receivers cannot get open, and the QB cannot always deliver the ball. The Cowboys have good players, but not dominant players, in my estimation, and therefore, the idea of defensive uncertainty aids their efforts.

And how do we achieve uncertainty in the defense? Run your offense from under center. As the charts above show, when the Tony Romo snaps the ball directly from Andre Gurode, the offense calls 6 run plays and 4 pass plays per 10 snaps. 229 of 364 plays are runs.

However, when they run plays out of the Shotgun, the chart above shows that roughly 9 out of every 10 plays are pass plays. 243 of 278 shotgun plays are passes.

Here are some other findings from the data above:

* - The Cowboys best results in the PASSING game would be 1st and 10 from under center, where the Cowboys have passed 76 times for a 620 yards (a staggering 8.16 yards per attempt). Proving, that you can get the best results when the defense doesn't know you are passing.

* - The Cowboys worst results in the PASSING game would be 3rd down from the Shotgun, when the Cowboys have passed 96 times for just 562 yards (5.85 yards per attempt).

* - Overall, the Cowboys pass better from under center (7.39 yards per attempt) than they do from Shotgun (7.10 ypa).

* - In every scenario, the Cowboys can run the football with great effectiveness. This is a power running football team - forgive my repetition in saying this, but some people do not get it.

I have a ton of other stats, many I might offer tomorrow since we have already analyzed the New York Giants back in Week 2.


John said...

I noticed Monday night on the broadcast that they were talking about how much the Saints used the shotgun formation and just in general how much more the league in general is using the "shotgun" formation.

Cowboys 43.3%

League Average
Year Pct
2008 32.3%
2007 27.0%
2006 19.4%
2005 15.6%
2004 13.0%
2003 14.3%
2002 13.9%
2001 14.1%
2000 13.0%
1999 12.4%


Doctorjorts said...

This is an interesting analysis, Bob, but I think it lacks a lot without anything to compare to. How do other teams fair in passing the ball on first down from under center, or in passing on first down period? Remember that 1st down is usually the down with the longest distance to go, so the offense might be more likely to run a play designed for bigger yardage on 1st & 10 than on 3rd & inches.

Also, your argument breaks down when you look at 3rd down shotgun running plays. That's the exact opposite of the 1st down under-center passing play, in that you set up to hit the defense for something they aren't expecting. And yet they have the worst per-attempt average of any of the 6 categories.

Sturminator said...

Jorts- The nature of 3rd down shotgun runs are often a "give-up" by an offense (like a dump off pass) to simply find a few more yards to give your punter when you are on your end of the field. Therefore, a shotgun run on 3rd and 14 is some of the most irrelevant data one could find. Similar to passing stats against prevent defenses, IMO.

Popsicle Stick Chick said...

I think you mean tendencies:

Movement in a given direction

Not tendancies.

Sturminator said...

Um, Oops. Spelling is hard.

Doctorjorts said...

Bob, I agree that the 3rd and long draw is a "give-up" play, but if your argument holds, it still ought to get more yards than the other running plays, not less. If people are totally selling out to stop the pass from the shotgun, why in the world can we only manage 4.1 yards/carry?

DJT said...

Is there any way you can send this to Jason Garrett and make SURE he reads it????? Please!

Rudyjax said...

I'd like to see the overall percentage under center versus shotgun for each down. I guess I could do it, but that's what Sturm is for.