The first thing we want to examine is where Tony Romo is throwing the ball. We do that by charting the target distribution. And for the 2nd week in a row, there is no question who the premier pass catcher on this team is - and he wears #19:
Target Distribution: - Week 2 vs Chicago
A couple interesting numbers to ponder from above; Austin was 10 of 15, but of course had a very bad drop and also was to blame for the 1st interception when he was body rocked. The INT will really hit the QB Rating hard. Dez Bryant was thrown the ball 10 fewer times than he was in Week 1. Like I mentioned already this week, that may be more an issue of fewer snaps, but I do not have the exact numbers. It just seems that his development is being managed as teams around the league may try to take advantage of him if he doesn't have a firm grasp. For instance, if I am game-planning against a player who doesn't always know his "hot route" responsibility, then I am more likely to blitz from him - making him the QB's first read. I would force Tony to connect with Dez to beat my blitz. This league is very smart, and I would imagine that is what the Cowboys are trying to sort out posthaste.
Partly because of Witten's concussion and partly because the game worked out that way, Martellus Bennett was thrown the ball on 8 different occasions - surely his career high as a Cowboy. However, it should be noted that all 8 were of the short, "dump off" variety and none of them went for a 1st Down. Again, for "12" or "S12" personnel to be powerful, they will have to prove to the opponent that Marty is a downfield threat on occasion. Brad Johnson hit him down the seam in the closing minutes of the debacle in St Louis 2 seasons ago. Beyond that, it really just hasn't happened.
We detailed in Monday's write up that Tony Romo - despite normally being great on 3rd Down - did not play well on the "money" down against the Bears. Here is the proof:
3RD/4TH Down Targets - Week 2 vs Chicago
What is odd about those numbers on 3rd Down is that the 3 conversions they did have were all beautiful deep passes to Roy Williams and Dez Bryant. So, it wasn't all bad, but you can tell the Bears were sitting on the Witten hook pattern with Briggs and Urlacher on several occasions.
Now, the numbers through 2 weeks:
Target Distribution - Season To Date
If you had Jason Witten predicted as the "least productive" receiver so far, you are a prophet. He is generally at or near the top of this list. It is early, but so far, very little production from the familiar connection.
3RD/4TH Down Targets - Season To Date
Bottom line on all of this, if Romo's 3rd and 4th Down passer rating is going to be in the 50's, this team won't win 6 games. The good news is that we are almost assured that he will bounce back to his usual self soon enough. But how good has that been? In 2009, Romo had a passer rating of 81.4 on 3rd Down. That was only 20th best in the NFL - way behind the Top 5: 1) Rodgers, GB, 133.5 2) E Manning, NY, 112.6, 3) P Manning, IND, 110.2, 4) T Brady, NE, 103.5, and 5) D Brees, NO, 101.9.
Keeping track of which Bears' defenders Romo was throwing at did not tell us too much - they play such a blanket zone that sometimes it is difficult for a QB to isolate on one defender and attempt to attack him.
This is extremely unofficial and experimental. Obviously, there are a number of occasions where a defense is in a loose zone or passes off a receiver from one defender to the next. So, I note on each particular play which DB is appearing to be in coverage, and if there is not one - this happens plenty - then I do not mark down on any man's ledger.
|35 - Zack Bowman||11|
|33 - Charles Tillman||8|
|30 - DJ Moore||5|
|54 - Brian Urlacher||5|
|55 - Lance Briggs||3|
The more we do this study, the more we are starting to see that Romo is a predominant "throw right" passer. It doesn't appear to be an issue of who is out there, it appears to be an issue of most QBs favoring the "front side" of the play. I would imagine that Zach Bowman and DeAngelo Hall last week see tons more work every week because they are LCB (lined up on a QB's right).
The Cowboys Offensive Line gave up 0 sacks on Sunday against the Bears. Therefore, there is no need to break down any sacks this week. I am, however, trying to keep another stat from week to week, and that is the number of times Jason Witten must "stay in" to help pass protect versus times where he can release into a pass route. This is very important to understand when you are dealing with a new LT - Doug Free and other hurdles with the front line. Again, at first, we have nothing to compare these numbers to, but you would think they would have Witten helping out a fair amount against Julius Peppers.
Jason Witten - Week 2
|Pass Route||Pass Protect|
Season To Date Sacks
The Rankings for the season in Sacks Allowed among the OL: Gurode 1