I talked to Jason Garrett in training camp about his offense in rather deep detail (by my standards) and told him what I thought his most effective personnel package was. In that Jason Garrett Way, he agreed with me (I think) without totally letting me inside his brain. And then he escaped as fast as he could to find media members who were not going to try to talk deep X's and O's with him. I'll track him down again, but he is busier now than ever.
If you would like to hear that entire visit, you can by clicking here .
We discussed the awesomeness of "22", and that in 2009, it was the Cowboys most run grouping from under center - and with good reason. In 140 rushing attempts, the Cowboys ran for 812 yards or a silly 5.8 yards per carry. Now, this is not to be understated. When you send "22" on the field (2 RBs & 2 TEs) the defense loads up to stop the run. So think about it. They are loading up to stop your run and you are still gashing them for nearly 6 yards a pop for the entire season! Power football, baby.
Anyway, I tell you that because it is my belief (and I hope you had a chance to read what we discussed on this topic last week) that the Cowboys best package in 2009 has pretty much become its worst package of 2010. It is the ground and pound of "22" personnel.
In 2010, the Cowboys had run the ball 92 times out of the "22" for a grand total of 318 yards. That's 3.45 yards per carry. Pedestrian. Enough for the defense to say, "no worries", and enough for the play caller to look for another idea.
But, Garrett knows that it was what all of the success of 2009 was based upon. Not to say that your QB and WRs don't matter, but they matter so much more in fantasy football. In real football, you move the ball because the defense is put between a rock and a hard place. With no rock, you can not send them to a hard place. And for much of the year, the Cowboys can no longer declare "power run" and then pull it off. Rather, their minimal running success has come from the "ambush runs" - such as a Shotgun run with 3 WRs on the field distracting the defense. They still count, but they do not make the defense nearly as uncomfortable.
So, let's apply this to the Jason Garrett era (6 weeks worth of football):
Weeks 1-8, "22" Rushing: 37-100, 2.7 yards per carry.
Not 100 yards per game. 100 yards for the first 8 weeks of the year. 12 yards per week. After dominating in 2009. This must make the coaches pull their hair out.
Then, with Garrett saying he wanted to change the physicality of the team in his first press conference and reintroduce contact in practice, we see some results:
Weeks 9-14, "22" Rushing: 67-290, 4.33 yards per carry.
It sure isn't 2009 production, but it also doesn't resemble the mess of the first 2 months. Progress. Not fixed, because that is going to require some personnel changes, but progress.
Now, look at this: In the 4 wins since Garrett has taken over, the Cowboys "22" package has run 51 times for 261 yards, 5.11 per carry. And in the losses to the Saints and Eagles, they had 16 carries for 29 yards, or 1.81 per carry.
Not saying it is the only reason for the wins and losses, but it sure does help.
And on Sunday, against a Redskins front that has shown they don't stand up to the run, the Cowboys ran 12 times right at Washington with "22", and they rolled up 6 yards per carry.
Wk 1: 33
Wk 2: 33
Wk 3: 22
Wk 4: 37
Wk 5: 18
Wk 6: 37
Wk 7: 51
Wk 8: 36
----------------Wade Phillips Fired---------------
Wk 9: 12
Wk 10: 14
Wk 11: 33
Wk 12: 20
Wk 13: 29
Wk 14: 26
Here is the Data from a thriller against Washington:
|1st Down Run-Pass||18-15|
|2nd Down Avg Distance to Go||7.0|
|2nd Down Run-Pass||10-13|
|3rd Down Avg Distance to Go||6.77|
|3rd Down Run-Pass||2-11|
|3rd Down Conversions||5-13, 38%|
We see that when things operate ideally, it is Garrett's preference to keep the defense as off balance as possible right out of the gate each drive with a good mixture of personnel groupings and play calls:
Wk 1-At Washington: 10 Drives - 6 Run/4Pass
Wk 2-Chicago: 10 Drives - 3 Run/7 Pass
Wk 3-At Houston: 8 Drives - 8 Run/0 Pass
Wk 4-Tennessee: 12 Drives - 5 Run/7 Pass
Wk 5-At Minnesota: 11 Drives - 7 Run/4 Pass
Wk 6-New York: 14 Drives - 3 Run/11 Pass
Wk 7-Jacksonville: 11 Drives - 3 Run/8 Pass
Wk 8-At Green Bay: 10 Drives - 3 Run/7 Pass
Wk 9-At New York: 12 Drives - 8 Run/4 Pass
Wk 10-Detroit: 11 Drives - 6 Run/5 Pass
Wk 11-New Orleans: 12 Drives - 5 Run/7 Pass
Wk 12-Indianapolis: 11 Drives - 10 Run/1 Pass
Wk 13-Philadelphia: 12 Drives - 5 Run/7 Pass
Wk 14-Washington: 11 Drives - 6 Run/5 Pass
78 Run/77 Pass
Here is the breakdown by groupings:
Totals by Personnel Groups:
Make sure you look at which groupings are having success running the ball. It is very revealing each week.
Totals by Personnel Groups on 3rd/4th Down:
The Cowboys connected on 3rd Down just often enough to make the difference. If there is one thing you do have to like about Kitna, it is his knack on 3rd Down. A very nice trick, indeed.
Make sure you check out the video supplement that will be posted a bit later today.
For a more expanded definition of the Personnel Groups, click here.
Make sure you check use these numbers when you look at the video breakdowns that will be posted later today.
Bob Sturm is host of BaD Radio on The Ticket 1310 AM Mondays through Fridays at 12-3 p.m. He also hosts The Ticket's Cowboys pregame show. Follow Bob on Twitter at
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