The offensive line had its worst pass protection day of the season by certain measures, with Right Tackle being a particular spot of great concern with their performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Perhaps, it is best that we are reminded one final time why this season has been disappointing from the offense despite some very nice numbers and personal performances from many skill position players. There is a distinction between fantasy football and real football that tells fans of real teams that numbers can be pretty hollow and pointless if they are not put together in the context of quality team football. In other words, Fantasy Football is a fantasy.
I think we must be reminded that after we discuss who should be the coach and how often pads will be worn and other things that do matter, we should not forget how bad the offensive line has been this season. Not that you were going to forget.
I feared that in the 2nd half of the season that the Cowboys OL would play well, because the obvious deduction would be that it was practice protocol that doomed the Cowboys' season - rather than the reality that many of the players on the OL need to be replaced.
Most weeks, we complain about the running game, but let's also not forget the pass protection issues that have been present throughout. They aren't horrid (like Chicago) at pass protection - we think. After all, the Cowboys have conceded 29 sacks and the Bears have allowed 50. So, subtraction tells us the Cowboys are 21 sacks better at pass protection.
But, shouldn't we consider coaching strategy? Mike Martz is notorious for throwing caution to the wind in his protection schemes and his teams lead the league every season in sacks conceded. He wants as many players in pass routes as possible, and is willing to allow his QB to get hit to make sure that he is not "wasting receivers" by keeping a TE and a RB in to block. He is willing to make that trade for the big plays it produces.
Garrett, conversely, gets conservative to protect his QB. He runs a ton of Shotgun, he keeps Witten and a RB in routinely to help protect, and will not risk sacks like Martz does.
So, is the Cowboys OL superior to Chicago's? Or do we just see the difference in coaching philosophy?
Which leads us to Saturday Night. In 2010 before the Cardinals game, the Cowboys have run 199 pass plays that began under center. Of those 199 pass plays, they had allowed 7 sacks, or 1 every 28 snaps.
But, on Saturday, they tried 17 pass plays from under center and were sacked 4 times, or 1 every 4.25 snaps.
We will look at the sacks tomorrow individually, because mostly it was a case of Marc Colombo getting abused like he did in Minnesota last season in the playoffs when Colombo was destroyed by multiple Cardinals in the game. When he is bad, he is really, really bad it seems.
The point is that Cowboys work best when they can run their offense from under center and mix the pass and run and keep the defense off balance. Their offense struggles when they can't do either consistently. Saturday, with the exception of the ridiculous Green Bay game, was easily the worst performance of the passing game from under center with 2.05 yards per attempt.
And I submit to you that most of the reason was that the QB had no time before his pocket collapsed.
If you add to this the reality that there are many weeks where they cannot run block, then you see the problem here. Name any coach you would like and do anything you want with the organizational power structure but understand this - you must get the OL fixed to see this team get where it needs to go.
And to think that Andre Gurode is a Pro Bowl Starter. Amazing.
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
Wk 15: 32
Here is the Data from a thriller against Washington:
|1st Down Run-Pass||19-14|
|2nd Down Avg Distance to Go||8.79|
|2nd Down Run-Pass||9-15|
|3rd Down Avg Distance to Go||7.11|
|3rd Down Run-Pass||5-13|
|3rd Down Conversions||8-18, 44%|
Some very key throws on 3rd Down from both of the QBs for the Cowboys really helped save the day.
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
Wk 15-Arizona: 13 Drives - 7 Run/6 Pass
85 Run/83 Pass
Here is the breakdown by groupings:
Totals by Personnel Groups:
Notice all of the passing production coming out of Shotgun.
Totals by Personnel Groups on 3rd/4th Down:
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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