Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Decoding Garrett - Week 13 - Data - NY Giants

This loss is going to hurt for a while. And it starts with the dynamic performance from the offense. You seldom lose games where you have 3 different drives that go 80 yards and score touchdowns each time. Also, you seldom lose when your offense converts on 50% of the 3rd Down opportunities. That 50% (5-10) was the 2nd best game all season in that category, trailing only the spectacular performance against Buffalo.

And you seldom lose when you roll up 445 yards. The Cowboys average 390 yards per game offensively, but usually when they are above 430, they are very tough to beat. San Francisco (473), Detroit (433), St Louis (441), Seattle (442), Buffalo (439), and now, New York (445) all fall in that category. Only the Detroit and New York games were losses, and I think most would agree that the Cowboys played well enough to win those two games. In the case of the Detroit game, they at least could blame turnovers as the difference. But, this contest only featured 1 Cowboys' turnovers, and the teams were even.

When analyzing simply the offense, it is very hard to pick on their performance on Sunday. They put up huge numbers and a huge point total and from an offensive standpoint, that should absolutely be enough to win the game.

Here is a number that might make you sick: Since 1998, the Cowboys have lost only 2 games in which they have scored 34 points. This one, and last year's home game against the New York Giants. That game was lost 41-35, as the Cowboys could not slow down Eli Manning in Arlington. Sound familiar? Sunday, the score was 37-34, and the Cowboys lost again in Arlington to Eli Manning.

Here is another number that might make you equally sick: December 3, 1989, was the last time a Cowboys QB threw for 4 Touchdowns and lost a game. That day, rookie QB Troy Aikman threw for 4 TDs in a 35-31 loss to Jim Everett and the Los Angeles Rams. All time, the Cowboys are 25-6 in those cases. It was Romo's 6th 4 Touchdown game and he had won the first 5.

It appears, from a purely offensive standpoint, that the team has to be prepared to score nearly every possession when they play the Giants. And they did a near-fabulous job. But, they left points on the field in the 4th Quarter with the miss to Austin on 3rd Down and the blocked Field Goal. And as crazy as it seems, that was enough to take the loss. There was almost no margin for error for the offense on Sunday night because the defense was so bad.

It was the 14th time in Dallas Cowboys history they had conceded 500 yards (510) in total offense to their opponent. They have won just 3 of those games.

The Cowboys finally had their full arsenal of weapons present with Miles Austin back into the mix, and the Cowboys looked like a very powerful offense. In fact, their average yards to go on 3rd Down was 2nd best all season long (5.2) to the Seattle game. They still clearly didn't believe in their offensive line holding off the Giants front, but I would not debit Garrett on that. I would say if there is any offensive line in which you better be careful about, it would be the one that knocked your QB out for the season last time they visited. Quick passes, short drops, and don't ask your OL or QB to hold the fort longer than they are capable.

The full arsenal was short-lived as DeMarco Murray was lost for the year, which should trouble just about everyone around this organization. It will be tempting for Garrett to fall back into a majority of "shotgun" snaps with Felix since that seems to be where Jones is more comfortable rather than the under center "21" or "22" runs with a FB. One could certainly imagine the Cowboys not using Fiammetta much with Jones moving forward, based on Felix's extremely short resume of FB success.

Meanwhile, Phil Costa made it 26 snaps before suffering a concussion. Kevin Kowalski replaced him for the final 33 plays and did an admirable job. Again, Garrett was smart not to ask the offense to do too much on a play by play basis.

In summary, some solid results and the offense can take some solace in some great raw numbers. However, there will be enough gnashing of teeth about the missed opportunity to ice the game on the 3rd Down pass to Miles that would have iced the game.

There is only one statistic that matters.

Data from Week 13 vs Giants

1st Down Run-Pass12-18
2nd Down Avg Distance to Go7.78
2nd Down Run-Pass10-9
3rd Down Avg Distance to Go5.20
3rd Down Run-Pass2-8
3rd Down Conversions5-10, 50%

HTML Tables

Drive Starters - 1st play of each drive can often reveal the intent of a coach to establish his game plan.

Notice, again, the trend of believing in the run game. It happens more at home than on the road. It happens early in games more than late. In order to get run game production, you have to give it a chance. And Sunday, they let it breathe a bit and got some decent results. But, with Murray getting hurt, time will tell if they believe in it down the stretch - starting on the road in Tampa Bay.

Wk 1-At New York Jets: 13 Drives - 5 Run/8 Pass
Wk 2-At San Francisco: 10 Drives - 4 Run/6 Pass
Wk 3-Washington: 11 Drives - 5 Run/6 Pass
Wk 4-Detroit: 14 Drives - 7 Run/7 Pass
Wk 5-At New England: 11 Drives - 4 Run/7 Pass
Wk 6-St Louis: 11 Drives - 8 Run/3 Pass
Wk 7-At Philadelphia - 9 Drives - 2 Run/7 Pass
Wk 8-Seattle - 11 Drives - 4 Run/7 Pass
Wk 9-Buffalo - 10 Drives - 7 Run/3 Pass
Wk 10-At Washington - 14 Drives - 4 Run/10 Pass
Wk 11-Miami - 11 Drives - 5 Run/6 Pass
Wk 12-At Arizona - 11 Drives - 3 Run/8 Pass
Wk 13-New York - 12 Drives - 7 Run/5 Pass
Total: 148 Drives - 65 Run/83 Pass 44% Run

Here is the breakdown by groupings:

Before you study the data below, I would recommend that if the numbers for the groupings are unfamiliar, that you spend some time reading a more expanded definition of the Personnel Groupings here.

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Totals by Personnel Groups on 3rd/4th Down:

Table Tutorial

Shotgun snaps are fine on 3rd Down and in the 2 minute drill. But, we track this stat from week to week to make sure the Cowboys aren't getting too lazy in using it. They are not efficient enough to run it as their base, and with a 15%/85% run/pass split across the league, there is no way the defense respects your running game.

On Sunday Night, we see that the Cowboys went to the shotgun quite a bit again. In fact, percentage wise, 48.3% of the time, the Cowboys were in shotgun. Only the San Francisco game had more shotgun - 48.4% - and you will recall that the Cowboys went to straight shotgun once they fell behind in that game. These numbers are somewhat skewed as Dallas found itself in 2-minute drill in both halves.


Wk 1 - NYJ: 24/66
Wk 2 - SF: 32/66
Wk 3 - Wash: 27/62
Wk 4 - Det: 29/75
Wk 5 - NE 31/67
Wk 6 - StL 10/60
Wk 7 - Phi 39/49
Wk 8 - Sea 19/59
Wk 9 - Buf 15/61
Wk 10-Was 24/73
Wk 11-Mia 25/58
Wk 12-Arz 29/67
Wk 13-NYG 28/58

Total - 332/820 40.4%


Tomorrow, we shall focus on the snap-by-snap deployment of DeMarcus Ware to try to get answers on why Eli Manning was barely touched in his performance.

And please email me at if you have questions that I may clarify in an upcoming email blog.

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