Friday, December 31, 2010

Mavericks vs Spurs ADS 12/30/10

Bob: Quite interested in the ADS ratings for this particular game with those Spurs-

The point of ADS is to show that not all shots are created equal, when you consider how a Guard scores:

For instance, Tony Parker's shots: 1, 7, 6, 1, 4, 5, 3, 3, 18, 24, 7, 21, 1, 22, 1, 18 for his 16 shots for an ADS of 8.9.

Meanwhile, Jason Kidd's: 22, 1, 8, 25, 26, 23, 4, 8, 15, 19, 1, 8, 30, 24, 23 for 15 shots ADS for 15.8

Ginobili: 14, 25, 25, 25, 6, 25, 28, 25, 25, 23, 18 for an ADS of 21.7

I really am interested in seeing who scores and shoots from the rim or from behind the arc or close to it.

Here are Tim's charts:

Mavericks 12/30/10
Team Total
Spurs 12/30/10
Team Total

Thanks to Heath Huston for the data.

Cowboys Tweet-bag!

Let's answer some tweets as we head into Game 16 with very little yet to learn about the 2010 Dallas Cowboys:

#1 - Tweet from @joncapezzuto:

"Based on current records, how would a win (or loss) this weekend change the Cowboy's first round draft position next year?"

This is the one that I have been asked by everyone. Where are we in the draft? Ah, the joys of 5-10!

Anyway, here is the situation for the Cowboys. They currently stand at #7, and although this kind of talk is usually ridiculed by someone like me, allow me to tell the truth; Nothing would be worse than the Cowboys winning on Sunday! It would surely knock the Cowboys out of #7, perhaps all the way out of the Top 10. Given the lack of "Blue Chips" at the top of the 1st Round, I would definitely say that this is no time to pull off the biggest upset of your season. Trouble is, the Eagles won't be pulling out all of the stops either, so I don't know what to expect.

Here is how the 1st Round looks right now:

1. Carolina, locked in, 2-13
2. Denver, 4-11, H - San Diego
3. Cincinnati, 4-11, A - Balt
4. Buffalo, 4-11, A - NYJ
5. Arizona, 5-10, A - SF
6. San Francisco, 5-10, H - Arz
7. Dallas, 5-10, A - Phil
8. Houston, 5-10, H - Jack
9. Detroit, 5-10, H - Minn
10. Cleveland, 5-10, H - Pitt

As you can see, great news at #5 and #6 as Arizona and San Francisco play eachother. Someone has to win! Otherwise, very few candidates for wins on this list above Dallas. So, I would be shocked if they get any higher than #6. But, #6 is a reasonable spot to be in this draft. You just want to hope that 2 QBs go before you pick, so the odds of Nick Fairley or Patrick Patterson sliding down to you improve.

#2 - Tweet from @blackhat4444

"what kind of draft pick could we get for mbIII and could Columbo be an effective guard now that he has lost a step or two?

Unless I misunderstood this tweet, I believe Blackhat4444 wants to know what sort of pick Marion Barber would bring back. I don't believe they could get any pick back for Barber. He will get a chance to play next year, but not for his contract he presently has. According to my numbers, he is on the books for: 2011: $4.25 million, 2012: $5.75 million, 2013: $6.25 million, 2014: $7 million. Nobody is trading a sack of footballs for that deal.

As for moving Colombo, after seeing the Cowboys attempt to move a CB to Safety this year, I hesitate to think too optimistically about their ability to have a guy play a position he has not played in a very long time (if ever). I realize replacing Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo in one offseason is asking a bit much, but I think that is what the Cowboys need to consider. One thought on that front that I might have is that I think the Cowboys are comfortable with Doug Free at Right or Left Tackle, so if they find either one in the draft in the Top 2 picks (6 and 38?) they have one tackle who is good enough and versatile enough that they don't have to worry too much on that front.

#3 - Tweet from @flact75

"my question, do cowboys use high pick to trade for more picks?"

Well, sir, my first instinct is yes. Any chance you have to collect more picks seems like the smart play when you are a team with many needs. I think the Cowboys could use secondary (2) help, defensive line help (2), and offensive line help (2). So, when you have that many needs, you try to spread your eggs out to a few baskets.

However, we have a few mitigating circumstances. Assuming the CBA is what it is, we have seen very few teams with high picks able to trade down because nobody wants the insane top-of-the-draft deals that we have seen in the last several seasons. These guaranteed money deals are the last thing that teams want, and it shows.

Now, to another big reason - the Cowboys don't seem very good at trading down. I will never forget the 2004 trade down when the Cowboys had their arms folded with deep satisfaction because Buffalo wanted JP Losman and the Cowboys could trade back from #20 to #42 and pick up an additional #1 (Marcus Spears). Well, they passed on Steven Jackson and grabbed Julius Jones. At the time, they thought the group of RBs in that range (Jackson, Jones, Tatum Bell, Chris Perry, and Kevin Jones) were "all the same". Trouble is, they weren't all the same and Jackson was the 1st to go and clearly the best. Also, Spears never played like a 1st Round pick, and the trade ended up failed.

Then, in 2009, they did it again - although not as painfully - another trade down with Buffalo. This time, Buffalo offered picks #75 and #110 to the Cowboys for #51. The Cowboys wanted WR or OL, and when Max Unger was drafted at #49, the Cowboys wanted to drop out and get more picks. Well, Buffalo took a Guard at #51 with that very pick - Andy Levitre, and he has started every single game since he was picked. A few picks later, Minnesota took Phil Loadholt, New England took Sebastian Vollmer, and the Giants grabbed William Beatty - all 3 are tackles who could start here.

Meanwhile, with #75 the Cowboys took Robert Brewster and with #110 they grabbed Victor Butler.

They just aren't very good with the trade downs.

#4 - Tweet from @Jphillips4

"should the cowboys stay in a 3-4 scheme?"

You know, this is a very good conversation and one that I suppose will depend on who the coach of this thing is. Scheme is something you don't want to jerk around too much in this league, and when you start to fill your roster with guys who are good in the 3-4, you better make sure you no longer believe it is viable before you shut it down.

I am as concerned as anyone about the way the 3-4 has looked for the most part for the last several years. Last year things fell into place, but for the most part, the 3-4 has been plenty of DeMarcus Ware success, and otherwise, it just doesn't seem to showcase the skills of many of the other defenders. Not enough pressure on the QB from the other flank, not enough takeaways. No DEs have separated themselves from the pack, and the middle LBs (Aydele, Thomas, Brooking) always look exposed.

I guess it comes down to the coaching decision. 3-4 is a nice concept, and many teams in the NFL use it very well. But, in Dallas, I can't say I am married to it. I guess I would ask 2 questions: 1) could Ware be as successful in the 4-3? and 2) how can I get the most out of Jay Ratliff? DE in the 3-4? DT in the 4-3? I need him to be special, not pretty good.

Trevor Daley's Deal

Wasn’t expecting a press release to hit my email 2 days ago announcing the Trevor Daley signing, but after pondering it from all angles, I think the Stars did pretty well here.

However, this has appeared controversial to some as I have found a few emails like this in my box:


I don’t know what Joe is thinking here. You don’t marry players like Daley. 6 years for 19 mill? Is that a joke?

You just look at this and hope Joe knows what he’s doing as everything else he’s done has turned out well. There’s just no way he would get a deal like this on the market. NO WAY. And if he went somewhere else, who cares? We’ll get another Skraskins for a mill and a half. Trevor is no longer a kid with potential. He’s 27 and has played close to 500 games now. This is as good as he’s going to get.

I hope I’m wrong about this and Joe is right like he has been.

P1 Steven,

Steven, get away from the sharp objects! Look, I will not try to convince anyone that Trevor has made us forget Sergei Zubov. But, then again, Zubov was never going to play for $3 million either. Could you imagine a 27-year old Zubov hitting free agency this coming summer? I would safely guess he would grab $6-7 annually in free agency – maybe even more. But, like I said, Trevor is no Sergei.

Here is what Trevor is to me – solid, versatile, dependable, and reasonably safe. You play him in all situations and scenarios – penalty kill (2nd most D-man), Power Play (2nd most D-man), 4 on 4, even strength, he is always out there. Stephane Robidas plays the most ice time on this team, Trevor plays the 2nd most. Frankly, I am not sure anyone would try to convince you that Daley is better than Robidas, but he is nearly 7 years younger. Robidas hits 34 in March, and as much as I love him, I also realize that he has been hit so hard so many times that you cannot always assume you can put everything on him.

You need a group of defensemen who can do different things. I do think Skrastins is a nice piece at his money, but you cannot tell me the last time Karlis did something remarkable in the offensive end of the ice. He Is a clear 1-end of the ice D-man. Daley does offense and defense. Trevor can carry the puck, he skates like the wind, he seems ready for a scrum, and he has some pretty good confidence.

I would like to see fewer meltdowns in his own end, but honestly, I compare the blue-line to a pitching staff (take the Rangers). The second the team gets an ace in here to play the #1 D-man role, then, everyone can slide down a spot and it will look better than they presently do because they will be asked to do less. Let’s face it, we have asked Robidas and Daley (and others) to do more than would be ideal. The blue-line has had the least amount of investment in the last few seasons and has done a pretty decent job given the lack or resources.

But, back to the deal. 6 years, just under $20m. First, which 6 years? Ages 28-33; the prime of his career. If he is what he is right now, the Stars did fine, if he improves anymore, the Stars got a bargain.

Understand what $3m is in NHL money. The Cap is about $59.4 million for the 23 players you have on your roster. If you base your cap on the 20 you dress each night, we are talking about 20 players and about $60m – which comes out to what? $3 per player. It is not superstar money. It is simply, average veteran player money. The idea that “he wouldn’t get this in the open market” is probably right. He would likely get more. You saw Dan Hamhuis’ deal this summer, right? 6 years/$27million. He is in tonight for Vancouver, he is about the same age (28), and plays about the same amount of ice. Zbynek Michalek signed in Pittsburgh last summer for 5 years/$20 million, at the age of 28. Anton Volchenkov, 28, grabbed a 6 year/$25.5 million deal in New Jersey last summer.

All 3 are in Trevor’s age group and demonstrate what players (with admittedly different skill sets) who fall in the “Top 4” defensemen bin, but not in the “franchise defensemen” group, get in the open market.

Now, take a look at the Stars defensemen spreadsheet moving forward: Next season, the Stars have Robidas, Nik Grossman, Matt Niskanen, and Mark Fistric signed up. We see that the Stars still don’t know what they have in Niskanen and Fistric, because neither are a given in the lineup lately. Karlis Skrastins and Jeff Woywitka are both showing some solid veteran dependability, but both are free agents and neither is considered a fixture moving forward, I don’t believe.

So, worst case, you have Robidas and Grossman heading into next season. But, you need 6 you like. This is another reason why grabbing a solid mid-tier defensemen on both ends of the ice is a wise move. You have to think big picture.

Trevor is not Sergei. In fact, nobody is, and there is a pretty good chance that nobody will be for a real long time. But, he is a strong piece of this puzzle signed at a fair price for both sides. To get him in his prime locked in here allows Joe Nieuwendyk to concentrate on more pressing matters now (Brad Richards, anyone?).

Congratulations, Trevor, on a nice stocking stuffer. Now make the deal look like a bargain.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Penalties - Game 15 - Cardinals

The Cowboys had another week where it seemed they had too many penalties and some could be easily discussed as a key element in defeat. The Marion Barber helmet penalty is nothing short of idiotic, and another 3 false start penalties that bring the Cowboys season total for presnap flags to an amazing 32!

So, is this team sliding back into the bad habits of the Wade Phillips era?

Actually, no.

For games 1-8, the Cowboys were amongst the league leaders (and that is bad) in flags and yardage. 62 penalties for 506 yards in those 8 games. The average for each game was 7.8 flags for 63 yards.

Since then, games 9-15, the Cowboys have 41 flags for 312 yards. The average under Jason Garrett is 5.8 flags per game for 44 yards.

For the year, the Cowboys still rank 6th in most penalties. But, under Garrett, they are 14th in the league.

No team wants any penalties, but under Phillips, this team was among the worst in football. Under Garrett, they are flagged as often as an average team in the NFL.

Game 15 vs Arizona:
151JamesPass Interference4DefFD
151FreeFalse Start5Off
152JenkinsPass InterferenceDeclinedDef
152ChoiceFalse Start5Off
153McCrayRun into Kicker5ST
153DavisFalse Start5Off
153BarberUnsportsmanlike Conduct15Off

Totals: 8 penalites, with 7 accepted for a total of 49 yards. Once again, the Cowboys had more penalties than their opponents, but this time by a slim 7 to 6 margin. The offense had 4 penalties, with 3 being of the maddening "false start" variety. Special Teams had 2 more, and the defense had 2 as well, with Mike Jenkins guilty of yet another pass interference.

Worst Offender: Nobody had a horrible day personally, but special note that Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and Bradie James were all called for their 1st penalties of the season. For Bradie in particular, I think it is pretty impressive for a player to play virtually every down of every game in the middle of the defense and to never be flagged for any violation.

Here are your season totals - Keep in mind, my totals include declined and offsetting penalties. For football reasons, they matter way more than just accepted penalties.

This is through Week 15:


PlayerTotalHoldPresnapIll BlockOther


PlayerTotalOffsideRoughPass InfOther

The Pass interference penalties are shocking to me. The Team has 12, so you would assume that the two starting corner backs have the most. Mike Jenkins has 6, representing half of the team's total. But, Terence Newman has 0. He hasn't been great this year, but he also hasn't had to tackle a guy to keep him from making a play. Just an interesting note.


PlayerTotalOffsideRoughIll BlockOther
L Williams10100


Based on many requests, I have constructed yet another chart below that will help you put some of these numbers into proper context. Below is the week by week penalties that were accepted for the Cowboys and their opponents in each game. This way, you can see how Wade did vs Garrett or how the Cowboys did against their opponents in a scenario that would account for different tones by different officiating crews throughout the season. Enjoy:

WeekDal PenYardsOpp PenYards
Wk 1-Was1281542
Wk 2-Chi650210
Wk 3-Hou849532
Wk 4-Ten12133440
Wk 5- Min1191545
Wk 6- NYG542646
Wk 7- Jac320636
Wk 8- GB540220
Wk 9- NYG560869
Wk 10- Det6391076
Wk 11- NO419430
Wk 12- IND535328
Wk 13- PHI540659
Wk 14- Was970325
Wk 15- Arz749643

HTML Tables

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 Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

Read all of Bob's posts at this link:

RB Snaps - Game 15 - Cardinals

Last week, I voiced my displeasure with the Cowboys' idea that they were going to go with a 3-Back set. We see on Saturday Night that for the most part, that was simply posturing as they pretty much stayed with Felix as the all-purpose guy, Choice as the 3rd Down guy with the occasional drive to spell Felix, and Barber returned to fill his role as a short yardage and clock eating specialist.

It was not a full 3-man rotation which is what had me all worked up. The work load was spread as you would want it, with Felix on the field for 37 plays, Tashard 27, and then Barber returned for the first time since Thanksgiving Day and he chipped in 12. To his credit, he had 2 huge runs out of these power sets and was able to administer some ground and pound.

That might be something to keep in mind in the offseason; If you are moving on without Barber - and I think that is the wise thing to do - who is able to be your short yardage/ground and pound guy? It doesn't seem to be in the skill set of either Felix or Tashard (although Tashard has more of a knack I think) to be able to go get those extremely tough yards.

Barber is no Emmitt, but, he does have the ability to break through the line on 3rd and 1 better than anyone else on the roster. They may have to get creative in the offseason to make sure this hole is filled, because a short yardage back is not glamourous, but you sure need one a few times a game.

TOTAL SNAPS FOR RBs VS Cardinals (76 plays)


HTML Tables


WK 1282813
Wk 231337
Wk 3301710
Wk 423511
Wk 524330
Wk 613420
Wk 722388
Wk 892713
Wk 915310
Wk 1025275
Wk 1122446
Wk 1203231
Wk 1303721
Wk 1402840
Wk 15123727
Total254 (26%)505 (52%)180 (18%)

HTML Tables

In case this is your first time to check these numbers, this is all about snaps on the field - not touches or run plays. This is merely intended to see who is on the field and who is on the sideline for the Cowboys offense.

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 Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

Read all of Bob's posts at this link:

Mavericks vs Raptors ADS 12/28/10

Toronto 84, Dallas 76 :

Without diving too deeply into this game, we see that Toronto did much better at attacking the rim than the Mavs did last night. Without Dirk, and with Tyson Chandler taking 1 shot, we see a very perimeter-driven game. Toronto has an ADS for the game that is significantly lower than the Mavs.

No real surprise, save for the final score.

Mavericks 12/28/10
Team Total
Raptors 12/28/10
Team Total

Thanks to Heath Huston for the data.

Targets - Game 15 - Cardinals

Any week where you give away 2 interceptions for Touchdowns, you face an extremely difficult mountain to climb to try to pull a victory out of the fire. They also suffered 5 sacks, so from a production standpoint, this was not going to be pretty. An overall passer rating of below 75 demonstrated the difficulty of a team playing with a 2nd and then a 3rd QB, and missing Dez Bryant.

What the Cowboys did get done was mostly done on 3rd and 4th Down. This has saved their bacon plenty this year, and that trend continued on Saturday.

Here are the numbers from Game #15:

Target Distribution: - Game 15 vs Arizona
NameTargetsCatchesYardsFD/TD/INTQB Rating

Now look at the make or break downs. Another big 4th Down TD to Witten and some very nice conversions in the 2nd Half from McGee.

3RD/4TH Down Targets - Week 15 vs Arizona
NameTargetsCatchesYardsFD/TD/INTQB Rating

Here are the season numbers for the receivers: It is amazing what sort of statistical comeback Witten has had in the last few months after a very slow start.

Target Distribution - Season To Date
NameTargetsCatchesYardsFD/TD/INTQB Rating

3RD/4TH Down Targets - Season To Date
NameTargetsCatchesYardsFD/TD/INTQB Rating

1 week to go before we close the books (some might say, thankfully) on 2010.


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 Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

Read all of Bob's posts at this link:

Sacks - Game 15 - Cardinals

As we head to the final week of the season, the Cowboys have now allowed the 12th fewest sacks in the NFL this season with 29 (152 yards). By the way, the NFL Average is 32 allowed (216 yards). But, there are weeks where the Cowboys look horrid, and I think you can stack this one next to the Tennessee performance and the night in Green Bay as the 3 worst pass protection weeks of 2010. This was very bad, with 4 of the 5 sacks coming in safe down and distance, with base personnel on the field. There is no way you should look this bad, but it does expose where the Cowboys truly are in this department.


Play #3 21 1/10/D24 -6 SACK by Campbell

What Happened: 3rd play of the game here, and we already see issues. This is "21" personnel on a 1st and 10. Nothing says run situation more than "21" on 1st and 10. From there, the Cowboys attempt some play action, and despite what Matt Millen says on the video, this is only a 4-man rush. Nevertheless, we see immediately where Marc Colombo is going to be all night. 93-Calais Campbell, a 6'8, 300 lb, monster out of Miami, sets up Colombo to the outside and then when Colombo leans, he gets him back to the inside. Colombo is so inside out here that he ends up with his back to the rusher like he is boxing out for a rebound in basketball. Campbell gets to Kitna and the ominous sign of things to come is apparent.


Play #12 21 2/10/D20 -6 SACK by Haggans

What Happened: This one is disappointing to see as an offensive coordinator. It is tough enough always decoding a blitz scheme from an opponent. But, sometimes, the protection is perfect, but you just lose a block. This particular play has the offensive line with a perfect pocket set up for Kitna. The FB stays in to pick up any edge LBs that are rushing and here comes 53-Clark Haggans. You would like to think Chris Gronkowski can handle a LB on the edge, but this was not a very good showing as Haggans makes quick work of him on the way to the QB. Gronkowski, of course, is known for the worst moment of pass protection this season on the play that broke Tony Romo's collarbone, so this is not helping his body of work any.


Play #23 12 1/10/D19 0 SACK by Dockett

What Happened: Colombo had some real rough moments on Saturday Night. This one is not one of them. On this play, Colombo will get charged for the sack, but the real issues happened on the opposite side of the line. The Cardinals show a blitz they like the run and bring it back later in the game against McGee. They rush 3 but angle those 3 in such a way to open up a nice lane for 2 more delayed blitzers. Those 2 get matched up against Kyle Kosier, the LG, and Felix Jones, the RB. Kitna sees it coming and begins stepping away from that area (and with good reason as Felix and Kosier both get about 50% of each guy). But, because he is flushed up in the pocket, Colombo's man, Darnell Dockett gets a vulture sack despite not being able to get around Colombo at all. Colombo technically conceded this sack, but his protection is just fine. He has no way of knowing that Kitna was going to move up 8 yards right away. Not a good night for 75, but this one is not his fault (technically).


Play #25 - 21 1/10/D31 -4 SACK by Dockett (2)

What Happened: Amazing. For an entire season, the Cowboys had not conceded more than 1 sack in a game from "under center". Then, in this game, largely because of RT, the team concedes 4 in the 1st Half! No wonder Jon Kitna had to leave the game. These are simple play ideas from good down and distance spots. These should not be risky protections. If it is 3rd and 15, expect the defense to pin the ears back. But this is 1st and 10. This is "21" personnel. Nothing fancy at all, and yet Darnell Dockett smells blood and the Cowboys are not giving Colombo help because they assume he can at least handle this spot. He can't be this bad. This particular play might be ground for a benching if you had any tackle on the roster that gave you even the slightest bit of confidence. But, there is no such thing this season. Dockett is good, but it shouldn't be this easy.

Play #67 - S11 3/9/D47 -11 SACK Schofield

What Happened: This might be the toughest one to evaluate because you could make the case that each tackle was beaten here. My ruling is that Colombo's man (53-Haggans) caused the sack, and Free's man (50-O'Brien Schofield) actually got the sack. They both are not helped by McGee's deep drop, and McGee is trying to give his receivers a chance to get to the sticks on 3rd and long, but this play just cannot work without better protection. A classic case of two guys meeting at the QB, and this was the only time in the 2nd half that McGee was sacked. He did hold the ball a bit long in some cases, but he seems to have a reasonable clock in his head and then some pretty nice escapability when the situation calls for that, too. I believe I have to split responsibility here, so Colombo and Free share this one. Again, subjectivity, but that is what I see.


Season To Date Sacks
The season totals for Sacks Allowed: Colombo 7, Free 5, Davis 4.5, Coverage 3.5, Kitna 3, Costa 2, Gurode 1, Jones 1, Witten 1, Kosier 1, Gronkowski 1.

Sack #Down/DistPersonnelSackerBlame

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
Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Decoding Garrett - Videos - Week 15 vs Cardinals

Video Breakdowns:

Let's look at 5 plays from the heartbreaker in Arizona. 2 runs and 3 passes from Stephen McGee. McGee is obviously a player of intrigue here as a relatively high pick in the 2009 Draft, and now there is some question of whether he projects to an eventual starter in this league. Saturday was our first look at him with live fire, and the results were quite impressive.

Thanks, Brian at DC for his help in getting the videos posted.

The Play:Play #47 "S12" Pass 1/10/D39 McGee to Austin, +19 FD

What Happened: The first thing I want to see from a new QB is his willingness to take a hit to make a play. McGee has never had to answer questions about toughness, but you do think that at the NFL level, the players hit harder and at some point he will have to show he is willing again to take a beating in the name of finding a man down the field. The blitz that teams are using more and more against the Cowboys continues to be the zone blitz. Drop a few guys who look like rushers, rush a few guys who look like cover men, and try to confuse the OL. This works again as the Cardinals rush 5 and the first wave goes wide leaving the middle wide open for the safety who rushes right down main street and hits McGee in the chin as he releases a strike right to his hot route with Miles Austin. A very impressive first salvo from McGee.

The Play:Play #52 "22" - 2/6/O43 Jones +7 FD

What Happened: Nothing special about this play except its rarity in 2010. This is "22" personnel and an overload right where they have both TEs and a FB all right. Then, it is a small departure from the pulling LG which they like to show. This time, it is everyone straight ahead. Hat on a hat as they say, and the Cowboys all win their blocks so Jones has a chance to get a 1st Down. Again, I have nothing extraordinary here save for the idea that everyone kept their end of the bargain here. When you go "22" and get a push 5 yards down the field, it is an impressive show of force and this play shows it can be done. But, it needs to happen more often.


The Play:Play # 56 "22" Run 1/10/O24 Barber +24 TD

What Happened: 4 plays later, we see how one play can set up another. In the play above, Play #52, the Cowboys overload right and run right with success. Now, they overload left. The Cardinals respond by placing bodies into the box, but all to the left side of the Cowboys line. So, look at Gurode in the presnap. Now look at all of the players on the Cardinals defense that are to his right. I count 1. So, when Davis, Colombo, and Gronkowski are there to block 1 Cardinal and then pick up the Safety, Barber is off to the races. Sometimes, your formation is there to set up your play. Sometimes, it is there to deceive the defense. This time, the Cardinals were cheating the overload and guessed way wrong. Touchdown and excessive celebration.

The Play:Play #59 "S11" - 3/8/D12 McGee to Hurd, +13 FD

What Happened: No zone blitz here from Arizona. This is straight blitz. 6 men coming and the Cowboys have to block it for a moment, but McGee has to diagnose and get the ball out. He also is facing 3rd and 8, in the shadow of his own goal posts. This is a vital play that must be played properly. It is 4th Quarter, but a 1 point game so you can make a throw, but you cannot throw a pick. For him to hit Hurd in stride, move the chains, and not freak out in the face of a full blitz is very, very impressive again. I need to see more from McGee, but the fact that he can come off the bench and deliver these two 3rd Down passes shows that he is prepared and comfortable about what he needs to do, and more importantly for me, has the poise to carry out his duty in the face of a blitz.


The Play:Play #75 "S11" -1/10/O37 McGee to Austin, +37 and TD

What Happened: Inside the 2 minute warning, the Cowboys are in the 2-minute offense facing a 1st and 10. The Cardinals bring the blitz again (6 men) and the Cowboys have 6 men in protection and do a real nice job ( a rarity of its own on this night). That leaves 4 Cowboys in pass routes versus 5 Cardinals in coverage. The outside receivers - Hurd and Williams run short routes to the sideline and take their men. Witten runs a route across the middle of the field and Austin runs a deep vertical to make the safety decide and then the QB takes his cue from the safety and selects the best option. McGee thinks he can get the ball to Austin, and he barely does. But, there is no barely pregnant. Either you make the throw or you don't, and McGee made a magical throw to a receiver who made a nice play for him. It is a real shame that this play won't get more historic significance because of Buehler's extra point and the defensive collapse, but nonetheless, McGee made a real great throw and he should get credit for it.


Tomorrow: Targets and Sacks for Week 15

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
Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

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Decoding Garrett - Data - Week 15 vs Cardinals

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-Pass19-14
2nd Down Avg Distance to Go8.79
2nd Down Run-Pass9-15
3rd Down Avg Distance to Go7.11
3rd Down Run-Pass5-13
3rd Down Conversions8-18, 44%

HTML Tables

Some very key throws on 3rd Down from both of the QBs for the Cowboys really helped save the day.

Drive Starters:

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:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Notice all of the passing production coming out of Shotgun.

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

Table Tutorial

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
Bob offers his exclusive analysis after games on

Read all of Bob's posts at this link

Mavericks vs Thunder ADS 12/27/10

Here is a new feature we want to get going here on a more regular basis. It is called ADS or average shot per distance where we try to show how well the Mavs are getting to the rim and keeping the opponents from the rim.

Thanks to some interns who are helping tabulate the numbers, we are going to try to keep game-by-game and season totals as we go. But this is the first one - Bob

Dallas 103, Oklahoma City 93

Mavericks 12/27/10
Team Total

Thunder 12/27/10
Team Total

Here are you ADS charts for the game last night, as you may notice a few things different. I chose to just remove the inactive and the players that had zero play time for size purpose. If a player has 0/0 such as Haywood this means that he had playing time, but took zero shots.
Let us know what you think, do you like the format of ADS, did you like having the inactives in the charts? If you have any thought please let us know so we can make your Dallas Mavericks expeience that much better.
Thanks to Heath Huston for gathering the data.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Morning After: Thoughts and Observations

Here are some more thoughts and observations following another frustrating loss in the desert.

* When you get a kicker in this league, the last thing you are worried about is his ability to hit a FG from 53 yards. It is a very nice trick to have, but it is not the most important characteristic to find. In my estimation, the most important characteristic that you need to find is consistency. Can you assume that anything inside 40 yards is automatic? Can you take for granted extra point attempts? At 4-7 from 30-39 yards, there is nobody who is less consistent amongst NFL kickers than David Buehler. As a kicker who has now missed 2 extra points this season, he is the only kicker in the NFL who has that distinction. So, 5 times this season, Buehler has missed from inside 40 yards. How does that measure up with the best kickers in the league? Well, Neil Rackers has missed 0 kicks inside 40 yards this season. Rob Bironas has missed 1. Phil Dawson has missed 0. Adam Vinatieri has missed 1. Kickers must be automatic inside 40 yards. They cannot give you indigestion even if the kick is from 31 yards. So, I admire Buehler's ability to nail kicks beyond 50 yards and his touchbacks. But, like a QB who can throw the ball 70 yards but cannot hit a 5 yard crossing route, I cannot go to war with a consistently inconsistent kicker. And that is what Dallas has had all season. Hard to believe he won the job virtually unopposed this season.

* At some point you almost feel sorry for Marion Barber. It is easy as fans for us to declare that a guy's career is in decline. But, as a player, you only have one career, and you are attempting to keep it alive as long as you can. We can just say "go get the next guy", but he is barely 27 years old and he did not think his career would be in doubt already. And it isn't. I suspect he will find a home next year. But, I guess I will need it explained to me why he came back from injury with 2 games to go and instantly reclaimed his spot in the depth chart where Tashard Choice had been performing rather well. And then, after a few impressive moments, he loses his emotional leash and costs the team a 15-yard penalty with an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was almost enough to cancel out the good. I just wish the veterans on this team had just a bit more composure when they needed it.

* No player looks less like he did in 2009 than Marc Colombo. Pre injury, he was as solid as a rock last year. But, they have either got to get him right in the offseason or they have to replace him. Once again, against quick players on that right side, Colombo struggled mightily on Saturday. In fact, the Cardinals fed him a pretty strong diet of Darnell Dockett, who is not a huge sack guy, but one of the better interior linemen in the league. He was kicked out to the edge to face Colombo and doubled his sack total for 2010 to 4 sacks, after having just 2 the entire season. Colombo on an island is just not capable to play out there without help and it is becoming a problem that is not improving. There are times when you can hide a guard who is having major issues, but you cannot hide a tackle. And I find it extremely odd that we thought it would be Doug Free who would need hiding this year.

* Am I the only person who is amazed that the Arizona Cardinals have a metal ring around the floor of their stadium which instantly makes any player fall like they are Bambi on ice? Isn't something about building a facility that we assume is a given is the attempt to minimize bodily harm? Marion Barber twice had his feet fly out from underneath him and I have to think it is rather possible that his body suffered as much there as it did in any portion of the game. That seems like extremely poor design to have a metal ring that cannot be covered while these players fly around the playing surface.

* I know this has been a disappointing season, but the 2 or 3 guys who email me about DeMarcus Ware have got to stop . The premise of their emails appear to be that Ware doesn't get big sacks for this team. It seems like the Alex Rodriguez argument when he played in Texas that he put up huge numbers, but none of them mattered. I find this argument silly when it comes to Ware, who I think has a few faults, but is as close a complete player on this defense that the Cowboys have had in a generation. So, are all of his sacks at unimportant times? Let's see: Ware has 12.5 sacks this season. That ties him for 2nd in the NFL, behind Cameron Wake's 14. He is tied with Clay Matthews and Jason Babin in 2nd place. Now, the splits. Ware has 5 sacks when the Cowboys are losing. 2 when they are tied, and 5.5 when the Cowboys are leading. He has 3 sacks in the 1st Quarter, 4 in the 2nd Quarter, 2 in the 3rd Quarter, and 3.5 in the 4th quarter. He has 6.5 sacks at home, and 6 on the road. And his sack on Saturday night was on the games final drive where he was trying to put the game away and forced the Cardinals to convert a 4th and 15. So, stop the nonsense. His sacks are in every situation and at every portion of the game. Ware is not the problem here.

* And speaking of 4th and 15, that one really smarts. I need to speak to some people on the staff before I give a full breakdown of this play, but my first reaction was that Larry Fitzgerald is a pretty good receiver which you might want to cover. Then, my second reaction was that Keith Brooking is about the last guy from my Linebacker group that I want in pass coverage on a 1-play scenario with a win on the line. Brooking was the first guy on the scene when Fitzgerald caught the ball and without knowing the availability of my nickel package, both of those items and then the complete and total lack of a pass rush doomed the Cowboys, and at that point you knew things were not looking good to get the win. It seemed to be a matter of time after that conversion.

* Bryan McCann appears to be a risk vs reward guy. We have marveled at his big plays from a month back, and I absolutely love his electric burst. But, doesn't he look like he holds the ball without a whole lot of security? His ability is awesome, but I do wonder about all of the near-disaster plays that we have seen recently (and the fumble that was charged to him in Green Bay and returned for a Touchdown). I love his game, I would just prefer that he puts that ball away a little better.

* Tomorrow, I want to break down Stephen McGee's play on video. But, a few thoughts on his pro debut. I think the Cowboys have to be delighted by a few things from his game. He does appear to be rather composed and prepared for a guy who had never stepped on the field before. He was willing to stand in and take a massive hit to make a play. He certainly showed us when he was at Texas A&M that he is tremendously tough and courageous. And, he appears to have strong leadership ability. Again, it was only 1 half of football, and we should all remember the unmitigated disaster that Tony Romo's 1st half of football looked like, but, if we can read meaning into that, we should be encouraged. His ability to march the team down the field with the game on the line was quite an accomplishment in a player's debut. Well done.

One more week and one more game. And then, 2010 can be put out of its misery. I find no need to point out what happened the last time the Cowboys finished a season in Philadelphia. But, let's just say an improvement shouldn't be too difficult.

The Morning After: Cardinals 27, Cowboys 26

I can certainly take or leave the NFL Network's game presentation, and to be completely honest, I take most of what Matt Millen says with a grain of salt. But, he did say something during the Cardinals game that struck me as nothing short of profound as the Cowboys lost their 10th game of the season;

He quoted his college coach, the legendary Joe Paterno, by saying, "he used to say that if we would pay attention to the little details, the big details will take care of themselves".

Wow. If only he was addressing the Dallas Cowboys at training camp in 2010.

The little details....Let's see here...

* Miles Austin slips coming out of his break. Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie does not, Interception is returned for a Touchdown and the Cowboys are behind early.

* Roy Williams senses a linebacker out of the corner of his eye, loses focus on the football, the ball bounces off of his shoulder, and the Cowboys have another simple pass returned for another Touchdown.

* Marion Barber, so excited to be a part of an explosive run that turned into an impressive Touchdown, loses his mind and takes off his helmet on the field of play - thus deflating a huge Touchdown with an unnecessary mistake.

* David Buehler shows just how consistently inconsistent he really is by ruining his strong kicking night by missing an extra point at exactly the wrong time - thus deflating a huge Touchdown with an unnecessary mistake.

* Orlando Scandrick misses John Skelton by a split second on a corner blitz and Skelton hooks up with the equally anonymous Max Komar to set up Jay Feely for the winning FG - thus proving that the defense cannot get a stop when it matters most.

How do you out-gain your opponent by 115 yards, out possess them by 17 minutes, and out snap them by 29 plays and lose?

The truth can be found in the little details.

In 2010, the little details have cancelled out a team that will once again have some very impressive statistics that will all combine to signify exactly nothing.

So, as we see Jerry Jones in the locker-room again, claiming to be "mad as hell", and appearing to have steam coming out of his ears, we can only wonder if it occurs to him the relation between attention to detail and the way the Cowboys prepare for their seasons. I know I will be considering all of this next time we hear that the Cowboys are going to have the odd "traveling training camp" so that the Cowboys can maximize their marketing and sponsorship opportunities all over the map.

Training Camp matters. Practice matters. Accountability matters. Discipline matters. All of the things that Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, and yes, Bill Parcells believed matter, surely prove that they do.

I would never suggest that those men always got everything right, but as we continue to audition Jason Garrett, I cannot help but watch this team and wonder if they have the type of "Football IQ" that is required for success in the NFL. Garrett, obviously thought that Jones and Wade Phillips were nuts not to demand more physical practices because the second he was named coach, he changed that. You can bet your bottom dollar that if he gets the chance, he will dramatically change training camp.

Of course, if you believe what you hear, one of the main reasons training camp was as "non-physical" as anyone can ever remember was because Dez Bryant was injured in camp and Jerry freaked out about losing players in Late July/Early August and reprimanded the coaches for taking too many risks.

And that led to what became a training camp that had 3 all-pads, all-contact practices in the entire preseason. 3! About the same number Landry and Johnson would have on Monday and Tuesday of Week 1 of their camps.

Now, the 2010 Cowboys have more excessive celebration penalties that relevant Touchdowns. They are among the league leaders in penalties. They have veterans who bail out on plays because they are scared to get hit. They have a defense that quit for about 3 games this season. And they have that same defense that is back to trying, but they concede crucial 4th Quarter drives on a routine basis.

Isn't there a correlation? Don't we see the relation between relaxed accountability, discipline, preparation in the organization this summer and some of the Looney Tunes Football we have seen this season?

And now, Jerry is "mad as hell"? Forgive me, but I don't really want to hear it from him. Words don't matter to me anymore from the man who is responsible for a team that is guilty of so many fundamental issues.

I need actions. If it was my mistake to have such a silly non-competition for the kicker position, I believe I wouldn't waste time telling us how mad you are. I might do something about it. What exactly did you think was going to happen when you named Buehler the kicker without being opposed? Same goes for a defense that looks like physical football wears it down late in games. Same for an offensive line that never left the starting blocks when it comes to winning its individual battles at the point of attack.

In fact, next time I have the choice between an unorthodox training camp agenda that borders on more marketing and less football, I might put in a tape of the Redskins, Bears, Titans, Jaguars, Packers, or Cardinals games from the 2010 season.

That should cure you.

The big details have never been a problem in Dallas. We know all about the 5 Lombardi Trophies and the finest Stadium that money can buy. We have been told about the Forbes value and the largest fan base this side of Manchester United.

That is all very impressive.

But, what about the problems with all of the false starts? Why is it so difficult to get a pass rush on crucial downs? And how come it is impossible for a veteran to lose his spot in the lineup no matter how bad he is? (Question: name the last veteran starter to lose his job due to poor performance - Besides Nick Folk last year, I think it might be Drew Bledsoe, 2006, Bill Parcells).

This is the type of embarrassing loss that might get Jerry to 2nd guess his Jason Garrett ideas. I think it is silly for us to assume what is going through his head right now. He owes it to himself and to the franchise to pursue any and all ideas and hire the coach who he believes can fix the damage that has been done.

But, make no mistake. Plenty of damage has been done to the way this team has done business. I admire Garrett trying to change the culture during the season, but that is like trying to turn an ocean liner around in a canal. Not easily done.

On the surface, the Cowboys look like they have plenty of good elements on paper. But, we learned again last night in Arizona, that the devil is in the little details with this team.

And until they get those little details squared away, we are going to see more inexcusable losses like the one we saw last night.