Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Despite doomed 2019, here's why Cowboy's historic offense provides hope for the future

 Posted: Dec. 31, 2019

"The 2019 Dallas Cowboys season was an unmitigated failure. We now know this all too well. We just don’t know exactly why. We have attempted to peel back the onion enough to give everyone theories, but honestly, some are flat-out ridiculous. Others hold some water, but not all of them. This is a complex sport, and when you try to perform an autopsy on the death of a talented and promising group of players, you can also get caught chasing your tail in search of the answers."

Athletic link: https://theathletic.com/1499568/2019/12/31/despite-doomed-2019-heres-why-cowboys-historic-offense-provides-hope-for-the-future/

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Morning After: Cowboys Fade to Black in 2019. It's Time for a New Script.


Cowboys win finale, 47 - 16 over WAS

Final record: 8-8 (2nd in NFC East)

Fun (depressing) stats noted in this piece:

  • Dallas has not put back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1996

  • Back-to-back playoff berths: 1998 - 1999 and 2006 - 2007; both cases, lost first playoff game

  • Garrett (pre-firing) presided over nine full seasons as Cowboys head coach and missed the playoffs six times - including in his first, second, and third year

Jerry Jones quote following season-finale:

I always start [with myself]. When you work for yourself, you have to evaluate and you have to change what you’re doing. You don’t fire yourself. That’s an impossibility. You look at what you can do better and you go do it better it you can.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Decoding Kellen Moore (Week 16): A Performance in Philadelphia Makes You Question Almost Everything


Outcome: Eagles 17, Cowboys 9

Eagles move to 8-7

Cowboys move to 7-8

Sticking points: 

Article takes an in-depth look at the Cowboy’s first-down offense from the 2019 season. No surprise, but the Cowboys lost each game that their first-down offense registered below four yards per play. 

Cowboys offense vs. PHI (Wk16): Gained only 10 yards passing and one first down when blitzed by Eagles...three-of-fourteen on third downs...Ran 19 plays on first down and only “succeeded” (four yards or more) 47.4 percent of the time… Gained only 96 yards on first down...Ran 41 plays out of S-11 personnel.

“Again, you cannot have one of your worst first-down days and one of your worst third-down days at the same time. If you do, you will get beat, and it won’t be particularly pretty.” 

Moment of the game - Cowboys face a 4th-and-8, fail to call a timeout to get Cooper and Cobb on the field with 1:21 remaining in the game. Receivers are Gallup and Austin. Ball underthrown to Gallup, no first down conversion, game over. 

This could be a great game to revisit if, during Mike McCarthy’s tenure, certain playcalling situations arise that he handles differently than Garrett did/would have. 

There were also several WR drops and QB overthrows in this game.

Stat lines of note:

Dak Prescott: 25/44, 265 yards, 0 passing touchdowns, 1 carry, 7 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns

Ezekiel Elliott: 13 rushes/46 yards (3.6 avg), 0 rushing touchdowns, 7 receptions, 37 yards receiving 

Michael Gallup: 5/98, 0 receiving touchdowns

Randall Cobb: 5/73, 0 receiving touchdowns

Amari Cooper: 4/24, 0 receiving touchdowns

Kai Forbath: 3/3, 49 long

This article also takes a look at Dak’s play-action passing from the season + Week 16:

Vs. PHI: 4/6, 40 yards passing, 0 passing touchdowns, 85.4 rating

Best week out of play-action: Week 1 vs. NYG - 14/15, 207 yards, 158.3 passer rating, 3 passing touchdowns

Worst week out of play-action: Week 5 vs. GB - 4/8, 58 yards, 34.4 passer rating, 2 interceptions  

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Morning After: History Repeats Itself for Cowboys, With a Glimmer of Hope - The End is Near

 The Morning After: History Repeats Itself for Cowboys, With a Glimmer of Hope - The End is Near



This was a trend for the Cowboys during the Garrett era: Big-time stakes late in season, only to come up short.

2011 - Loss to NYG, 31-14 - Eliminated from playoffs with loss

2012 - Loss to WAS, 28-18 - Eliminated from playoffs with loss 

2013 - Loss to PHI, 24-22 - Eliminated from playoffs with loss

2019 - Loss to PHI, 10-6 - Puts PHI in first place with 1 game to play; would be eliminated following week

Eagles win despite a multitude of injuries

Lane Johnson did not suit up

Nelson Agoholor did not suit up

Alshon Jeffrey did not suit up

Jalen Mills injured leg during game

Fletcher Cox injured arm during game

Zach Ertz played with hurt ribs

Cowboys had 11 possessions and punted six times

Three field goals, Tony Pollard fumble made up the other four possessions 

Prescott does not answer the bell (even though he played hurt)

Too many overthrown balls - missed Tavon Austin AND Michael Gallup on deep balls that would have definitely been touchdowns

Play of the game: 4th and 8, PHI 23 yard line.. No Cooper, no Cobb on the field, Garrett does not take a timeout to get them into the game. Play results in an underthrown ball, first down is not achieved, ball goes over to PHI on downs and game (and season) is over. 

“This franchise does not have the coach it deserves. It’s time for the Cowboys to move on from Jason Garrett; that is a given. But I feel like there’s a bigger priority at play. Jerry Jones has to be willing to step aside and cede control of the franchise to someone in the Jimmy Johnson/Bill Parcells mold who would take the job only as long as he had full control over the football decisions and the owner stayed out of his way. If you plan on keeping everything the same as a franchise, then I suppose you might as well stay with Jason Garrett. In my estimation, it isn’t the head coach that is the actual issue here. He is just a symptom of the bigger disease, one that goes back a few decades.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Richard Report: How Cowboys brought unexpected pressure to rattle Goff and dominate the Rams

Link: https://theathletic.com/1470615/2019/12/18/the-richard-report-how-cowboys-brought-unexpected-pressure-to-rattle-goff-and-dominate-rams/

Outcome: Cowboys (7-7) defeat Rams, 44-21 

Dallas defense dominated the Rams in Week 15:

  • Rams punted five times, turnover on downs once, intersection once

  • One first half touchdown, other two were in garbage time

  • Only three drives with a net yardage of over 50, and two of them were the fourth quarter garbage time drives

  • Season-high 13 pressure plays on blitzes by Dallas defense

  • Only allowed two explosive plays

  • Rams offense gained only 4.3 yards per attempt

Jared Goff was bad:

  • Two touchdowns, one INT, sacked twice

  • 284 yard, 64.7 pass completion, 84.1 QBR

  • Missed a TON of throws

Splash plays!

Antwaun Woods - 3

Chidobe Awuzie - 2

Jourdan Lewis - 2

Demarcus Lawrence - 2

Justin March - 2

Bright spot for Rams was Tyler Higbee, who caught 12 balls for 111 yards.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Decoding Kellen Moore: Cowboys flip Rams’ script against them in a thoroughly dominant afternoon

Link: https://theathletic.com/1467451/2019/12/17/decoding-kellen-moore-cowboys-produce/

Outcome: Cowboys 44, Rams 21

Running game differential: Cowboys - 263, Rams - 22 (+241)

(Cowboys of 1980 dominated Rams with a +246 rush uard differential)

Running Game Came to Play:

Zeke - 24 carries, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns; three receptions, 43 yards

Pollard - 12 carries, 131 yards, 1 touchdown

Moore keeps Rams defense spinning:

  • Did not feed Zeke on first down until NINTH first down

  • Zeke featured as a ”lead blocker” on several occasions with Poillard receiving the carry

  • Play-action was big - led to Tavon Austin’s long touchdown catch (as did Dak’s ability to escape Fowler in the backfield)

  • Moore used “man beater” routes to get WR an advantage on Jalen Ramsey and Yaylor Rapp, who play man almost exclusively 

Tony Pollard was really good today!

  • Used his burst well today; really adept at seeing the hole and speeding through

  • Best run of his career in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-1. Turned a lost play into a 33-yard gain.

  • Garbage time, but a great hit on the hole on 2nd-and-8

Fun stats are fun:

  • 3 for 3 in the red zone

  • 7 for 13 on 3rd down

  • 7 yards per play

  • 25 first downs

  • 36 minutes TOP

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Morning After: Cowboys pummel old nemesis, suggesting they have further plans for 2019 season

Link: https://theathletic.com/1464066/2019/12/16/the-morning-after-cowboys-pummel-old-nemesis-suggesting-they-have-further-plans-for-2019-season/

This game was surely one they wanted to win, but all eyes were on Philadelphia in Week 16 to basically determine the season’s outcome.

Not a great start: 

  • Dak and Jason Garrett botch the coin flip; Walt Anderson misheard, maybe?

  • Kai Forbath kick out of bounds

But weirdly, the Cowboys dominated with a terrible day from their WR:

  • 19 yards for Cooper

  • 6 yards for Gallup

  • -3 yards for Cobb

Good showing by defense after listless performance previous week

  • Solid game from Sean Lee, who sealed the game with an interception in the fourth quarter

Dallas wins sixth game of the year with 400 yards of offense, more than 30 points and a double-digit win margin. No team in Cowboys history has checked those boxes this many times.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Riffing: Previewing Cowboys-Rams; Dak’s slump; how good is the Dallas O-line, really?

Link: https://theathletic.com/1456797/2019/12/13/friday-riffing-previewing-cowboys-rams-daks-slump-how-good-is-the-dallas-o-line-really/

First time teams have seen each other since 2018 Divisional Playoff game:

  • Dallas scored a touchdown on its opening drive and then nothing for several drives

  • Dallas then fell behind 23-7 by the late stages of the third quarter

  • Dallas’ offense could not drive the football because of consistent third-down problems (1-10)

  • Dallas’ defense could not generate sacks or takeaways often enough (o-o)

  • Dallas could not flip field position until it was too late

  • Dallas could not generate offensive production until it was too late

Some quick hits on the Rams:

  • Since Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp entered the starting lineup in Week 7, Rams are first in sacks (30) and second in PPG allowed (15.4). If not for the Monday night meltdown vs. the Lamar Jackson juggernaut, it would be 10.5 PPG. Is this the best defense of the Aaron Donald era?

  • Blitzing is way up since Week 6. Since making the huge changes at cornerback, it is clear that the Rams are playing a more aggressive style of defense and Wade has unleashed far greater pressure than we have seen in Los Angeles. Fowler, Matthews, Ebukan and, of course, Donald are now being aided with LB/DB pressure. They weren’t blitzing early in the year, but that has changed quite a bit.

Bob picked Rams to win, 28-20

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Richard Report: Cowboys’ defensive effort shows ominous signs in surrender to Chicago

Link: https://theathletic.com/1451640/2019/12/11/the-richard-report-cowboys-defensive-effort-shows-ominous-signs-of-surrender-in-chicago/

Week 13 vs. Bears

Outcome: Bears 31, Cowboys 24

Date published: Dec. 11, 2019

Quote from Bill Belichick outlining the importance of tackling on defense over any other skill. In this game against the Bears, the Cowboys missed 19 tackles. 

Very concerning to see DAL play this way following an equally horrible showing last week against BUF (Thanksgiving).

Bears Explosive Plays: 6

Cowboys missed-tackle leaders following CHI game:

LVE: 13 missed (out of 72)

Sean Lee: 12 missed (out of 62)

Jaylon: 11 missed (out of 120)

Chidobe: 10 missed (out of 65

CHI Offense: 

32:18 TOP

24 first downs

7-12 on third down

3-5 in RZ

DAL defense:

2 sacks

2 takeaways

15 splash plays

Embattled Mitch Trubisky has his best game of the season

244 yard, 3 TD passes

10 carries, 63 yards, 1 rushing TD


Jaylon - 5

Darian Thomas, Joe Thomas, Robert Quinn - 2

Jourdan Lewis - INT

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Decoding Kellen Moore: The Cowboys’ slump continues as their season slips further away

Link: https://theathletic.com/1447104/2019/12/10/decoding-kellen-moore-the-cowboys-slump-continues-as-their-season-slips-further-away/ 

Outcome: Chicago 31, Dallas 24 (6-7)

Third straight game with “empty calories” - more than 1,150 yards combined against NE, BUF, CHI - all losses

  • Starting field position is still really bad: ranked last in NFL with average start at 25.2 yard line

  • Opponent averages getting ball around the 40

Dak slump

  • 1st through 3rd quarter (non garbage time) stats have been terrible in last three games… 68.3 passer rating

  • 8-of-23 on passes outside the numbers vs. CHI

0-for-9 on third down on drive’s 2 through 10

Attempted only 3 play action plays

FIRST DRIVE OF GAME WAS AWESOME: 17 plays and ended in a touchdown!

...Chicago scores, does the double-up at halftime, and the first time Dallas gets the ball in the third quarter, it’s 24-7, Bears

Final offensive stats:

  • 22 first downs

  • 27:42 TOP

  • 6-15 on third down

  • 3-4 RZ

  • Zeke: 6-109-2 rushing TD

  • Amari: 6-83-1 receiving TD

  • Jarwin: 6-50

Friday, December 06, 2019

The Morning After: Cowboys hit rock bottom in Chicago, and Jerry Jones digs his heels in again

 Link: https://theathletic.com/1438810/2019/12/06/the-morning-after-cowboys-hit-rock-bottom-in-chicago-and-jerry-jones-digs-his-heels-in-again/

Week 14 vs Bears

This game seems like the one you can point to and say “the Cowboys gave up on Garrett.” Eerily similar to the game in 2010 which turned out to be Wade’s last one in Dallas.

Vs. CHI, DAL had five straight offensive possessions that resulted in: 3-out, 3-out, missed FG, 3-out, 3-out. At same time: CHI went TD, FG, TD, TD

Jerry wants to stay the course and NOT make a coaching change because that will terminate the 2019 season - because, technically, the Cowboys are still in first place at this time. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Cowboys Pregame Riffing: What to expect in a game both Dallas and Chicago desperately need

 Link: https://theathletic.com/1434633/2019/12/05/cowboys-pregame-riffing-what-to-expect-in-a-game-both-dallas-and-chicago-desperately-need/

Week 14 vs. Bears

Entering this game, the Cowboys have won three of nine - but are still in first place, and can go a long way to clinch the division with the win tonight.

Cowboys have been very successful with their Thanksgiving - next game routine in the past five years

No Connor Williams in this game, Tyron Smith banged up and not playing well

Trubisky has been Trubisky this year, but Matt Nagy has to be under a bit of pressure - was brought here to help the offense and it has struggled all season

Cowboys entered this game with only FOUR interceptions - last in the league

Matchup to Watch: Jourdan Lewis vs. Anthony Miller

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Bears 24

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The Richard Report: Cowboys overwhelmed by Josh Allen’s breakout and Cole BEasley’s revenge game

Link: https://theathletic.com/1428998/2019/12/04/the-richard-report-cowboys-overwhelmed-by-josh-allens-breakout-and-cole-beasleys-revenge-game/

Wk 13 vs. Bills

Date published: Dec. 4, 2019

Josh Allen’s breakout game for BUF

  • 120.7 passer rating

  • 19-24, 231 yards passing, 1 TD

  • 15 yard rushing TD in the third quarter

  • 4 explosive plays by himself

Cole Beasley’s breakout game for BUF

  • 6 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD

  • 3 receptions of 25 yards or more

DAL defense has now gone four straight games without a takeaway for the first time since 2015. 225 defensive snaps without a defensive turnover. Currently sit at 26th in takeaways.

BUF went 6-14 on third down and 1-2 in the RZ

  • Scored on six consecutive drives

DAL did have 22 splash plays, but they were “empty”

4 - Sean Lee

3 - Jourdan Lewis

2 - Darian Thompson

DeMarcus Lawrence played a really solid game, even though he has not been playing at his 2017 or 2018 level.

BUF stats

Josh Allen, 19-24, 231 passing yards, 1 TD

John Brown, 1-1, 28 yard passing TD

Devin Singletary, 14-63 rushing

Allen, 10-43 rushing, 1 TD

Cole Beasley, 6-110 receiving, 1 TD

Singletary, 3-38 receiving, 1 TD

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Decoding Kellen Moore: How the Cowboys got in their own way (again) and lost (another) winnable game

Link: https://theathletic.com/1428998/2019/12/04/the-richard-report-cowboys-overwhelmed-by-josh-allens-breakout-and-cole-beasleys-revenge-game/

Week 13 vs. Bills

Date published: Dec. 3, 2019

The Cowboys, miraculously, scored only 15 points on 426 yards.

Following this game, DAL has the No. 1 offense in the NFL/yardage, but No. 8 offense in NFL/scoring.

In the past ten years, DAL is 4-32 when they are -2 or worse in the turnover battle, like they were against BUF.

Take a look at this fun offensive drive chart:

Touchdown - Punt - Punt - INT - Fumble - Missed FG - Missed FG - Downs - Downs- Touchdown

  • One cowardly punt from the Buffalo 43-yard-line on Drive No. 2

  • An interception on Drive No. 4

  • A strip-sack fumble on Drive No. 5

  • A missed field goal on Drives No. 6 and 7

  • A failed fourth down on Drives No. 8 and 9

Following this game, the Cowboys fall to 32nd in starting field position.

  • 7 for 13 on third down

  • 2-4 on RZ

  • Two giveaways

Dak: 32-49, 355 yards, 2 TD passing, 1 INT

Good numbers, but this was his second rough outing in a row.

Connor Williams gets hurt, Sua-Filo replaces him. Not exactly because of Sua-Filo, but the Cowboys O line began to get dominated by BUF starting in the second quarter.

DAL tried using Zeke more as the game went on - especially after the games first touchdown where he looked really good.