Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dallas Offensive Analysis vs. Washington 9.15.10

After the Redskins loss, the main gripes with the Cowboys for fans was their playcalling by Jason Garrett and their lack of points (7) scored despite having a solid number of total yards gained (377).

And obviously, there was this playcall that was a major factor in their defeat.

While that call was bad enough, the main gripes were that the Cowboys did not run the ball enough and the playcalling was 'predictable.'

Here's the article going over some personnel stats from Bob Sturm's blog.

Dallas did wind up throwing the ball 68% of the time overall. But, that doesn't always mean it was the wrong thing to do.

So first we need to ask 'was it effective?'

I say no because Dallas was running the ball effectively at 4.7 yards a carry while passing the ball at 6.0 yards per pass attempt, which is well below Romo's career avg. of yppa (8.1). That's a 26% decrease in yards per pass attempt for Romo. Meanwhile, last season the team averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which is usually considered excellent and they were practically running at the same clip in this game.

So the team continued to pass even though it was far less effective than it normally is and the run was working fine statistically.

The other alarming statistic here is that Dallas threw the ball 73% of the time when the score was within 6 points. And the game was within 6 points for roughly 47 minutes (78% of the the game).

Thus, I conclude that the team did pass the ball too much given that they were within a reasonable deficit for the entire game (10 point is the most they were down) and were within 1 score for roughly 3/4's of the game. Furthermore, the passing game wasn't as effective as it typically is for Romo while the running game was very strong.


Dallas ran out of the shotgun formation on 47% of the offensive downs it played. They only ran the ball from the shotgun twice. This propensity to pass it almost every time should have signaled to the Redskins defense that when the Cowboys were going into the shotgun, they were going to throw the ball.

Again, we need to figure out if it was effective and whether or not it was a passing down.

Romo only threw for 5.5 yards per pass attempt out of the shotgun. Again, well below his average.

While I do not have the time to go back to the game and figure out what shotgun downs were 'passing situations', let's just take out every shotgun play that happened on 3rd and 4th down for the sake of simplicity.

Still, that leaves the Cowboys with using the shotgun, a formation that Washington had to know we were only going to throw the ball from, 21 times on either 1st or 2nd down.

Dallas had 57 plays on 1st or 2nd down.

21 shotgun plays / 57 total plays on 1st or 2nd down = 37% of plays on 1st or 2nd down used the shotgun formation.

So, on 37% of 1st or 2nd downs, we were using a very predictable formation that would allow the Redskins to pin the Cowboys' ears back and really go after Romo (which would make it easier to get holding penalties against backup Right Tackle Alex Barron)

It would be interesting to see what the numbers look like for the most shotgun happy team in the league, the New England Patriots.

Granted though, there are some big differences between the two clubs, IMO:

1. I believe that Brady operates much better from the shotgun than from under center. I think Romo is pretty much the same QB from either formation.

2. The Cowboys have a much more effective running game and better tight ends.

3. I believe the Patriots run much more out of the shotgun.


- Lower the amount of shotgun formations on 1st and 2nd down.


- Run the ball more from the shotgun

I believe that had the Cowboys stuck to a more balanced offensive gameplan from under center, in the end the offense would have been more effective and scored more points. But because they used the shotgun so much and were only throwing the ball from the shotgun, the balance was gone and it became less of a guessing game for the Redskins defense.

Perhaps if Dallas ran the ball 30% of the time from the shotgun that may have helped. So instead of not running out of the shotgun on 1st and 2nd down, perhaps they could have ran the ball 6 times and thrown it 15 times out of the shotgun, just enough to keep the Redskins defense honest.

Or they need to cut down their shotgun formations all together and maybe save them for 1st or 2nd and long situations after a penalty.


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