Found October 24, 2012 on Fox Sports Southwest:
It is difficult to find trends of success through 6 games from this Cowboys' offense. In week 1, they did many things very well and looked balanced and competent. Since then, the Garrett-Romo offense has been anything but consistent, with a horrendous performance in Seattle, near absence against Tampa Bay, a turnover machine versus Chicago, and then a power-running team against Baltimore. In their 6th game at Carolina, they did show that they felt the Baltimore performance might have shown them their identity. After running the ball over 40 times for over 200 yards against the Ravens, the Cowboys returned to that game plan against the Panthers, despite having no DeMarco Murray as the talisman. They ran 17 of 27 snaps on 1st Down to set the tone. They ran 9 more times on 2nd down in 23 opportunities. Both percentages of 1st and 2nd down runs are setting up 3rd down distances that are quite reasonable and manageable. Anytime your 3rd Down yards to go sit below 6 yards, you will take that every-time as a coach. And the Cowboys have done that now 6 times under Garrett's command as a head coach - a span of 30 games. Despite this efficiency and better balance, the Cowboys had an issue accumulating yardage again, as they barely eclipsed 300 yards of total offense. This is the 3rd time this season that the Cowboys have played a game (Sea, TB) where the offense just couldn't find the amount of production that should be available. So, why is this happening? What have we learned from the first 6 games of data as it relates to the Cowboys offensive issues? Well, we talked on Monday about Red Zone inefficiency. It is very true and disconcerting that when you drive the ball down the field that you must cash in for 7 points. But, if that was the only issue, then we this team would be like other Cowboys' seasons, where they are getting 400 yards per game and just can't finish drives. That is an issue in 2012 - finishing drives with TDs - but that is not what we are discussing here. What I am seeing as troublesome and dumbfounding is this: The Cowboys offense is not finding explosive plays often enough right now. We are now at a point where 16 of the 32 teams have had bye weeks, so numbers are normalizing and samples will be completely consistent here in a few more weeks. But, as it stands, would you believe that the Cowboys sit 28th in the NFL in plays of over 20 yards? With only 20 such plays (3 runs17 passes), the Cowboys sit far below a team like the Giants who in 1 more game have 15 more plays of 20 yards or more. Last season, the Cowboys achieved 69 explosives, which was good - not great, but did tie them for 10th place in the league and were over the league average of 64. This year, they are on pace for 53. 53! That number is one that will often get you a Top 5 pick in the draft because your season has netted about 5 wins. Now, back to Charlotte, where the Cowboys lost the explosive battle with the Panthers, 6-2. The only 2 big plays for the Cowboys were on back-to-back snaps in the 3rd Quarter where Tony Romo found Miles Austin for 36 yards on 3rd and long, then on the very next play found him for a 26 yard Touchdown pass. It was so beautiful, and a demonstration of the power and quickness that is available for this offense. It also was on display on opening night against the Giants, when the Cowboys opened the season with 5 explosives. Since then, the faucet has trickled to almost nothing when it comes to big chunks of yardage. Miles Austin is the player that is most explosive on this offense. It might make sense when we consider his primary routes often seem deeper than Dez Bryant's, but I guess I was not aware until computing these numbers that Austin had 7 explosive plays, while nobody else on the team had more than 3. Austin has 7, Witten, Murray, and Bryant all have 3 big plays, and Felix Jones and Kevin Ogletree each have 2. Ogletree's both happened in the first 2 games and he has not really been heard from since. Juxtaposed against all of this are numbers where the Cowboys sacks allowed are way down this year. In fact, in terms of sacks allowed (9) and sacks allowed per pass play (3.8), you have evidence that the Cowboys are one of the best teams in the NFL at protecting the passer. How can this be? We know that the Cowboys often have a very difficult time protecting Romo. How can we explain this? And, are these numbers related? I would like to write more about this down the road, but I believe that sacks and sacks allowed are some of the most misleading statistics in football. Yes, they are important and yes, they can mean something, but they don't always. If you told a coach that the objective of the game is to not get your QB hit, we could easily set up a game plan that would avoid that. Now, it won't score many points nor accumulate many yards or a win, most likely, but our QB will never get touched because we are going to throw quick passes that make pass protection simple. Sacks allowed are not equally judged. One team may have nothing but plays that take 3-4 seconds. Another team gets the ball out quicker than June Jones does at SMU with throws at or behind the line of scrimmage much of the time. The first team might give up 3 sacks, but they are taking 8 shots for explosives. The second team gave up no sacks, but never stressed the safeties all day. Which team has a better offensive line? Leading us back to the Cowboys.... Are they, since Tampa Bay and Chicago, being far more careful with pass protection and pounding the ball more? Running is good with benefits everywhere. But, we must be careful that we don't take the explosive plays out of the offense by protecting the line from having to pass protect. Tennessee should not have more explosive plays than Dallas. Tampa Bay should not have 5 more explosive pass plays than the Cowboys. I agree it is a delicate balance. But as they find their identity, it is vital they find this middle ground between abandoning the run and abandoning the chance for big plays down the field. In other words, your offense has to be more than slants, quick-out WR screens, and hooks to Jason Witten. In this next stretch, let's see if Jason Garrett can find the right mix. Data from Week 6 at Carolina Run-Pass31-34Starting Field PositionD 291st Down Run-Pass17-102nd Down Avg Distance to Go8.082nd Down Run-Pass9-143rd Down Avg Distance to Go5.713rd Down Run-Pass3-113rd Down Conversions6-14, 43 All of these numbers are solid. The Cowboys game plans from Baltimore and Carolina are strong and show that they were attempting to play a more physical brand of football in the early downs. PASSING CHARTS: Here are the passing charts to see what was being accomplished on Sunday. Blue is a completion. Red is incomplete. Yellow is a touchdown, and Black is an interception. The passes are lines from where Romo released the pass to where the pass was caught. This shows you his release point and where he likes to throw when he slides in the pocket. Look at the passes down the field. There were only 3 that went 10 yards or more in the 1st half. Everything is underneath. 1st Half The 2nd half got progressively better, with the home run to Austin in the end zone, but you can see that Romo is getting rid of the ball very quickly. You cannot get big plays with 3 and 5 step drops, unless you are busting some big "YAC" plays - which this team counts upon. But almost no deep throws again. 2nd Half - All throws just to Miles Austin. Like we said, he has 7 of the team's 20 explosives and leads everyone by plenty. Romo was 5 of 9 going to Austin in this game, and you can see that they are looking for more plays down the field than anyone else with 19. Drive Starters -The 1st play of each drive can often reveal the intent of a coach to establish his game plan. How committed is he to the run or pass when the team comes off the sideline? We track it each week here - Wk 1-At New York: 9 Drives - 5 Run4 Pass Wk 2-At Seattle: 9 Drives - 3 Run6 Pass Wk 3-Tampa Bay: 13 Drives - 7 Run6 Pass Wk 4-Chicago: 11 Drives - 3 Run8 Pass Wk 5-At Baltimore: 10 Drives - 8 Run2 Pass Wk 6-At Carolina 10 Drives - 6 Run4 Pass Season: 62 Drives 32 Run30 Pass - 52 Run 2011 Total: 181 Drives - 79 Run102 Pass 44 Run SHOTGUN SNAPS- 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 1585 runpass split across the league, there is no way the defense respects your running game. When shotgun totals are high, the Cowboys are generally behind, scared of their offensive line, or frustrated. High Shotgun numbers are not this team's calling card for success. As you can see, the situation in the game dictates the use of shotgun. The Cowboys use "Shotgun 11" as their "catch-up" mode and the more they run it, usually the worse the game is going. Great balance the last two weeks, using shotgun only when necessary. Wk 1 - NYG: 1554 27.7 Wk 2 - Sea: 2956 52 Wk 3 - TB: 3463 54 Wk 4 - Chi: 5068 74 Wk 5 - Balt: 1979 24 Wk 6 - Car: 2264 34 2012 Season Total: 179384 47 2011 Total - 4451012 43.9 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 thePersonnel Groupings here. Totals by Personnel Groups: PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass116364-262-101214558-206-35136164-42-12217472-35-44226206-200-023343-40-0S01000-00-0S02000-00-0S11201262-418-122S12280-02-8Knee1-11-(-1)0-0Totals6531131-8034-231 You can see they were running the ball plenty. But, with no Murray and then no Costa, the big plays dried up on the ground. But again, you are not running the ball to get big plays. You are running the ball to open up big plays because you are sucking safeties and linebackers to the line of scrimmage. This must introduce play-action over the top more often. Look for that against the Giants. This is why the presence of Murray is highly desired. Totals by Personnel Groups on 3rd4th Down: PackagePlaysYardsRunPassFDTD11150-01-50012000-00-00013000-00-00021000-00-00022000-00-000231-21-(-2)0-000S01000-00-000S10000-00-000S1111781-210-7650S12180-01-810Totals14892-012-8960 They continue to search for productivity, efficiency, and most importantly, their identity as an offense. It is much better than it was coming off the Chicago game. They have versatility and a game plan that requires an opponent to respect all possibilities. Now, they seek the bigger plays. If they can find them, everything will fall into place. But, if they stay at about 3 explosives per game, then we will continue to see a very difficult time trying to put points on the board. And if you are not consistently going to score in the mid-to-high 20s, then you are really going to have a difficult time beating contenders. And, look, here come 3 straight contenders on the schedule.

Is Tony Romo in Trouble?

Tony Romo has faced his fair share of critics during his time in the NFL, and most of them are very valid. Romo’s numbers have been very sub-par at multiple times in his career. He has a cannon for an arm and always can sling it to his wide-out. But it’s those pesky turnovers that get him in trouble. And it’s not just a few turnovers; Its constant. His career got off to...

Romo: Low scoring result of poor execution

IRVING Aside from a 29-point outburst in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cowboys have struggled to score points. On Sunday, they'll face a New York Giants team that has scored at least 30 points on three separate occasions and averages 29.3 points per game. So why haven't the Cowboys been able to hit the 30-point mark? They met or exceeded that total five times last...

Week 8 Fantasy Football Players To Start and Sit

To help you set your lineups this weekend, here are my week 8 fantasy football players to start and sit: Guys to Start: QB Tony Romo, DAL (vs. NYG) – Most fantasy owners have already written off Romo this season, but there is still plenty of football left.  He faces a New York secondary that has been torched all year long, and this may be the game that Romo fantasy owners have...

Jerry Jones: Cowboys will remain aggressive

IRVING Walking through the halls of the Cowboys' Valley Ranch practice facility there's always a realistic chance that you'll run into Jerry Jones. And the Cowboys owner and general manager is usually open to stopping and chatting for a few minutes, as he did on Wednesday. While the news of the day was the season-ending injury suffered by inside linebacker Sean Lee...

DeMarco Murray’s Status Still Up In The Air

I glad Coach has faith in me Juan… DeMarco Murray is still may not practice this week as he recovers from a sprained foot.  Jason Garrett had this to say about Murray: “We’re certainly optimistic,” Garrett said. “He’s proven to be someone who heals quickly.” “He was physical, he was downhill. They were going after the ball, and he handled it well,” Garrett said...

Martellus Bennett stops by Good Day NY, takes shot at Tony Romo (Video)

New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett visited the set of Good Day New York on Tuesday, and managed to take a shot at Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the process. New York News | NYC Breaking News Co-host Dave Price threw a football across the studio to weatherman Mike Woods, but it was low and bounced on the ground before Woods could grab it, prompting Bennett to...

NFL Rumors: Could Dallas Cowboys Hire Mike Holmgren To Replace Jason Garrett As Cowboys Head Coach?

The Dallas Cowboys have been mired in mediocrity for too long. Once known as America’s Team, the Cowboys have reached the NFL Playoffs just four times since the turn of the century. They have not made it to the Super Bowl since the 1995 NFL season, and have won just one of their last seven postseason games. This cannot sit well with owner Jerry Jones. Neither can the fact that...

Martellus Bennett takes shot at Tony Romo (Video)

New York News | NYC Breaking News Martellus Bennett was a guest on “Good Day New York” on Tuesday, and the New York Giants tight end spent part of his appearance doing what he does best — taking shots at Tony Romo. The show’s hosts had a football on set in light of Bennett’s appearance, [...]

The Cowboys To Make Change At WR?

Week one was a long time ago Juan… Kevin Olgetree was the darling of the fantasy world after week one.  Owners had images of LoRo 2011 dancing through their heads.  Too bad he hasn’t done a thing since then.  Yesterday it appeared as though he was benched in favor of Dwayne Harris, although Jason Garrett said the benching was due to a finger injury. Cowboys insider Calvin...

Pink not enough in cancer fight

This weekend the NFL wraps up its war on breast cancer with a final barrage of pink shoes, pink towels, pink hats, pink gloves and now even pink penalty flags. They are killing the disease with public relations. I guess the technical phrase for what the NFL is doing is raising awareness. One question: Are there people unaware of how insidious the disease is and the absolute necessity...

PSW week 7 fantasy recap

Philly Sports World Fantasy Week 7 recap The Patriots taking down the Jets brings my record up to 5-2. Though the game was not the rout that I expected a win is a win, Ridley being also one of my start them was the Pats leading rusher, no touchdowns would make him a bust. RG3, two touchdowns!! A good fantasy day as I had him a must play, predicting two on the ground, he gave us...

Cowboys lose leading tackler Lee to toe injury

Dallas Cowboys leading tackler Sean Lee has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season because of a right big toe injury. Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that Lee will have surgery in the ''next week or so.'' Garrett says an MRI showed ligament damage that will require the surgery and end hopes of Lee possibly being able to return in four...
Cowboys News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.