Cowboys offense vs. penalties (Miles Austin effect)

After watching this team for 8 games, I had come to the conclusion that when this team doesn't beat themselves through offensive penalties, they have a lethal offensive unit. I set out to see if the statistics back this up. In each game I looked through the drive logs. I calculated the penalty yards by taking the yards gained on the play that was called back + the penalty yardage. For offensive PI I just counted the penalty yardage. I realize this isn't the best way to account for penalty yardage, but I think its important to take into account the hidden yardage in plays that were called back. I also didn't include some of the game ending drives we didn't score on.

To be fair, its tough to take the Giants and Broncos games into account - they are the "Bad Romo Games" - where he pretty much stunk so that I think it doesn't seem like the stats would follow. Specifically the Broncos game, cause the offense just crumbled.

Here are the game by game drive logs, penalty yards on that drive, yards gained per drive and turnover. The last column gives the scores in our non penalty drives and penalty drives.


game drives penalty yards yards per drive turnovers scores
TB 9 0 43 4tds, 2fgs
1 15 26 0
NYG 11 0 32 2 INT 4 tds 1 fg
1 28 12 1 INT 0
CAR 5 0 39 1 td 1 fg
1 5 74 1 fg
1 10 42
1 29 33
DEN 8 0 25 INT 1 td
1 5 14 1 fg
1 10 58
1 11 9 fumble
KC 6 0 38 fumble 2 tds 1 fg
1 5 66 1 td 1 fg
1 10 7
1 12 32
1 14 79
1 17 46 missed fg
ATL 5 0 28 1 td 2 fgs
1 5 41 2 tds 1 fg
1 10 7
1 15 63
1 24 80
SEA 8 0 37 fumble 3tds 1 fg
1 10 62 missed fg 0
1 15 37
PHL 6 0 25 INT 1fg
1 5 27 2 tds 1 fg
1 10 30
1 10 55
1 15 37


Here are the results for the season so far. I also separated the first four weeks and last four weeks. I included a separate category without the Denver game as well.


penalties scores drives scoring percentage
0 penalties 16 tds 9 fgs 54 46
0 penalties w/0 Denver game 15 tds 9 fgs 46 52
5 penalty yards 4 fgs 5 80
10+ penalty yards 1 fg 5 tds 18 33



first four weeks (pre-Austin)


scoring percentage
0 penalties
9 tds, 4 fgs  30
0 penalties w/0 Denver game 8 tds 4 fgs 22

5 penalty yards
1 fg
10+ penalty yards
1 fg

last four weeks (Austin's arrived!)


scoring percentage
0 penalties
6 tds 5 fgs 25
5 penalty yards
3 fgs
10+ penalty yards
5 tds


These stats tell a tale of two seasons - the first four games, penalties pretty much ended our offensive drives. The last 4, penalties had little effect - even the long ones. Whats the difference? I think its gotta be the deep threat that Miles provides. Remember in 2007 that we still had a heavily penalized unit, but could often convert third and longs? Back when TO was a true #1? Well, Miles has opened up the field for the other receivers, and we've had no problem either overcoming big penalties with a quick strike or working our way back 10 yards at a time. Obviously Romo has been much better too, so i guess its hard to determine whose the biggest reason.

Also, this is pretty solid evidence that when we're not killing ourselves with penalties, the offense is very efficient. 52% scoring rate is pretty solid and shows we have a legitimate top flight offense, though I haven't looked at them for other teams. And really, our scoring rate the past 4 weeks when penalized is very good, much better than I thought it would be.

After putting this together, I've gotta say I have even more respect for OCC. Its hard to diligently look through stats for 8 games.I probably made a few mistakes.

Another couple random notes:

This team gets very few 3 and outs. Most of the drives gain 2+ first downs. But that would be the topic of another post.

Our turnovers have happened IMMEDIATELY, right at the start of drives. We really haven't turned the ball over after getting 2 first downs.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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