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Do the Cowboys have too many WRs?

4

I'm going to let Bob Sturm speak for himself: COWBOYS ---------------------------------- One thing that will be extremely interesting to see this season is how the Cowboys decide to spend most of their snaps on offense based on personnel groupings. I absolutely think the Cowboys had an effective offense in 2009, but there were certain things it did far better than others. For instance, there is no question that they were a better power running team than they were a wide open "Shotgun 3-wide" passing attack. And they knew it. Take those final 2 games against Philadelphia in consecutive weeks – 1 to win the division title, and 1 more to advance in the playoffs. In those 2 games to finish the season where the Cowboys offense looked wonderful in 2 blowout victories over the hated Eagles, the Cowboys went 3-wide on exactly 37 of 138 plays (26%). That may sound like quite a bit to you, unless you consider that 101 of 138 plays (74%), the Cowboys had only 1 or 2 WR on the field at the same time. So, with all of this conjecture in the off season about which WR is #2 (Bryant or Williams?) and which is #3 (Bryant or Williams or Crayton?) you can understand a small amount of consternation from the players involved. They know that last year, when the game was in great doubt, aside from the 2-minute offense, Jason Garrett and the offense preferred power-run looks that had both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett on the field plowing run paths and setting up play-action passes. And that simply means that many times, WRs were standing on the sideline watching. Based on the numbers from ProFootballFocus.com we see that of the 1247 snaps that the Cowboys took last season, Jason Witten took 99% of the snaps. Roy Williams 73%, Miles Austin 69% (remember his limited role in the first 4 weeks), Patrick Crayton 50%, Sam Hurd 9%, and Kevin Ogletree 5% of the snaps. Martellus Bennett, whose numbers are very important – because when he is on the field, a WR must step off it – was on the field 46% of the time last year because of his ability to run block (Obviously not his ability to make catches last season). And young blocking TE was out there 19% of the time, demonstrating their love for power football. Where do you go in 2010? Dez Bryant has everyone so excited with the options and the possibilities. But, in 2009, the bread and butter of the team in base down and distance situations was to only have 2 Wideouts on the field at the same time. Remember, in 2008, the Cowboys had so many weapons and so many possibilities that during the week, we all wondered what aerial attack was going to have the opponent begging for mercy on Sunday. But, when the game arrived, Garrett, Tony Romo, and the gang could not figure out how to use Terrell Owens, Williams, Witten, Crayton, and the gang all together. It just didn’t compute to moving the ball. So, slowly, the transition to "Romo-Friendly" began. That was code for "more run plays out of more run-based formations". And, it worked. The Cowboys had a progress-filled 2009. They showed that simplifying was the key to their success. Create confusion for the defense about whether the play was a run or a pass. This will allow more room in the secondary. With Dez Bryant, it appears the idea is to go back to 2008. More WRs on the field. More pass declarations before the snap. More aerial attack! Will it work? They have plenty of work to do. And now, you can understand why the Cowboys take work in May and June so seriously. I suspect the offense is attempting to figure this riddle out now so it makes sense in September.

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