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TMQB: Quarter Season Review

Quarter season review

The table below summarizes Dallas’s net pass YPA for the period from 2007-2010.

Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
2007 7.4 2nd 5.4 6th
2008 6.6 11th 5.3 5th
2009 7.3 6th 5.9 11th
2010 6.7 7th 6.8 28th

As a basis for comparison, summarized in the table below are the maximum, median, average, and minimum net pass YPA for the NFL 2010 season

Net Pass YPA – NFL All Teams 2010 Season
  Offense Defense
Maximum 7.8 7.5
Median 6.1 6.1
Average 6.2 6.2
Minimum 4.3 5.3

The Cowboys results through week 4 are summarized in the table below.

Dallas Cowboys
Week Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
1 8.2   6.2  
2 9.7   4.4  
3 6.8   5.8  
4 6.7   5.6  
Season 7.8 4th 5.7 8th

The Darkos results though week 5 are summarized in the table below.

Darko Cowboys
Week Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
1 8.7   5.1  
2 6.5   4.8  
3 8.9   7.7  
4 6.6   5.1  
5 7.5   5.6  
Season 7.7 5th 5.6 6th

Week 4 was a carbon copy of Week 3. Dallas is showing incredibly consistency. The Dallas offense produced an above average net pass YPA of 6.7 yards/a and the defense produced an above average defensive net pass YPA of 5.6 yards/a. 

With a quarter of the season down, Dallas has played much better than I hoped. Before the season I thought the offense would be 5ish in net pass YPA and 17-23ish in defensive net pass YPA. Instead they’re 4th and 8th. Before the season my best guess was that Dallas would finish 8-8 +/- 2 games. Now I think it’s much more likely that Dallas is a 10-6/9-7 teams +/- 2 games.

Usual caveat. None of that is guaranteed. Last year San Diego played like 12-4 team but actually went 9-7 and missed the playoffs because of special teams meltdowns and turnovers. The NEP weren’t as good as San Diego from a statistical perspective but went 14-2 because of an incredible turnover margin. But after 4 games I like what I’ve seen. I feel a whole lot better about Dallas ripping off a streak of wins than I did before the season started.

Amazingly, the noise of 3 interceptions has completely obscured the progress for many fans. Dallas has run about 500 plays on offense and defense so far this season. Instead of looking at the results of 497 plays, they’re looking at just 3 plays instead.

I'm looking at all 500 plays. And you know what they’re telling me. Dallas is pretty good. Dallas could have the best offense in the NFL when Dez and Miles are healthy. And I can’t ignore that the defense is producing. Here’s what’s likely to be repeated. Dallas passing like they passed against Detroit in the first 3 quarters. Here’s what’s less likely to be repeated. Romo throwing 3 interceptions in a game. 

Random game notes

-It feels to me like Felix struggles carrying the load. Hope Murray can start contributing and take some of  the burden off Felix. On a related note, it seems like Murray needs to make one more guy miss for some big runs.

-I definitely don’t want to Felix going down and get the Choice experience full time.

-#80 looking incredibly athletic on a screen (what I wrote at the time: what if #80 ever filled his potential? He could be better than #82). Right after that #80 dropped an easy screen.

-Lissy was a heartbeat away from getting stiff-armed by the 195 lb Jahvid Best.

 1st & 10 passes

-The Carpenter interception came on a 1st and 10 pass. So did:

-44 yard bomb to Laurent Robinson

-34 yard bomb to Dez (overturned on replay)

-37 yard seam pass to Witten

 Pass rush lines

-the Ware, Ratliff, Butler, Spencer pass rush line looks good.

-on a related note, Spears gets zero pass rush.

-Sweet play: Ogletree starts like he’s going to run a reverse, then reverses direction and runs a pass pattern to the end zone pylon.

-#93 KO’s Sensabaugh. Sorry, this guy is never going to have good football instincts.

-#88 – the blitz buster. The time is coming when blitzing Dallas is going to be suicide. When Dez first arrived at VR there was talk about how he would be the ultimate blitz buster. We’re starting to see it. The throw to Dez over Revis in the NYJ game and the first TD to Dez. 

Maybe it’s the coach …

Cold hard football facts look at 4th quarter performance. Here’s what they found

Last week we looked at underachieving teams, and both the 2008 and 2010 team appeared. This is a direct result of losing so many close games. Perhaps the epic struggles the team has in winning close games is less about the QB, and more about coaching. Since taking over as head coach, the team has found winning games in the fourth quarter difficult to come by.

... the lowest percentage of their wins resulting from a fourth quarter comeback or game-winning drive.

As shown above, lack of opportunity has not been the problem. The team has been an extremely competitive team ... having a realistic chance to win almost every game they have played…

Whoops … go read the article. That was about Mike McCarthy, Super Bowl champ coach. Not Garrett 

Week 6

The table below summarize the offensive and defense net pass YPA for Dallas 2010 and NEP 2010.

Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
Dallas 2010 6.7 7th 6.8 28th
NEP 2010 7.2 2nd 6.4 23rd
In general I believe turnovers are inherently unpredictable. Teams can’t control when they’ll win or lose the turnover battle. And unfortunately seasons swing on the timing. For example, let’s assume a team is going to have 8 games where they lose the battle and 8 games where they win the battle.

To use a golf analogy. I think of turnovers like a golf handicap. So let’s say losing the turnover battle is like playing with a 5 stroke handicap. You can understand why it’d be nice if all the games where Dallas is playing with a ‘turnover handicap’ come against teams that are ‘8 stroke handicap’ golfers instead of scratch golfers. I think of Detroit as a scratch golfer so it was unfortunate that Dallas was playing with a ‘turnover handicap’ against Detroit.

The NEP have a tremendous passing offense. They were 2nd last year and they’re1st this year. However, although this isn’t widely recognized, their passing defense isn’t very good. It was 23rd last year and it’s dead last this year. So look for Dallas to burn up the field.

Last week I quoted Bill Barnwell’s NFL preview.  Sorry to quote it again but it’s relevant.

And yes, we're even going to take down Tom Brady. During his stunning MVP campaign last season, Brady famously threw just four interceptions in 492 dropbacks, producing an obscene interception rate of 0.8 percent. That was the second-lowest rate for a passer in NFL history, and there's no way Brady will be able to repeat it. You can look at the record books yourself. Although there are one or two seasons from most of the great passers you would expect up there, nobody sustains an interception rate below even 2 percent from year to year, let alone that ridiculous 0.8 percent figure. Even if we assume Brady dips below his career average again and hits an even 2 percent in the same number of attempts, that would be 10 picks. Assuming he throws more frequently (since thePatriots ran a league-low 158 meaningful drives last season against a league average of 182.6), Brady could creep up toward 15 interceptions and it wouldn't be anything extraordinary. Just simple regression toward the mean.

Those interceptions are going to put that defense in short fields, and when the Patriots aren't able to force turnovers at a historically high rate, they're going to keep allowing points. That will end up being New England's downfall as the season goes along, and it'll keep them out of the Super Bowl.   

Barnwell’s assessment has been pretty accurate. The NEP D is vulnerable. Last year all the turnovers covered up the deficiencies. When they turned the ball over against Buffalo, Buffalo was able to make NEP pay. Fundamentally this doesn’t appear to be a very good D.

Going back to my golf analogy the NEP are scratch golfers. Hopefully Dallas will be on the right side of the turnover battle. And if they are, watch out because Dallas has been playing every bit as good as the NEP. If the NEP have to play with a ‘turnover handicap’ I think that will be enough for Dallas to overcome the home field advantage.

One last link. Brian Burke on the NEP/NYJ game last week.

Again, New England leads the league in offense, and not just by a little. The Patriots top the league with 9.0 net Yards per Attempt (YPA). In their historic 2007 season, they averaged 7.8 net YPA. It’s likely that  they’ll regress toward the league mean over the remaining 12 games of the regular season, but 9.0 net YPA is a very high perch from which to regress.

The Jets’ defense is No. 1 according to my efficiency model, with near-league-leading efficiencies in pass defense, run defense and defensive interceptions. It’s going to be fun watching the matchup when the Patriots have the ball.

The other half of the game will feature a mediocre Jets offense against a league-worst Patriots defense. At 8.6 net YPA allowed, New England’s pass defense is almost as dreadful as their pass offense numbers are amazing. So despite Rex Ryan’s re-commitment to his ground-and-pound strategy, it’s probably best for the Jets to take to the air at New England. Center Nick Mangold is expected to return to the lineup, and the Patriots haven’t been able to effectively pressure quarterbacks.  

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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