Much talk is currently focusing on the Cowboys' run offense going up against the Redskins' run defense. Many of the Cowboys' blog are in good spirit and confident that the Cowboys will have a more effective running game this Monday night against the Redskins. On ESPN Dallas blog, the question is asked, "Will the Cowboys have a run of 10 yards or more vs. Washington?" All bloggers responded with a positive outcome.
I don't dispute whether the Cowboys will or won't have a run of 10 yards or more. The question I ask is, "Will the Cowboys consistently run well throughout the game?" This is imperative if Romo is unable to play on Monday. Let us take a look at what the stats tell us.
NY Giants Net Yards Rushing: 75 vs Redskins
NY Giants Net Avg/Play: 3.8 vs Redskins
NY Giants Rushing Plays: 20 vs Redskins
NY Giants Net Yards Rushing: 119 vs Rams
NY Giants Net Avg/Play: 3.1 vs Rams
NY Giants Rushing Plays: 38 vs Rams
Even though the Giants had more yards on the Rams, the average per play stays similar between both games. This is because the Giants only had 20 run plays against the Redskins and 38 against the Rams. If we put it in perspective, the Giants would have 144 yards against the Redskins if they would have ran the ball 38 times.
Cardinals Net Yards Rushing: 93 vs Redskins
Cardinals Net Avg/Play: 6.2 vs Redskins
Cardinals Rushing Plays: 15 vs Redskins
Cardinals Net Yards Rushing: 99 vs Panthers
Cardinals Net Avg/Play: 4.0 vs Panthers
Cardinals Rushing Plays: 25 vs Panthers
Once again we see a similar situation. The Cardinals ran the ball more times against the Panthers, but they averaged more against the Redskins. Putting it in perspective, the Cardinals would have gained 155 yards if they would have ran the ball 10 more times.
Redskins Total Net Yards Rushing Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 168
Redskins Total Net Avg/Play Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 4.8
Redskins Total Rushing Plays Against (vsNYG + vsARZ): 35
Clearly the teams that have played against the Redskins have not ran the ball enough against them. If they had, the Redskins' stats would look more like this.
Redskins Total Net Yards Rushing Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 299
Redskins Total Net Avg/Play Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 4.7
Redskins Total Rushing Plays Against (vsNYG + vsARZ): 63
What we see is that the Redskins aren't a tough team to run against, its just of matter of being consistent. We can control the time of possession with the run game. We can't be discourage from not gaining much yards. The Redskins aren't a team that will make many tackles for loss, if any at all.
Redskins Tackled for Loss: 1 (-2 yards) vs Giants
Redskins Tacked for Loss: 0 vs Cardinals
Now how effective have the Cowboys been running the ball and did they actually face tough run defenses?
NY Jets Net Yards Rushing Allowed: 64 vs DAL
NY Jets Net Avg/Play Allowed: 2.5 vs DAL
NY Jets Rushing Plays Against: 26 vs DAL
NY Jets Net Yards Rushing Allowed: 112 vs JAG
NY Jets Net Avg/Play Allowed: 4.1 vs JAG
NY Jets Rushing Plays Against: 27 vs JAG
Are the Jets a tough rushing D or are the Jaguars a better rushing team then the Cowboys? The Jaguars put up 163 Net Rushing Yards against the Titans, averaging 3.5 a play. Even though the Jaguars ran the ball 20 times less (47 Rushing plays vs TEN) against the Jets, they average more yards per rush. Which means the Jaguars were more effective moving the ball on the ground against the Jets then against the Titan. How many think that Titans have a tough rushing defense?
SF 49ers Net Yards Rushing Allowed: 45 vs DAL
SF 49ers Net Avg/Play Allowed: 2.0 vs DAL
SF 49ers Rushing Plays Against: 22 vs DAL
SF 49ers Net Yards Rushing Allowed: 64 vs SEA
SF 49ers Net Avg/Play Allowed: 2.9 vs SEA
SF 49ers Rushing Plays Against: 22 vs SEA
According to the stats, the Niners are a tough rushing defense. However, I don't think the Cowboys nor the Seahawks are top rushing teams. The Cowboys played similar against the Niners as they did the Jets. Similarly, the Seahawks Net Yards Rushing against the Steelers was 31, with a 2.4 average per play. So our rushing offense is similar to the Seahawks rushing offense, which is bad.
Cowboys Total Net Yards Rushing (vsNYJ + vsSF): 109
Cowboys Total Net Avg/Play (vsNYJ + vsSF): 2.3
Cowboys Total Rushing Play (vsNYJ + vsSF): 48
Its definitely not for a lack of trying, but the stats tell us that the Cowboys do not have a good rushing offense, regardless of what you saw in the preseason.
The question we should now ask is, Why aren't teams running enough against the Redskins?
NY Giants Net Yards Passing: 240 vs Redskins
NY Giants Net Avg/Play: 6.7 vs Redskins
NY Giants Net Yards Passing: 204 vs Rams
NY Giants Net Avg/Play: 6.2 vs Rams
The stats suggest that the Giants passing offense played similar in both games, but it was the Giants 3rd-Down Efficiency (1/10 vsRedskind and 5/15 vsRams) that killed them in the end. The Giants only 3rd-Down conversion in the Redskins' game was a run by Bradshaw.
Since Eli didn't complete his first pass until 3:55 left in the 1st quarter, it appears the coaches kept calling passing plays hoping to warm him up. He continued this trend throughout the game, ultimately allowing the Redskins to tie the game for the half and take over afterwards. The Giants mistake was abandoning the run. Bradshaw only had 13 carries and Jacobs had 6.
Cardinals Net Yards Passing: 231 vs Redskins
Cardinals Net Avg/Play: 7.0 vs Redskins
Cardinals Net Yards Passing: 295 vs Panthers
Cardinals Net Avg/Play: 10.2 vs Panthers
The Cardinals have always been a pass first team. Now with Kolb, they're looking to be a more effective passing team, so its no surprise that they didn't run the ball as much. Beanie Wells only had 14 carries
The Cardinals, being more effective in the passing game then the Giants, exploited the Redskins a little more. The only difference is that the Cardinals don't take many shots deep, but we must take into account that SS LaRon Landry didn't play in neither games. He will play against us on Monday night!
Redskins Total Net Yards Passing Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 471
Redskins Total Net Avg/Play Allowed (vsNYG + vsARZ): 6.8
According to Carroll, Parmer, and Thorn, the authors of The Hidden Game of Football, if an offense gains at least 4 yards on 1st down, the play is considered a success. On 2nd down, the play is considered successful if it gains half the remaining distance to the first down marker. And 3rd down is only considered a success if it gains a 1st down.
The Redskins are allowing 6.8 passing yards a play and 4.8 rushing yards a play. If a team gains 6 to 7 yards in passing, on any down, it is considered a success (assuming no yards have been lost). Clearly this is a coaching decision not to run the ball as much as a team should against the Redskins.
Assuming Romo and Dez play, How effective can the Cowboys Passing game be?
Cowboys Net Yards Passing: 326 vs NYJ
Cowboys Net Avg/Play: 8.2 vs NYJ
Cowboys Net Yards Passing: 427 vs SF
Cowboys Net Avg/Play: 9.7 vs SF
Cowboys Total Net Yards Passing (vsNYJ + vsSF): 753
Cowboys Total Net Avg/Play (vsNYJ + vsSF): 9.0
We can obviously see that the Cowboys are putting up great numbers in the passing game. Incomparable are the 3.4 passing avg/play the Jaguars put up against the Jets or the 3.7 passing avg/play the Seahawks put up against the Niners. A comparison is unnecessary.
Comparing the Cowboys' Offense and the Redskins' Defense, we notice a few things. First, the Cowboys don't look like a team that's going to run the ball 30 - 35 times a game. Look for more like 24 times in this game. I'm thinking the Cowboys will gain 84 Net Rushing Yards averaging 3.5 per play.
Second, in the passing game, I find it difficult to believe that the Redskins will have a better approach at stopping the Cowboys' passing attack then the Jets or Niners had. This is as long as Romo and Dez play. Look for the Cowboys to average 8.0 passing yards per play with 336 passing yards. Add that to the 84 rushing yards and we should expect a total of 420 Net Yards, with an average of 6.4 per play.
This will be the Cowboys lowest amount, in passing yards, yet! But it won't be due to the Redskins' passing defense. It will be more because of the Cowboys effectiveness to run the ball better on the Redskins then what they were able to do in the previous two weeks.
Of course this may not happen. Something could occur in the game that forces the Cowboys to pass more often then run. Even so, the stats tell us that the Cowboys should have their best running game so far this season, but not to expect too much.
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