FanPost

Blame the Cowboys scoring issues on the defense

Much has been made of the difficulty the Cowboys are experiencing in scoring. This is not a new development. In 2007, the Cowboys only trailed the record setting New England Patriots in scoring and total offense. Since then the Cowboys have only finished in the top ten in scoring one time.

SEASON

PTS/G

RANK

2007

28.4

2

2008

22.6

18

2009

22.6

14

2010

24.6

7

2011

23.1

15

Oddly enough, the season that the Cowboys finished 7th coincides with a 6-10 record. In 2010, Romo was lost for the season after the NY Giants game in Arlington. While Jon Kitna did an admirable job until week 16 (when he was lost for the season and as it turns out, for his career), several other significant factors led to Dallas scoring 24.6 points per game.

SEASON

TOTAL TO

TOTAL TD

AVG KO

AVG PNT

2007

29

3

22.3

8.7

2008

22

2

22.2

6.4

2009

21

3

22

10.9

2010

30

7

21.2

15.9

2011

24

1

23.3

7.1

Notice the total number of return touchdowns scored by the Cowboys in 2010. Eliminating 2010 from the equation leads to an average of 2.25 returns for touchdowns per season. Needless to say, the 7 returns for touchdowns in 2010 were an outlier for this team.

Also note the average yards per punt return, 15.9 in 2010. Dez Bryant's rookie season was by far the best year for the Dallas punt return unit since the departure of Bill Parcells.

The most significant number, however, is the number of turnovers forced by the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2010. In 2007, the only other season the Cowboys finished in the top 10 (2nd) in scoring, the Cowboys collected 29 turnovers. Every other season, the Cowboys never collected more than 1.5 turnovers per game.

Below are the averages for the top ten teams in scoring since 2007 in the same statistics:

SEASON

AVG TO

AVG TD

AVG KO

AVG PNT

2007

31.7

5.1

23.31

9.88

2008

25

4.2

23.18

9.77

2009

30.1

4.4

22.77

8.64

2010

28.9

4

21.52

9.71

2011

27.8

3.7

23.86

8.62

Dallas only surpassed the average turnovers collected by the top ten scoring teams in the NFL in 2010. The Cowboys were within 3 turnovers of the average in 2007, but were well below the average every other season.

The Cowboys had more returns for touchdowns in 2010 than the average for the top ten scoring teams in the NFL. Dallas also had a greater punt return average than the top ten scoring teams in the NFL during the 2010 season. Obviously, a better punt return average leads to better field position and shorter fields.

The Cowboys do not compare favorably in turnovers or return touchdowns per season with the rest of the NFL. The top ten teams in scoring, however, have higher averages across all statistical categories included:

07-'11 SEASONS

PTS/G

AVG TO

AVG TD

Top Ten

27

28.7

4.3

Cowboys

24.3

25.2

3.2

NFL

21.88

26.5

3.6

Despite struggling to collect turnovers and registering touchdowns on special teams and defense, Dallas has managed to score more points than the NFL average since 2007. The Cowboys offense seems to be outperforming most NFL offenses, but cannot offset the differences in turnovers and returns to keep pace with the elite scoring teams in the NFL.

Considering that the Cowboys offense has exceeded the rushing total posted in 2007, the hypothesis that Sparano was responsible for keeping Garrett running the ball effectively seems false. In addition, in the two seasons where Romo started every game (2009 and 2011) the Cowboys amassed more passing yards than the team did in 2007.

SEASON

PASS YDS/G

RUSH YDS/G

2007

256.6

109.1

2008

236.8

107.7

2009

267.9

131.4

2010

252.6

111.6

2011

262.6

112.9

The statistics suggest that the Cowboys offense has been outscoring most of league since 2007 despite not benefiting from the same number of return touchdowns, turnovers collected, and improved field position from the punt and kick return units. When compared with the top ten scoring teams over the past five seasons that have collected more turnovers and scored more touchdowns on returns than the NFL average over that time, the Cowboys scoring comes up short.

Perhaps the problem lies somewhere other than the offense. Considering that only the Lions and Raiders have collected fewer turnovers than the Cowboys so far in 2012, this trend seems to be perpetuating.


Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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