FanPost

Turnovers and Penalties -- No changes in the Garrett regime

WARNING: if you hate long articles, skip this one.

In a recent article, Stephen Jones was quoted as saying "I think we're going in the right direction" and "I think there's accountability." Stephen Jones has much more intimate knowledge of \the Cowboys than I. However, I'm on the outside looking in and sometimes that is the best perspective.

The source of almost all my numbers are here.

Penalties per Game

Year

Best in NFL

Worst in NFL

Dallas

Dallas Rank

NE Rank

NO Rank

2012

3.2

8.2

7.8

30th

11th

19th

2011

4.7

10.2

7.1

28th

4th

10th

2010

3.8

9.2

6.8

27th

8th

15th

2009

4.2

7.4

6.9

29th

6th

12th

2008

3.6

7.5

7.5

32nd

1st

14th

2007

3.4

8.6

6.8

28th

9th

4th

2006

4.2

7.7

6.4

21st

20th

6th

2005

5.8

9.2

6.2

10th

13th

28th

2004

5.2

8.1

6.6

10th

5th

32nd

2003

4.3

8.4

5.9

10th

16th

13th

In 2006, Sean Payton took over the Saints from Haslett who was the coach for the previous 6 seasons. Obviously, in 2012, Payton isn't coach the saints. Parcells was the coach of the Cowboys from 2003-2006.

Takeaways per Game

Year

Best in NFL

Worst in NFL

Dallas

Dallas Rank

NE Rank

Chi Rank

2012

3.5

0.7

1.0

30th

3rd

1st

2011

2.4

0.9

1.6

16th

4th

7th

2010

2.4

1.1

1.9

10th

2nd

5th

2009

2.5

1.1

1.4

26th

12th

14th

2008

2.3

0.8

1.4

24th

22nd

3rd

2007

2.9

1.2

1.7

17th

10th

7th

2006

2.7

0.8

1.9

10th

4th

1st

2005

2.6

1.0

1.6

23rd

31st

6th

2004

2.5

0.9

1.4

26th

1st

16th

2003

2.8

1.1

1.5

23rd

3rd

30th

Lovie Smith started coaching the Bears in 2004. Notably, the Cowboys 2010 season was a tale of two halves. In the first 8 games, they got 10 takeaways (with Wade as HC/DC). In the last 8 games, they got 20 takeaways, with Paul Pasqualoni as the interim DC.

I looked at Rob Ryan's record for his teams in generating turnovers and the numbers are surprisingly bad. He was DC of the Raiders from 2004-2008, Browns from 2009-2010, and the Cowboys from 2011-2012. Here are his team's rankings in turnovers (oldest to newest): 30th, 30th, 27th 21st, 17th, 31st, 14th, 16th, 30th. Frankly, I didn't think the numbers would look that bad.

Giveaways per Game

Year

Best in NFL

Worst in NFL

Dallas

Dallas Rank

NE Rank

Indy Rank

2012

0.8

3.6

2.4

30th

2nd

20th

2011

0.7

2.5

1.3

6th

4th

25th

2010

0.6

2.6

1.9

21st

1st

12th

2009

1.1

2.6

1.3

4th

10th

5th

2008

0.9

2.2

2.1

31st

7th

2nd

2007

1.0

2.5

1.5

5th

1st

2nd

2006

1.1

2.9

1.8

20th

15th

6th

2005

1.1

2.8

1.9

24th

11th

4th

2004

0.9

2.6

2.3

27th

9th

3rd

2003

1.1

2.5

1.8

20th

6th

3rd

In the years of Romo/Garrett, the Cowboys have been bipolar with regard to giveaways. Some seasons, they are great. Other seasons, they are awful. Coincidentally, 2007 and 2009 were the Cowboys playoff years and they were 4th and 5th in giveaways per game. Last season just spoke to how close the Cowboys were to having a special year. As I have mentioned in the past, the Cowboys were 5 plays away (one in each of 5 games) from being 13-3.

The Indy numbers are notable. Between 2003-2008 (6 seasons), Indy finished no worse than 6th in overall +/- turnovers. During that stretch, they had a record of 75-21. That doesn't count the 14-2 seasons of 2009 in which they were 13th in overall +/- turnover margin (because of weak takeaway numbers).

Offense per Game

Year

Dallas Yards Rank

Dallas Points Rank

NE Yards Rank

NE Points Rank

NO Yards Rank

NO Points Rank

2012

6

26

1

1

5

8

2011

10

15

2

3

1

1

2010

8

9

7

1

5

8

2009

2

16

4

6

1

1

2008

12

19

5

7

1

1

2007

3

3

1

1

5

12

2006

7

4

11

5

1

6

2005

12

15

6

10

20

31

2004

16

25

9

3

15

15

2003

18

24

15

11

11

15

There is another stat that I like, which is Yards per Point, which is a measure of offensive efficiency. Dallas rankings in the Garrett era (most recent to latest) is: 30th, 20th, 13th, 25th, 21st, and 4th.

Defense per Game

Year

Dallas Yards Rank

Dallas Points Rank

NE Yards Rank

NE Points Rank

Chi Yards Rank

Chi Points Rank

2012

5

18

22

12

6

2

2011

14

15

31

11

17

14

2010

23

31

25

8

10

4

2009

10

3

9

6

18

21

2008

7

20

10

8

20

16

2007

8

13

5

1

28

17

2006

14

21

10

2

10

3

2005

10

12

24

17

4

1

2004

16

27

9

2

19

12

2003

1

4

7

1

14

21

Similar to the other stat I reproduced above for the offense, is Opponent Yards per Point, which is a measure of defense efficiency. Dallas rankings since 2007 (most recent to latest) is: 25th, 16th, 32nd, 1st(??), 29th, and 20th.

What does this all mean?

The Cowboys worse enemies are themselves. I'm sure there are a number of ways one could interpret these statistics. However, I think these numbers confirm what most people have realized about the Cowboys. They are a talented yet undisciplined team who beat themselves.

Penalties

Although Garrett wasn't the head coach, he was the offensive coordinator and "head coach in waiting" since 2007. In that time, the Cowboys have been dreadful. Moreover, the team is getting worse - not better. You look at the consistent excellence of the Patriots and how Sean Payton changed the team around in a single year when he arrived at the Saints. Dumb penalties have cost the Cowboys dearly over the years (just go back to the 15 yarder by Jacques Reeves at the end of the first half in the playoff game against the Giants).

Takeaways/Giveaways

With the exception of a great second half of the 2010 season, the Cowboys just don't take the ball away. It was true with Phillips and it is true with Ryan. As I noted above, Dallas is bipolar when it comes to giveaways - bad season, good season, bad season, good season. It seems that the Cowboys are capable of being careful with the ball, but the Cowboys don't at times. In the end the Cowboys overall +/- turnover margin is not very good. The overall +/- turnover margin ranking for Dallas since 2007 (most recent to latest) is 31st, 10th, 13th, 13th, 30th, and 8th.

Conclusion

When you look at the Cowboys offensive and defensive performance regarding yards gained/given up, it shows that both the offense and defense are above-average. However, when you look at the IMPORTANT stat of points scored and points given up, Dallas has consistently underperformed based upon the yards gained/given up. I think this is a direct result of the Cowboys poor performance in both penalties and turnovers.

Although some people may have you believe that the Cowboys are an untalented team. It certainly is not the case. The Cowboys, however, are an undisciplined and sloppy team. The Cowboys don't take care of the ball, don't get takeaways, and the Cowboys rival the Raiders in taking penalties.

Many people think New England is the gold standard for football franchises these days. It doesn't hurt when you have Tom Brady as the QB. However, just having a really good QB doesn't get you to the promised land. The only other constant in the Patriots success has been Bill Belichick. His teams are disciplined, they don't turn the ball over, and they get turnovers. For a defense that gives up the large number of yards that they do, they are still very good in scoring defense. They don't beat themselves.

Personally, I see the that culture of unaccountability from the Wade Phillips era has been carried into the Garrett era. The Cowboys are a team that beats itself and it has been for a long time. Moreover, through 2 full seasons of Garrett's tenure, I don't see a difference. The talent is here - it is just underperforming. The team leaders of Romo and Ware still make too many dumb plays (Romo with his interceptions - although not all his fault) and Ware with his false starts. They should be setting the example in playing smart, mistake-free football, but they are given a pass. I love both players but they need to play smarter.

People talk about the Cowboys lacking leadership. I believe the Cowboys have leaders in the classic sense of players that take control in the locker room. However, what I think the Cowboys lack is players that lead on the playing field. Granted, both Romo and Ware play at a very high level, but they don't lead in not making dumb plays. If Romo and Ware can get away with making mistakes, what message does that send to the team?

I just don't see the current Cowboys coaching staff as molding this team into individuals that play smart, mistake-free football. Perhaps, like Belichick, Garrett will do better with a fresh start in a new team, which allows Garrett to remake himself. I don't think his current team respects and/or fears Garrett enough to play the type of mistake-free football games that will get Dallas to the promised land. The Cowboys have the talent - the Cowboys just don't play smart football -- and that is on the coach.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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