Now that I have your attention, let me start this post with a warning! If you are not in the DeCastro for President Camp, then stop reading now because conversion is very likely by the end of this smash mouth manifesto.
With the draft approaching the battle rages on between those who believe the biggest area of need is on defense and those who see the weakest link on the offensive side of the ball. Have you stopped to consider that the best way to improve the defense might be to via the offense?
The NFL has evolved into a passer friendly league where rule changes limit defense’s ability to slow down 4 minute and 2 minute offenses late in games. The most effective way to slow down late game comebacks by high octane spread formations is not the wide 9, the zone blitz, or even a pair of elite edge rushers.
The most effective way to slow down the modern passing offense and protect late game leads is good old fashioned hide the kids, clear out the furniture, turn your class ring around and take your watch off because it’s time to whip some ass smash mouth football. You know what I’m talking about.
Let me take you for a quick ride down memory lane to back in the day when Tui, The Kitchen, Ray Ray, Larry, and Big E laid back alley beat downs on their opponents to the tune of 2200 yards rushing and 29 rushing touchdowns in 1995. Yes, you read that right…29 rushing touchdowns in one 16 game season.
Now back to reality where we are currently dealing with an offensive line that managed a unimaginable 5 rushing touchdowns the entire season. That’s right, ugh, cough, 0.3 touchdowns per game for 29th in the league.
Want to know why Dallas struggles so much in the red zone? The answer might have something to do with a 6/1 pass to run touchdown ratio. Ever wonder why a team with a 4000 yard passer with the 4th best passer rating in the league can do no better than 21.7 points per game? Do 0.3 rushing touchdowns per game ring a bell? And then there is the ever present question about losing close games. Try this one on for size. Great teams run the ball late in games, break the other team’s will, keeps their quarterback pinned on the sideline, and put their cleats on the other team’s throat and joke them out like Royce Gracie in a steel cage.
It’s no mystery that the 2011 season saw an inordinate number of late game comebacks. I had a hard time finding stats for the whole season, but I did find an article from week 6 of the 2011 season that reported a record number of late game comebacks. Through 5 weeks of the 2011 season, there were 18 double digit comebacks. The previous record was 16 set in 1989. 11 of those comebacks erased 14 points leads, and 4 games saw 20 point leads eliminated with late game rallies. So what gives? Why are NFL defenses having such a difficult time protecting leads? It’s the modern offense and the offensive rules. In today’s passing league no lead is safe.
Count me among the legions that are not sold on the firm of Livings, Costa, and Bernadeau. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys need better representation if they are going to improve their red zone balance and efficiency, get better at protecting leads and closing out games, and take the next step towards being a bona fide contender.
The area where this team has the greatest room for improvement is the offensive line, and in this new high powered passing league where defenses find it harder and harder to protect late game leads, the ability to pound the rock late in games is more valuable than ever, maybe even more important than rushing the passer. The player who can provide the highest return on investment and who has the potential to make the most impact on the Cowboys ability to shut down oppossing quarterbacks late in the game might not be a defensive player at all. It could very well be David DeCastro.