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Quarter season CSI

Dallas is a quarter of the way through the season. Let's look at the results and what patterns are emerging.

Note: I focus on offensive pass efficiency and defensive pass efficiency (I explain why here)

The table below summarizes offensive pass efficiency and defensive pass efficiency from 2007 through the first quarter of 2012.

Dallas pass offensive and defensive pass efficiency

Off NY/A

O Rank

D NY/A

D Rank

Diff

2007

7.4

2nd

5.4

7th

2.0

2008

6.6

11th

5.3

5th

1.3

2009

7.3

6th

5.9

12th

1.4

2010

6.7

7th

6.8

28th

(0.1)

2011

6.9

11th

6.7

23rd

0.2

2012

6.8

9th

6.8

25th

-

2013

5.9

T- 21st

6.7

23rd

(0.8)

1. Who murdered the offense? I'm thinking the new guy who used to work for the other Ryan is the prime suspect.

Garrett/Romo has been incredibly consistent. Their performance over the last 6 years is one of the better runs in the NFL. Other teams come in higher in single years but there are only a handful of teams that consistently rank this well year in year out. In 2013 they're down almost a yard and have gone from top 10 to bottom 10.

Since very little has changed other than the OC, Callahan has to be a prime suspect. You have virtually the same offense that's been consistent for 6 straight years, you get improved OL play, and the results get worse?

This is actually an excellent setup for understanding cause and effect which is typically difficult. Normally it'd be hard to know if the players aren't that good, making Callahan look bad or Callahan is making good players look bad. Here, in trying to determine cause/effect we benefit from most of the variables being held constant (same QB, RB, WR, TE, and improved OL) yielding a clear comparison of offense w/ Garrett vs. offense w/ Callahan. For example if you believe Romo's the cause, why now? Why is Romo different from what he's been the last 6 years?

Frankly I'm surprised this isn't the issue being talked about. Dallas' one strength (passing O) has been neutralized so far.

Note regarding the inevitable criticism that Garrett's offense didn't score points. Quick rebuttal. The NFL's points scored stat includes defensive scores, ST scores, and is materially affected by field position and defensive performance (how many possessions the defense gets you). Points scored does not capture the offense's performance. It captures a smorgasbord of offense, defense, & special teams.

If you want to criticize the red zone performance, cool. There's a statistic that isolates the offenses' performance. Red zone TD %. Please use it.

http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/red-zone-scoring-pct

2. The defensive coaches changed, unfortunately the results haven't.

I'm not surprised. Dallas brought back mostly the same players. I like the Kiffin hire but in general I think there's only so much coaches can do in the short term (and yes, I realize that's kinda logically inconsistent with what I said above but it that case the offense had a record of being good). Furthermore, injuries to the DL have amplified what was already a problem.

Just to touch on how that affects the overall strategy. I don't think Dallas can afford to be conservative on offense. A conservative offense may be ok if it's backed up by a great defense. But a conservative offense paired with a weak pass D will just lose a lot.

3. Do you see the perpetrator in the lineup?

This team looks like the pre-Wade Phillips Texans to me. If you remember, the Texans were a perennial disappointment, hanging around .500 ball. They had marquee players on offense (Andre Johnson, Arian Foster). They even had a couple big name player on defense (Mario Williams and Cushing). You heard those names and it seemed like they should win. But as good as the offense was it was offset by a bad defense.

Doesn't that sound like Dallas? Marquee offensive players in Dez, Austin, Romo, Demarco. An elite pass rusher and MLB in Ware and Lee respectively.

We know what happened. In 2010, the last year before Wade, Houston had an insane offense. Great OL. Great rushing game, Foster had 1600 yards. Great passing game with Andre Johnson. 6th most efficient passing attack in the NFL. This was going to be the year they finally broke through. Final record ... 6-10. They bring in Wade, sort out the, defense and they've gone 10-6, 12-4 the last two years.

4. Making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001)

If Dallas has the #1 OL in the NFL and also goes 8-8 can the phrase 'Dallas will only go as far as the OL takes them' be retired and replaced with 'Dallas will only go as far as the positive difference between Off pass YPA and Def pass YPA take them?'

As a final note, that negative 0.8 NY/A difference is scary. It's not a hard and fast rule but that equates to something like a 6-10 record.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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