The Dallas Cowboys defense is so barren of talent that it will take more than a year to rebuild. Hopefully that’s obvious to even the most casual Cowboys fan.
And, while it may be tempting to focus everything on that side of the ball this off-season, it would be a huge mistake. The Cowboys have the potential to be a team that lines up and controls games with their offense.
But with a scheme that has them locked into this uncreative mediocrity, it’s never going to happen.
Now, I realize that there are plenty who are yelling at this article saying: "Dallas finished 5 in scoring you moron, quit blaming the offense"
In response, let me go with the nuclear option in this debate and blow up your counter arguments right now.
Dallas finished 32nd in the league in offensive plays from scrimmage, 26th in time of possession, 25th in third down conversion percentage and 16th in yards from scrimmage. Dallas did finish 5th in scoring, but they finished 25th in offensive point share percentage, meaning that defensive take away’s and special teams played a huge role in their scoring this year.
What these numbers tell you is that Dallas didn’t do as well on offense as you might have thought. They were massively assisted by Dwayne Harris and other aspects of their special teams and they got a much bigger boost from their defensive take away’s then you may have realized.
You can't turn around your defense if you aren’t helping them out with an offensive scheme that is creative enough to mount long scoring drives and give your defense a rest. I will prove this in a minute with numbers that will astound you.
As bad as Dallas defense was, and it was often putrid, they got zero help from their offense on far too many occasions this year. Yes, Romo was often clutch at critical moments, but this offense wasn’t consistent about driving the ball and keeping it away from the other team.
Let me be clear. Dallas has a good offense. But they could be absolutely great and they need to be great to get back into the playoffs.
When you are 25th in third down conversion percentage it tells you that teams know your tendencies and how to stop you and get the ball back to their offense. When you’re dead last in total scrimmage plays run on offense, it tells you that you’re wearing your defense out and exposing them. Having said that, the talent problem is certainly greatest on defense and that is where personnel efforts must be focused.
Dallas should spend all of it’s draft picks on defense this year and promote Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator while gently retiring Monte Kiffin or moving him into a consultant role.
But Dallas must also bring in a fiery, creative offensive coordinator to revamp this offense and squeeze every drop of productivity out of these high-octane players. This is the way back to the playoffs. Remember: 25th in third down conversion percentage is really, really bad. You can’t blame that one on the defense.
With Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray, it’s shocking that Dallas couldn’t convert on third down any better this year than 35 percent of the time. Ranking 25th put them in the following company: Texans, 21st; Cardinals, 22nd; Dophins, 23rd; Browns, 24th; Raiders, 26th.
As critical as winning on third down is to rest your defense, extend drives, burn clock and score points --it is absolutely gross incompetence on the part of the offensive coaching staff that they couldn’t finish in the top ten (or top 20 ) with their line up of offensive weapons and an over-performing offensive line—all matched up against an easy schedule in a dreadful division.
Garrett needs to accept a new, high-powered offensive coordinator or be dismissed. Enough of the "by committee" approach.
For one final argument in favor of a new coordinator, I present ,the San Diego Chargers. Despite playing in a division with the Broncos and Chiefs, the Chargers are in the playoffs. They ditched the Coryelle-Turner offensive system that Dallas runs (the only team in the NFL that still runs it) and went a different direction.
And the Chargers led the NFL in time of possession this year, holding the ball a whopping 33:17, despite being tied with Dallas for 31st in the league in yards-per-play allowed on defense and being 23rd in the yards-per-game allowed. Marinate on that a minute, I'll wait.
What that tells you is that their defense really pretty much sucks, but their offense hogs the ball and reduces the amount of scoring other teams can do, despite the obscene number of yards they surrender on every play.
Dallas' defense allowed teams to score at a rate of .93 points per minute in 2013, if you discard the overtime games from their time of possession average, as teamrankings.com does.
Here is the Astounding Part
At .93 points per minute, if nothing else changed except that Dallas revamped their offense and held onto the ball as much as the Chargers did this year, Dallas' defense would have surrendered an average of 20.6 points per game, instead of 27, ranking them 8th, right behind the Cardinals and Chiefs defenses and four spots ahead of the Chargers defense. That would have netted them at least two more wins this year and earned them the NFC East title and a first round bye in the playoffs.
That would have been the result even with the exact same defense. That is the impact that time of possession, when it is truly maxed out, can have for a team.
If you have been as dissapointed and perplexed by Garrett/Callahan's refusal to run the ball more this year, here is simple explanation: They had no confidence in their ability to dial up a creative enough play to feel good about converting on third down. The numbers support this, don't they? So they tried to avoid third down by passing on running downs and converting on first or second down. Which of course destroys ones ability to dominate time of possession and utilize an elite running back.
You see, if you're going to run the ball on first and second, you have to have a coordinator with the creativity to get receivers the ball past the sticks on third down. Garrett and Callahan have proven they don't have what it takes.
Imagine what this team could do if found a dynamic offensive coordinator and actually improved the defense with an infusion of young talent and the promotion of Marinelli.
As always, rec this if you like it and let me hear from you in the comments. Thanks for reading.