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Cowboys become "Witten-friendly"

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Last season, the Dallas Cowboys had a pathetic rushing offense. The Cowboys averaged 3.56 yards per carry during the 2012 season. Consequently, Dallas ran the ball 53 fewer times in 2012 compared to 2011.

Year

Rush attempts

Rush yards

2012

355

1,265

2011

408

1,807

Dallas gained 542 fewer rushing yards in 2012 than in 2011. Conversely, the Cowboys had a banner year passing the ball.

Year

Pass attempts

Sacks

Pass yards

2012

658

36

4,729

2011

570

39

4,201

The offensive rushing yards lost from 2011 were apparently offset by the passing game, which gained an additional 528 yards in 2012. Dallas dropped back to pass 85 more times in 2012 than in 2011. That led to Dallas running just two more plays a game in 2012.

The addition of Travis Frederick is expected to bolster a historically bad rushing attack. Much has been made of drafting Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams on the second day of the draft. The first three selections have been termed "Romo-friendly". Several writers have postulated that Williams will be Austin's eventual replacement, while Escobar will someday try to take the place of All-World Jason Witten.

In fact, he that shall not be named is hoping that the end is near for The Senator. But that is not necessarily the case.

http://bloggingthebeast.com/2013/04/15/he-may-have-led-all-tight-ends-in-catches-and-yards-last-season-but-does-anybody-really-fear-jason-witten/

Please reflect upon the days of Joe Montana and the 49ers of the 1980's. Instead of running the ball, Bill Walsh utilized the short passing game.

Study Jason Witten's numbers since the season Romo started passing the ball to him (2006). Spend a little extra time on pass length and first downs per pass attempt.

Year

Yards per attempt

Pass length

First downs per pass attempt

2012

6.93

6.63

.373

2011

8.05

7.39

.402

2010

7.83

6.80

.383

2009

8.24

6.63

.384

2008

7.87

7.68

.413

2007

8.06

7.95

.394

2006

8.20

7.81

.402

Take away the uncharacteristic drops that Witten suffered early in the season, and Witten's first downs per pass attempt rises to close to his career average: .392. Remember that Witten struggled in September (only 8 receptions for 76 yards) after lacerating his spleen in the preseason opener.

Further demonstrating that the All-Pro tight end became a substitute for the wretched running game, Witten caught a greater percentage of passes on first and second down in 2012 than his career average with Romo.

Year

Reception ratio 1st down

Reception ratio 1st & 2nd down

2012

.417

.787

2006 - 2011

.371

.723

In 2012, 75.5% of Witten's receptions were on passes between 0 to 10 yards in the air from Romo. Compare that to Jason's career reception average of 66.9% coming from 0-10 yard passes from Tony.

The draft day additions of Escobar and Williams should provide Romo with more targets on Sundays. Drafting Frederick should help the Cowboys' rushing attack considerably. But perhaps the addition of Frederick will mostly benefit Jason Witten by permitting him to return to his traditional downfield role.

After all, nothing would be as "Romo-friendly" as permitting his favorite target to resume his down field role. In gratitude, Witten should grow a beard.

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"W" Stands for "Wish I was a Buckeye"

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Genesis of "The beard"

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