If you're a frequent reader of this site, by now you've been introduced to two advanced metrics known as WPA and EPA. Based on mounds and mounds of statistical evidence, every down, distance and game situation has inherent value towards the goal of scoring (EP- Expected Points) and winning (WP- Win Probability). As the results of each individual play changes the scenario, the difference between the original value and the new value is measured in EPA and WPA.
Brian Burke and the team at ANS have assigned these values to individual positions and groups for the entire 2013 season, and as such, have formed their own "All-Pro" team based on the results.
The Offensive Line of the Year is another easy one. Dallas. The DAL o-line allowed only 79.5 -EPA to opposing front-sevens. Second best was DEN at 49.9 -EPA, and the Broncos have a QB that gets rid of the ball at light speed. Keep in mind that the league average is exactly zero -EPA. The DAL o-line was also 2nd in WPA, and league-best in both run -EPA and pass -EPA. That tells you something.
To interpret, when calculating the EPA for defenses, the Front 7 of Dallas' opponents were far and away the least successful in making impactful plays. It wasn't really close, in fact. One might want to use these metrics to argue against using high-round draft picks on additional linemen. Then again, one might witness the way Denver's O-line got pushed around in the Super Bowl and say the team shouldn't rest on their laurels.
Speaking of that championship game man-handling, our friend Mike Fisher checks in with some important takeaways that can benefit Dallas in their quest to return to the top of the food chain. He cites roster-building methods, coaching methods and finding a home field advantage... somewhere.
So "atmosphere'' isn't everything. But Seattle has that distance and Denver has that elevation and Dallas has ... "SkyMirror''?
If there is a way to make opulence intimidating, the Cowboys - 5-3 at home this past season - should examine it. If there is a way to re-emphasize the draft as the top way to acquire talent, the Cowboys should try it. If there is a way to let coaches coach without the foolishness of ownership dabbling in X's and O's, the Cowboys should do it.
Let coaches coach? What a novel concept. Bryan Broaddus checks in and amongst the topics he covers is what he sees as the difference coming for the defense with Rod Marinelli taking over. I'll admit, I've been pretty shocked to see some media and fan takes that proclaim things such as "Rod doesn't escape blame in this historically bad defense. It was his just as much as Kiffin's."
Uh, no, it wasn't. BB articulates why not.
Marinelli and the other coaches were not going to step on the toes of Kiffin and what he wanted to do scheme wise, that just was not their style. I believe that you will see a more aggressive approach from Marinelli when it comes to attacking offenses. His defenses while he was with the Bears, were this way. His front seven played a huge role in how he called the game. You will still see some two deep schemes but I also feel like you will see even more of the single high packages that they went to in the second half of the season in Dallas.
Single-high safety requires a centerfielder; Dallas doesn't have one. Yet.
But they do have one of these guys.
Bryant, speaking to TMZ Sports, was asked if he was asked if he would consider leaving Dallas.
"Hell no," Bryant said. "I don't even think about leaving Dallas. I'm Dallas forever."
I'll just let Michael speak for himself here.
Let's be real here. We're talking about one or two plays here and there in three or four games is the difference between being 12-4 and 8-8. The Cowboys could have easily been 12-4 instead of 8-8. (DeMarcus) Ware, I love the sacks. I'm with Charles Haley in the back, and I was saying, you know, there is no way we're going to make a drive and score and we go up six points, five points or whatever, I don't even worry about it. There is no way you're going to bring your offense back on this field and go through three third downs before Chucky hits you in the mouth. He ain't going for it. It ain't going to happen. Don't get me with the first quarter sacks, I want them too. But I need them in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Ed Jones says he likes what he sees from Ware when healthy; just that the defensive star wasn't that.
"He doesn't have to tell me because I'm watching him: He's hurting. He's had injuries. He's not that impact player that he was a few years ago. And I know that's due to injures because I know he's prepared mentally and I know the effort is there, but when you're hurt you can't change it. I'm just hoping that whatever it is, he gets healthy so he can be that impact player."
Finally, the Pacific Northwest hasn't been too kind to the Cowboys of late, but the schedule has them visiting Seattle in 2014. Could they be the opening night opponent for Seattle? I doubt it, because it's normally reserved for a playoff team, but who knows. My money is on the Packers.
On another note, here's King's take on former Cowboys star Charles Haley and whether or not he deserves inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
6. Now for the case of Charles Haley. I strongly believe in him, because I think he's the most violent pass-rusher I have covered. By that I mean he had some of the Deacon Jones viciousness to him, a fearsome combination of moves, and he has the five Super Bowl rings, which is significant, of course. I cannot speak for the group and wouldn't intend to, but I have always felt what hurts his candidacy is as good a rusher as he was, he only averaged 8.4 sacks per regular-season. I believe he tilted the field when he played, and sometimes it didn't result in sacks for him; it resulted in sacks for others, like Jim Jeffcoat when Haley was in Dallas.
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