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By the Numbers -- The Running Game

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A short breakdown of the running attack vs. San Diego:

  • Runs left -- 7 attempts, 27 yards, 3.9 yard. average;

  • Runs middle -- 13 attempts, 45 yards, 3.5 yard average;

  • Runs right -- 8 attempts, 30 yards, 3.75 yard average;
  • Pretty consistent averages across the board. Dallas was slightly better running left, but the hard core folks know that the problem the last few years has been the terrible discrepancy between runs left and right, with the average left being good and the runs right being terrible. The key to success will be improving the average on the right side. It's only one game, but it looks promising.

    Game plan notes: The big play we're likely to see more of in the future is the sprint draw. Julius Jones had only three runs longer than ten yards Sunday. One was a sprint draw right on the first play from scrimmage. A second was a sprint draw left in the first quarter on the Cowboys initial TD drive. Dallas also unveiled a slightly modified version of the classic T-formation sweep. The Cowboys stripped it down slightly, pulling only the offside guard, in this case Larry Allen, to lead Julius Jones outside. The play was run once for nine yards. Expect to see it again.

  • Negative runs: 3 for -4 yards;

  • Runs for no gain: 5

  • Runs of 1 to 3 yards: 9 for 18 yards;

  • Runs of 4 to 6 yards: 6 for 32 yards, 1 TD;

  • Runs of 7 yards or better: 5 for 55 yards;

  • Longest run: 13 yards
  • This is what you would expect against a tough run defense that is stacking its front to stop your running back. Dallas ground out the yards, but they were not easy.

    This is What Ball Control Looks Like: When Bill Parcells announced Sean Payton was getting the play calling duties he explained that they had similar philosophies, which centered around controlling the ball. Here are some tendencies from Sunday that bear this out:

  • First down runs: 17 for 63 yards, 3.7 yard average;

  • Second down runs: 9 for 26 yards, 2.9 yard average;

  • Third down runs: 2 for 12 yards, 6.0 yard average;
  • The Cowboys had 27 first down plays against the Chargers. 17 calls were for run and only 10 for the pass. Payton stayed with his run-first tendency even though the Chargers were stuffing Dallas on first down. After Jones 12 yard burst on the Cowboys first play, Dallas had six first down runs for only 10 yards the rest of the first half. Dallas did much better in the second half, getting 9, 9 and a five yard TD run on the first three 3rd quarter 1st-down runs.

    Another huge problem for the '04 Cowboys was third and short. Dallas faced only one down of third and three or less on Sunday. It converted with a six yard Jones run. It seems the best philosophy for third and short is to stay out of them.

    (Note: I'm not including Drew Bledsoe scrambles or sacks. We can debate this, but unless they are planned runs -- and I will probably have some digestion issues if they start rolling #11 out on purpose -- I'm not including them here.)