TMQB: Worst of both worlds

“If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

Wooden, John

I feel like we’ve gotten the worst of both worlds from Garrett in the last 2 games. Dallas lost the Detroit game by being too aggressive and they lost the NEP game by not being aggressive enough.

This is one of the more disappointing losses for me. Going into this game I thought Dallas would have a large advantage passing the ball against NEP. For the 1st half of the game Garrett didn't capitalize on that advantage. The turnover battle broke the right way and Dallas was able to successfully pass against NEP, but Dallas was held back by Garrett's lack of aggressiveness. I can live with losses like the Detroit game because I think that's the right process overall. But stay aggressive. Nothing I hate more than losing from cautious play.

I've said before I'll never question aggressive playcalling. To quote Jimmy Johnson

When you go up against 600 pound gorilla, you don't hit him lightly, you hit him with all you got

Jimmy Johnson’s aggressiveness is the ideal. Sometimes people forget the 1987 Fiesta bowl and that Jimmy Johnson's aggressiveness cost Miami a national championship (that was the year an overwhelming Miami squad lost to Penn State when Vinny Testeverde threw five picks). If Johnson had reined in his aggressiveness after 1987 he never would've won 2 super Bowls in Dallas . That's why I'm okay with aggressiveness. You take the good with the bad. It will cost you some games but I think that’s what it takes to win championships.

Net pass YPA

The table below summarizes Dallas’s net pass YPA for the period from 2007-2010.

Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
2007 7.4 2nd 5.4 6th
2008 6.6 11th 5.3 5th
2009 7.3 6th 5.9 11th
2010 6.7 7th 6.8 28th

As a basis for comparison, summarized in the table below are the maximum, median, average, and minimum net pass YPA for the NFL 2010 season

Net Pass YPA – NFL All Teams 2010 Season
Offense Defense
Maximum 7.8 7.5
Median 6.1 6.1
Average 6.2 6.2
Minimum 4.3 5.3

The Cowboys results through week 6 are summarized in the table below.

Dallas Cowboys
Week Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
1 8.2 6.2
2 9.7 4.4
3 6.8 5.8
4 6.7 5.6
5 7 6.1
Season 7.7 4th 5.8 7th

The Darkos results though week 6 are summarized in the table below.

Darko Cowboys
Week Offensive net pass YPA Offensive net pass YPA Rank Defensive net pass YPA Defensive net pass YPA Rank
1 8.7 5.1
2 6.5 4.8
3 8.9 7.7
4 6.6 5.1
5 7.5 5.6
6 4.9 8.3
Season 7.1 10th 6 10th

The Dallas offense produced net pass YPA of 7.0 yards/a. While that is an above average result I was disappointed. The NEP defense is dead last in net pass YPA allowed. When I look at what Dallas was able to do against better defenses, 8.2 YPA against the Jets and 9.7 YPA against SF, I think this game was mildly disappointing considering that Dallas has Austin and Dez healthy and they were going against a weak defense. Even though the NEP didn't generate much pass rush Dallas didn't attempt many deep passes. The big pass plays were mostly the result of YAC (the Dez and Laurent Robinson receptions). Yea, I’m being greedy. I don’t think Garrett needed to let this game be so close though.

On the other side of the ball the defense allowed net pass ypa of 6.1. That's just a tick better than average. Coming in the NEP offense was best in the NFL in net pass YPA. Holding the best offense to below average performance is excellent. Its really been a remarkable turn around on defense. From one of the worst defenses in the league to one of the best with the same players. I really like Rob Ryan's resourcefulness, using Butler as a DT to generate more pass rush for example.

Red zone

OCC wrote about the Cowboys red zone performance. He included the key information.

the Cowboys have oscillated between a top 10 and top 15 position in the league

Oddly, he didn’t include the obvious conclusion.

Dallas has been above average in RZ TD % almost every year Garrett has been OC.

Conclusion: RZ TD% hasn’t been great through 5 games but based on past history it’s likely to be ok and balance out over the course of the season.

Close games: If it’s bad, why does it feel so good to say I told you so

After week 3 ...

Close games are a coin flip. It’s not toughness or attention to detail or any of the other fairy tales that people like to make up about it …. No coach has ever discovered the secret to winning close games, Garrett hasn’t either.

Sean Lee

Advanced NFL stats quick reaction so Sunday's games ...

DAL LB Sean Lee is a monster. The 2nd-year player lead his squad again with 0.35 +WPA, 6.0 +EPA, a 1.5 Tackle Factor, and 5 success plays, including an interception. Lee is leading all LBs in many defensive categories this year.

I keep pinching myself. Lee can’t be this good … but he is.

Game Notes

I really don't like worrying about balance

-#89 holding, #68 holding, getting really sick of 2nd & 9

-this reminds me of the Detroit game a few years ago when Detroit was missing 2 or 3 of their top corners. I was hoping that Garrett would come out and carpet bomb Detroit. Instead he kept running the ball and made the game a lot closer than it needed to be.

The table below summarizes all of the 1st down plays. You can see that the running plays produced an average gain of approximately 2 yards. The passing plays produced an average gain of approximately 7.5 yards. Yea, I would've liked to see Garrett come out throwing instead of waiting until the 2nd half to get aggressive. You can see that Garrett went run heavy in the 1st half. It wasn't until late in the 2nd quarter that he started airing it out (with good results).

Play Index Description Result
2 2. 1-10-DAL 20(15:00) 28-F.Jones left tackle to DAL 24 for 4 yards (74-K.Love, 24-K.Arrington). PENALTY on DAL-89-J.Phillips, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 20 - No Play. (10)
5 5. 1-10-DAL 36(13:26) 28-F.Jones left guard to DAL 40 for 4 yards (59-G.Guyton; 25-P.Chung). 4
26 26. 1-10-DAL 37(6:56) 28-F.Jones up the middle to DAL 39 for 2 yards (75-V.Wilfork; 55-B.Spikes). 2
34 34. 1-10-NE 23(4:47) 28-F.Jones right end to NE 22 for 1 yard (32-D.McCourty). 1
44 44. 1-10-NE 32(3:09) 28-F.Jones right end to NE 31 for 1 yard (25-P.Chung; 44-J.Ihedigbo). 1
52: END OF Q1
91 37. 1-10-NE 45(5:28) 29-D.Murray right tackle to NE 37 for 8 yards (25-P.Chung). 8
95 41. 1-10-NE 13(2:33) 29-D.Murray right tackle to NE 9 for 4 yards (59-G.Guyton, 44-J.Ihedigbo). 4
98 44. 1-2-NE 2(1:17) 29-D.Murray right guard to NE 1 for 1 yard (94-S.Ellis, 59-G.Guyton). 1
105: END OF Q2
121 15. 1-10-NE 44(9:47) (No Huddle) 29-D.Murray left tackle to NE 42 for 2 yards (93-A.Carter, 55-B.Spikes). PENALTY on NE, Illegal Substitution, 5 yards, enforced at NE 44 - No Play. 2
151 45. 1-10-DAL 23(:30) 29-D.Murray right end to DAL 25 for 2 yards (55-B.Spikes). 2
152: END OF Q3
156 3. 1-10-DAL 33(14:24) (No Huddle) 29-D.Murray left end ran ob at DAL 41 for 8 yards. 8
192 39. 1-10-DAL 28(3:36) (Shotgun) 29-D.Murray up the middle to DAL 26 for -2 yards (44-J.Ihedigbo, 59-G.Guyton). (2)
Average for runs 1.8
3 3. 1-20-DAL 10(14:40) 9-T.Romo pass short right to 19-M.Austin pushed ob at DAL 14 for 4 yards (32-D.McCourty). 4
23 23. 1-10-DAL 24(8:36) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 19-M.Austin to DAL 31 for 7 yards (59-G.Guyton; 50-R.Ninkovich). 7
47 47. 1-10-NE 21(1:14) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete short right to 85-K.Ogletree. -
52: END OF Q1
68 14. 1-10-DAL 20(12:07) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 19-M.Austin pushed ob at DAL 29 for 9 yards (25-P.Chung; 23-L.Bodden). 9
70 16. 1-10-DAL 31(11:00) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete short right to 28-F.Jones (50-R.Ninkovich). -
88 34. 1-10-DAL 7(7:28) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 28-F.Jones to DAL 14 for 7 yards (59-G.Guyton). 7
90 36. 1-10-DAL 22(6:11) 9-T.Romo pass short right to 88-D.Bryant to NE 45 for 33 yards (55-B.Spikes). 33
93 39. 1-10-NE 34(4:08) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short right to 23-T.Choice to NE 29 for 5 yards (24-K.Arrington). 5
105: END OF Q2
117 11. 1-10-DAL 19(11:48) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to 23-T.Choice (75-V.Wilfork). -
120 14. 1-10-DAL 44(10:20) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 19-M.Austin to NE 44 for 12 yards (50-R.Ninkovich). 12
122 16. 1-5-NE 39(9:32) 9-T.Romo pass deep left to 19-M.Austin to NE 19 for 20 yards (24-K.Arrington). NE-24-K.Arrington was injured during the play. 20
123 17. 1-10-NE 19(8:48) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short middle to 80-M.Bennett to NE 11 for 8 yards (55-B.Spikes, 25-P.Chung). 8
126 20. 1-7-NE 7(7:12) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete short right to 29-D.Murray. -
152: END OF Q3
158 5. 1-10-NE 45(13:17) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete short left to 19-M.Austin. -
174 21. 1-10-DAL 32(9:08) 9-T.Romo pass short right to 29-D.Murray pushed ob at DAL 39 for 7 yards (59-G.Guyton). 7
177 24. 1-10-DAL 46(7:39) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete deep middle to 80-M.Bennett [92-A.Haynesworth]. -
179 26. 1-10-NE 22(7:00) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short middle to 85-K.Ogletree to NE 10 for 12 yards (25-P.Chung). NE-25-P.Chung was injured during the play. 12
180 27. 1-10-NE 10(6:25) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 80-M.Bennett to NE 5 for 5 yards (93-A.Carter, 44-J.Ihedigbo). DAL-61-B.Nagy was injured during the play. 5
216 63. 1-10-DAL 20(:22) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short right to 81-L.Robinson to DAL 31 for 11 yards (24-K.Arrington). 11
218 65. 1-10-DAL 31(:14) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass deep middle to 82-J.Witten to NE 49 for 20 yards (27-A.Molden). 20
220 67. 1-10-NE 49(:07) (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass incomplete deep left to 88-D.Bryant. -
Average for passes 7.6

-the drops are back for Austin

-John Phillips forces a fumble on a kickoff return. Great effort. I don't think that forced fumble was practiced. I don't think that Newman's interception was practiced either.

-I'd be happy to never see Choice again

-2nd & 1 runs = waste of opportunity. Throw bombs.

-I might be happy to never see Joe Decamilis again. Offsides on a kickoff, block in the back, running into the kicker, ineligible man downfield

-can Dez tie his pants already so they don't keep getting pulled off

-Nagy denying Wilfork an interception

-I really like the 4 wide receiver formations. With the field spread out I feel like interceptions are less likely (don’t know if that’s true … just feels that way … I relax a little when I see the spread formations).

-#29: try not to run into #68

-#9 doing a nice job catching NEP with 12 men on the field

-#77: those are some inopportune sacks you're allowing

-#67: you really smack people on screens

-#93: roughing the passer, running into the kicker, knocking out #43 last week.

-#56: that's a heckuva strip. I have to take a second to talk about this because I've been skeptical about the idea that you can practice turnovers. We finally get a turnover that is of the practiced variety. So kudos to Garrett. I think the effect is pretty small, as we've seen the vast majority of turnovers are of the non-practiced variety, but Dallas did produce a practiced turnover at a critical point in the game.

-Still loving the rush line of Ware, Spencer, Butler, + whoever. Butler doing a good job as a defensive tackle even when NEP tries to take advantage by running the ball. #57 great play against the run getting a tackle in the backfield.

-Does everyone like the Murray pick now? Not that Murray’s been spectacular but with Felix’s annual injury Dallas actually needs a RB.

-#61 gets overpowered by Haynesworth. Just a quick thought on #61. I see a lot of people saying that he is terrible. My guess is that what people see is #61 getting overpowered in pass protection and that's what sticks in their memory. But I wonder if not getting overpowered in pass protection really matters that much for offensive lineman. It's obviously bad but there are other facets of the game. In an NFL with ever more complex blitzes it seems that a lineman with the agility to pick up a blitzing linebacker or defensive back will have increased benefit. There's obviously a trade-off. The smaller more agile lineman that's better at picking up secondary blitzers may not be as good at handling power rushers. But the NFL is moving toward smaller secondary blitzers.

-#81, come on. If you outrun Guyton that's a touchdown. Great downfield blocking by #80. Great effort. For all the criticism #80 gets he really plays hard. #80 was 40 yards downfield erasing defenders.

-#85, way to go HAM across the middle

-why do teams throw hail mary’s? the success rate must be like 1%. There must be a play that would give you a better chance than 1%. Here’s the type of play I mean. Instead of throwing it into the endzone, throw it to Dez around the 20 and let Dez try and run it in with the option to throw a cross field lateral. Hail marys seem like giving up.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.