I'm a big fan of Bob Sturm's Decoding Linehan series. The fact that he's done it consistently over so many seasons also gives him context that many commentators lack. To say that Bob is blown away by this version of the Cowboys' offense would be a gross understatement!
The Cowboys in 2016 are doing things that are officially absurd. And you can qualify it as being special "since they have a rookie QB" or you can evaluate the way that rookie QB is doing things (including pointing out where he could be doing better), but the bottom line remains the bottom line. This offense is doing things that are historic by Cowboys standards. And, I don't need to tell you that the Cowboys have a historical standard that is about as high as it gets.
The standard throughout the NFL for ages has been 400 yards total offense. This is what teams aim for, in that you will seldom get there. But if you get to 400 yards, you should have 28 points on the board (or so) and you should be able to win those games. In other words, if you get to 400 yards, the offense becomes nearly blameless, unless they had a bunch of giveaways in the process.
This offense AVERAGES 400 yards a game, 413 to be exact. They have had 400 yards in 8 consecutive games. That is easily the longest streak in Cowboys history. In fact, 8 is the most any Cowboys team has ever had in an entire season.
He then puts up this chart of 400 yard games over 50 seasons of Cowboys football.
Bob puts this in context.
So, now, let's ask the question, "if this is the best in Cowboys history, where does it rank in NFL history?"
Well, thankfully, somebody already did the work for me. The fantastic Danny Kelly at the Ringer had this yesterday:
"The Cowboys have now racked up 400-plus yards of offense in eight straight games, a feat matched in a single season just twice before in league history: The Broncos did it in 2013 with Peyton Manning at the helm, and the Tom Brady-led Patriots strung together eight 400-plus yard games to start the 2007 season. The difference, of course, is that those two teams were led by arguably the two best quarterbacks to ever play this sport; Manning set an NFL record with 55 touchdowns in 2013, leading Denver to a Super Bowl berth, while Brady tossed 50 scores of his own in 2007, carrying the Pats to a 16-0 regular season and an appearance in the Super Bowl."
I will allow you a moment to collect yourself after reading that. The Cowboys can set NFL history on Thursday in this category.
Pretty amazing. Read the rest of the article too.
Cowboys still lead the Aikman Efficiency Ratings, overall, and on offense.
It has taken awhile to sort out this way, but the teams with the three best records in the NFL – the Cowboys, Patriots and Raiders – are now aligned 1-2-3 atop this week’s Aikman Combined Ratings. It is the 3rd straight week that Dallas has led the Aikman Combined.
The Football Power Index folks, however, remain doubters, as the Cowboys somehow finish fourth, behind New England, Seattle, and Denver.
As a reminder, NFL FPI is a forward-looking power rating designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. In the simplest sense, FPI answers the question, "If two teams met on a neutral field, which one would win and by how many points?" Each team’s rating represents how many points above or below average it is, based on opponent-adjusted measures of offensive, defensive and special teams performance on a per-play basis. Subtracting any two teams’ ratings equates to a predicted point margin between those teams on a neutral field.
Sullivan's takes are always interesting. He has a shout out to Doug Free, and echoes what has been written on BtB about how the Cowboys are zigging with a powerful offensive line and running game while the rest of the NFL is zagging by focusing on passing, but this is the part I liked most.
There are also two kinds of dangerous. In football terms, the team that is razzle-dazzle one minute, ground-and-pound two seconds later and let’s go deep and hope for the best by the fourth quarter, it has no identity. It’s unpredictable, but not in a good way. More like those at their first high school keg party. No one is exactly sure the direction they are going.
Then there’s that other kind of dangerous. The Joe Louis, the Mike Tyson, who walks into the center of the ring and says, "Let’s go. I have no strategy, no semblance of a plan. I’m just going to stand here and hit you until you fall down, and we both know that’s going to happen."
What you are seeing now is the same identity of the 2014 Cowboys. Somehow, someway, with a different quarterback and a bunch of difference faces, Garrett has maintained that mentality. I’m honestly not sure if the Cowboys’ record would be any different right now if they gave the game plan to the opposition the day before kickoff. Everyone more or less knows what’s coming; they just can’t stop it.
Taylor gives numbers to show that it's the balance running and passing, and using all of their weapons that has the Cowboys clicking on all cylinders.
The Cowboys manhandled Baltimore with second-half scoring drives of 10 plays (92 yards), 13 plays (88 yards) and 13 plays (72 yards).
Entering the game, the Ravens had allowed 295.1 yards and 18.7 points per game. The Cowboys gained 417 yards and scored 27 points as they handed Baltimore its worst loss of the season.
"Depending on the game plan and the flow of the game anybody can make a play," said receiver Brice Butler, whose 41-yard grab helped Dallas convert a drive that began first-and-30.
"I was able to catch a ball that sprung the offense a little bit. After that, it felt like we were doing whatever we wanted to do after that."
Against Baltimore, Ezekiel Elliott gained 97 yards on 25 carries. Seven different receivers caught at least two passes, and five players had at least 30 yards receiving.
Six different players converted third downs.
The Cowboys did all of that with just two plays of more than 20 yards, and that's what makes this offense so hard to stop. Quarterback Dak Prescott, for the most part, does what the offense asks him to do.
Even with a 9-1 record, and an historic win streak, it's not time to rest. It's time to beat Washington.
A successful season by many Cowboys fans is defined by the five Super Bowl trophies that reside in the lobby of The Star, the team’s new practice facility, not a nine-game winning streak in the regular season.
"It’s great," Jason Witten said of the winning streak, "but they don’t hang banners after 10 weeks. It’s a testament to this team and the closeness of it and how we work, and that’s really going back a long ways. But we’ve got to continue to play that way moving forward in all three phases."
Darren McFadden is back practicing, ready to do anything to be part of this team. The Cowboys have 21 days to make a decision.
"For me, I’m a ballplayer, man," McFadden said. "Whatever they want me to do, whether it’s just going out on special teams or whatever, hell even if they wanted me to play defense, I would."
Can he rush the passer?
"Oh, yeah, definitely," he said.
On the lighter side of things, it's amazing what makes news sometimes. Apparently, Dak Prescott getting up to throw away his paper cup that missed the trash can has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube.
"I mean, I don't shoot behind my back too much," Prescott said. "I think the garbage can was kind of behind me. It was a little flip back. It still had some ice in it, so it threw off the rotation."
It was about the only throw he missed in the second half on Sunday.