Here's a look back at the Redskins game. By the numbers, of course.
0: Number of interceptions thrown by Dak Prescott in 75 regular season and 68 preseason pass attempts. Incidentally, Prescott also set the NFL record for most passes without an INT in a player's first two games in NFL history. That's how impressive this is. And perhaps a further point of reference: Tony Romo had 121 pass attempts in four games last year and threw seven interceptions.
0: Number of receiving TDs by the Cowboys in the 2016 regular season.
0: Number of passes thrown to Terrance Williams. Williams was on the field for 44 of a possible 68 snaps, but this game turned out to be all about Dez Bryant, and with Bryant getting 12 of 30 pass attempts, there simply weren't that many targets to go around. Fun fact, courtesy of Mark Lane: the Cowboys are now 3-0 when Terrance Williams is not targeted in a game.
1: The number of Washington drives of more than four minutes. You'd think there are a bunch of Chip Kelly acolytes in Washington running that offense. By contrast, five of the nine Cowboys drives (excluding the drive at the end of the second quarter) took longer than four minutes.
3: Total runs by Dak Prescott over two full NFL games, showing either remarkable constraint for a guy billed as a dual-threat QB, or showing that Prescott has mastered the transition to pocket QB much faster and smoother than anybody anticipated. Then again, maybe not running is designed to keep Prescott healthy and the rest of us from ever having to see Mark Sanchez throw a ball for the Cowboys.
4.0: Ezekiel Elliott's yards per attempt on 21 carries. It's not terrible, but it also isn't what Cowboys fans have been led to expect from a fourth-overall pick running behind one of the league's best O-lines. Something is not right yet with the Cowboys' ground game, though the Cowboys did collect eight of their 24 first downs on the ground.
4: The number of "hard scores", or scoring drives that started at the Cowboys' own 25-yard line or farther back. The three TD drives started on Dallas' own 6-yard line, 25-yard line, and 20-yard line respectively, and the first field goal was scored on a drive that started at the 20-yard line. The Cowboys started their second field goal drive on their own 44-yard line. Anything beyond a teams’ own 40-yard line is a "short field".
Driving for 75+ yards and scoring a touchdown is tough. If you get the ball on your opponent's 10-yard line, you're a lot more likely to score than if you get the ball with 75 yards to go.
5: The number of Redskins players that combined for six tackles for loss on the afternoon. Add four sacks allowed and eight hits on the QB, and you've got to wonder how far away the Cowboys O-line is from living up to its "best O-line in the league" billing.
6: Number of points the Redskins scored on short fields. Life gets a lot easier when an offense finds itself in short field positions. Often, like we saw versus the Redskins, these short fields are the result of a takeaway or botched onside kick; bad punts, long punt or kickoff returns, or a missed field goal can also result in short fields. Two things usually happen with a short field: the threat of a score is significantly higher, and the offense often finds itself emotionally charged as a result of the play that set up the short field. As a defense, you don't want any of that, so it's quite remarkable that the Cowboys were able to hold the Redskins to just two field goals on their two short-field possessions.
6: Number of passes defensed by the Cowboys, a total they matched or exceeded in only two games last year: six passes defensed against the Eagles in Week 2 and eight passes defensed in Week 10 against the Buccaneers.
7: The jump in "big plays" versus Week 1. The Cowboys consider any reception of 16 yards or more a "big play". Any run of 12 or more yards falls into the same category. Here's how that changed from Week 1 to Week 2:
|Week 1||Week 2|
|Pass plays >16 yards||1||8|
|Pass plays >12 yards||1||1|
9.7: The Cowboys' YPA on Sunday, a cool 2.1 yards higher than they allowed Kirk Cousins to throw. The difference between offensive and defensive yards per pass attempt correlates strongly to wins and losses. Usually, a YPA differential of +2 is thought to be very good.
50%: The pass/run ratio on Sunday. The Cowboys ran the ball 30 times and threw it 30 times. In 2014, the Cowboys ran on 50.1% of their snaps, so the 2016 Cowboys are pretty close to their successful 2014 blueprint.
11:19: Time elapsed in the first quarter until Dez Bryant was targeted five times, equaling his total targets from the Week 1 game against the Giants. By the end of the game, Bryant had seven receptions on 12 targets for 102 yards.
+19.8: The difference in passer rating between the Cowboys (103.8) and the Redskins (84.0). We know that passer rating differential (PRD), is one of the stats most closely linked to winning in the NFL. And one of the interesting things about PRD is that it can be plugged into a very simple formula to predict win totals in the NFL. The PRD formula (Projected Wins = PRD*0.16+8) has shown a fairly close correlation with the Cowboys' actual wins over the last few years, as the table below illustrates.
Plugging in the +19.8 into the PRD formula suggests the Cowboys played like an 11-win team yesterday. The score may have felt closer (largely due to the Cowboys' apparent preference for field goals over touchdowns), but the Cowboys won the game thanks to a strong passing game.
.466: The Cowboys' record in close games (games decided by seven points or less) since 2014 is 7-8; 4-1 in 2014, 2-6 in 2015, and 1-1 this year.
Our good friend rabblerousr used to make the point that winning close games is really a 50-50 proposition in the NFL. A few teams have a consistent record of outperforming that fact, but most teams win as many as they lose in close games. The really great teams beat the competition by more than seven points on a consistent basis and avoid close games altogether. We'll want to see the Cowboys win a game by more than seven points, the sooner the better.
50%: The Cowboys' third-down efficiency. Last week, the Cowboys were 10-of-17 on third down, against the Redskins they were 6-of-12. Through two weeks, that's a 55% third-down conversion rate, and currently the second-best value in the league. This Cowboys offense is going places, if only they could score regularly in the red zone.
60%: Five trips into the red zone resulted in three TDs. That's a significant improvement over last week's 33% redzone conversion rate. But perhaps even more impressive is what the defense did against the Redskins, allowing only two TDs on six red zone trips.
61%: Kirk Cousin's completion percentage. It may have looked like Cousins was carving up the Cowboys pass defense at will (and he was at times), but a 61% completion percentage is slightly below last year's NFL average of 64%.
73.3%: Dak Prescott's completion percentage. So much for all the accuracy issues occasionally reported during the draft process, and recently dredged up by internet trolls.
80: Number of snaps played by Byron Jones, more than any other Cowboys player. In addition to playing 66 of the 67 defensive snaps, Jones was also in on 14 special teams snaps.
104: As pointed out by our own Joey Ickes, Cole Beasley is currently on pace for 104 catches and 1,120 yards
135: Spot at which Dak Prescott was drafted. How does that happen?
And the final number of the day comes courtesy of our friends from the UK:
Happy Monday #CowboysNation!— UK Cowboys Fans (@UKCowboysFans) September 19, 2016
The countdown to the Bears game is fully underway! Who's excited already? ✭ pic.twitter.com/jfhZtbRvsz