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How NFC East offenses rate after the first quarter of the 2017 season

A quick look at the season’s quarter mark

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Earlier this week we looked at how all offenses rank in the NFL. Today we’ll take a quick look at the Cowboys and their division rivals.

Overall offense

Note: the average numbers here are for the league, not for the division.

Three of the division’s four teams are above average in both points and yards. The Eagles have performed significantly better than Dallas and Washington while the Giants woes scoring points stand out in stark contrast.

Looking at number of plays run and yards per play we see some eye-opening results. The Eagles have run 34 more plays than the Cowboys (who are exactly average). This shows the Eagles are controlling the ball.

In terms of yards per play, again, Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington are all above average. Washington, however, generated 0.4 more yards per play than either the Cowboys or Eagles and are a 0.7 yards above average. This indicates Washington has a potent offense. The Giants, meanwhile, are below average but not by much.

Running game

Some surprising results when looking at the running game:

  • Dallas is below average in rushing attempts. Dallas has ranked in the top five in rushing attempts each of the last three seasons. It’s the identity of the team. This number must improve for Dallas to reach its goals this season.
  • Both Philadelphia and Washington with impressive numbers in terms of attempts, total yards and yards per attempt. Three of the four NFC East teams could potentially have very good running games.
  • There is a top-five rushing attack in the NFC East, it just isn’t the Cowboys. Philadelphia, in fact, ranks third in rushing yards and fourth in yards per attempt. Since running for a measly 58 yards in the team’s opener against Washington they’ve run for 107, 193 and 214 yards. The two-headed attack of LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood has proven very good.
  • Not a surprise: the Giants abysmal rushing numbers. They don’t run the ball much and don’t run well when they do. Their 247 total rushing yards is barely half of the league average and 335 yards below the Eagles (that’s 84 yards per game). The Giants’ troubles on offense can be traced to their complete ineptness running the ball.

Passing game

A couple observations on overall passing results:

  • Dallas and Philadelphia throw and complete virtually the same number of passes, but the Eagles have generated 82 more yards.
  • The Giants sling the ball around, averaging 41 passes per game.
  • All four teams are above average in total passing yards.

The team’s passing efficiency results reveal a couple surprising notes:

  • Note the Eagles barely rank better than the Cowboys in terms of yards per attempt. As noted above, both teams throw the ball about the same number of times and the Eagles have gained more passing yards so how is this possible? It’s because these net yards per passing attempt also account for yards lost due to sacks. This indicates Dallas has done a better job of protecting the quarterback than the Eagles. Sack numbers support this as Carson Wentz has been sacked 12 times (three per game) while Dak Prescott has been sacked only six times.
  • Washington’s 7.3 net yards per attempt ranks fourth overall in the league and is a full yard better than either Dallas or Philadelphia.
  • Washington’s Cousins also rates high (fourth) in terms of touchdown percentage, as does Prescott (seventh). This is the one area Dak has been good in 2017. It’s also an area where Wentz has struggled (20th).
  • Cousins has also done a good job avoiding interceptions; his 0.8% rate is sixth in the league. Prescott has seen his rate jump from 1.2% in 2016 to 2.1% in 2017. Note this is still below average. Prescott hasn’t been bad, just not as good as he was last year.
  • Again, the Giants are terrible. They are below average in all three metrics. A non-existent running game no doubt plays a role in these numbers.

Finally, the NFL’s passer rating and ESPN’s QBR numbers both support the above results. Cousins has been terrific this year. The average quarterback rating is somewhere around 92 this year, which means both Prescott and Wentz (and Manning) have been below average quarterbacks in terms of throwing the ball.

QBR numbers account for game situation and running plays by quarterbacks and Prescott fares better here. I think many fans forget just how much Dak contributes to the team’s offensive success with his legs either on designed runs, roll-outs or ad-libbed scrambles. In fact, I think NFL fans in general don’t appreciate the benefit a mobile quarterback has over an immobile quarterback.

Still, Prescott’s numbers are significantly below his 2017 overall QBR number (78.8). Wentz, by comparison, has improved from below average (49.4) in 2016 to his current 62.5 number.

Note Cousins’ QBR ranking is far below his quarterback rating results. The primary reason for this is he’s had some bad performances at key points in games. He threw a fourth-quarter red zone interception in week 1 against the Eagles when a field goal would have tied the game. That’s largely been the story of Cousins’ career: puts up good numbers but doesn’t play his best at key times.

So there you have it. Which offense do you think will be the best throughout the 2017 season?


Which NFCEast offense will be the best throughout the season?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    (172 votes)
  • 60%
    (396 votes)
  • 11%
    (76 votes)
  • 1%
    New York (haha)
    (9 votes)
653 votes total Vote Now

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