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2022 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dallas takes a step back despite the win

The numbers say more about the rest of the NFL than the Cowboys

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Welcome to another Cowboys analytics roundup, and with America’s Team on a three game win streak and holding the second best record in the entire NFL, it’s a great week to be a fan. But are the Cowboys as good as their record indicates, or have they just played an easy schedule? Hopefully, the advanced metrics can offer up some clues.

Before we get into all of the analytics and where the Cowboys rank, how about an exciting announcement: for the first time this season, strength of schedule adjustments have kicked in! With four games in the books now, the formula for calculating DVOA now includes adjustments for strength of opponent, which is currently at 40% strength. So let’s see where Dallas ranks:

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week DAVE DAVE Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week DAVE DAVE Rank
Offense 0.7% 17th 15th -3.1% 23rd
Defense -15.3% 5th 8th -6.2% 4th
Special Teams 3.5% 6th 4th 1.9% 6th
Overall 19.6% 6th 6th 5.0% 9th

For the second week in a row, the Cowboys are sixth in the league in overall team efficiency. Only two other NFC teams - the undefeated Eagles and the Buccaneers - are ahead of Dallas, which is eye-opening on the general state of the conference right now. And for the first time all year, the Cowboys offense posted a positive DVOA grade. Baby steps!

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-4, courtesy of

Looking at the EPA-based team tiers also speaks volumes about the rest of the NFL. There are kinda-sorta four teams up near the top and then a smattering of teams all around the middle, with some odd outliers.

As for the Cowboys, their offense is 23rd in EPA/play and hovering right around there in other offensive EPA-based categories. Meanwhile, the defense is eighth in EPA/play and fourth in success rate. It’s very clear what the strength of this team is right now.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 0.7% 17th
Pass DVOA 19.2% 13th
Run DVOA 0.0% 12th

An interesting phenomenon occurred for the Cowboys this week: their DVOA grade improved from -0.4% to 0.7% but they dropped two spots in league-wide efficiency rank. That speaks to how far behind this offense still is despite the fact that they’ve made obvious strides the last month.

The biggest concern for this offense, though, is how the run game disappeared against the Commanders. The Cowboys went from 16.2% rushing DVOA to 0.0% in just one week. That’s a pretty steep dropoff. With their next matchup against the Rams - currently third in run defense DVOA - this might be a sudden concern for Dallas after their run game had been such a strength.

Cooper Rush’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 73.9 4th
EPA/play 0.144 10th
CPOE -3.4 26th
DVOA 27.7% 3rd
DYAR 262 10th

By most metrics, Cooper Rush just keeps getting better. He now ranks in the top 10 in four of the five metrics we look at for quarterback efficiency. But there’s another thing to consider: it’s been a down year across the board for quarterbacks so far. Don’t believe me? Consider that the top 10 in QBR also includes Geno Smith, Jared Goff, and Jacoby Brissett. With all due respect to those players, these current standings don’t exactly pass the eye test.

Rush has also continued to struggle with his accuracy, as evidenced by his completion percentage over expectation (CPOE). He was especially bad this past week, going from -1.5 CPOE to -3.4 against a pretty weak Commanders secondary. And that’s without accounting for the two interceptions Rush threw that were negated by penalties.

Finally, as it relates to any arguments over whether the Cowboys should stick with Rush once Dak Prescott is back, consider this: Rush is 10th in the league right now with a 0.144 EPA/play. Last year, with Prescott going through what many deemed a slump, the quarterback posted an EPA/play of 0.149; that was the second lowest figure in his career, and the worst since Kellen Moore took over the offense. Rush has been good for a backup quarterback, but he has in no way outperformed Prescott yet.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Adjusted Line Yards 4.32 20th
RB Yards 4.1 22nd
Adjusted Sack Rate 4.8% 7th
Pass Block Win Rate 47% 30th
Run Block Win Rate 73% 8th

If you were wondering why the run game fell off this week, look no further than the offensive line. The Commanders stopped the Cowboys’ run plays for a loss or no gain seven times in the game; Dallas had just seven such plays in their previous three games combined. Suffice to say, it was a very bad day for this unit in run blocking, and as a result they’ve been dethroned from the top spot in run block win rate.

On the flip side, the pass protection seems to be getting better. Part of that has to do with Matt Farniok no longer playing a bulk of snaps; the second-year lineman gave up twice as many pressures as rookie Tyler Smith despite playing nearly half the amount of pass plays. Another part of it has to do with Rush getting the ball out quickly, as his 2.6 seconds to throw is the fourth fastest in the NFL.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -15.3% 5th
Pass Defense DVOA -26.1% 5th
Run Defense DVOA 0.4% 25th
Pass Rush Win Rate 56% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 28% 26th

Time for the fun part: this Dallas defense is really, really good. Micah Parsons is second among all defenders in pass rush win rate, and DeMarcus Lawrence is now eighth among edge defenders in pass rush win rate after finally qualifying (he had played too many snaps lined up on the interior to qualify as an EDGE thus far). But they’re not alone: Osa Odighizuwa is now eighth among all interior defensive linemen.

If there’s a cause for concern with this defense, though, it’s once again in run support. Dallas is 25th in run defense DVOA and had another rough week against the Commanders. They’ve also surrendered the sixth most rushing yards in the league. That’s an area of potential concern as the Cowboys face four teams in the next four weeks with productive running games.

Cowboys Pass Coverage

Targets Completions Completion Rate Passer Rating Allowed ADOT When Targeted Air Yards Allowed Yards After Catch
Targets Completions Completion Rate Passer Rating Allowed ADOT When Targeted Air Yards Allowed Yards After Catch
Trevon Diggs 25 14 56.0% 54.9 12.8 93 64
Anthony Brown 44 26 59.1% 91.7 9.6 175 91
Jourdan Lewis 17 13 76.5% 97.9 5.0 46 85
DaRon Bland 8 6 75.0% 52.1 4.8 17 35
Jayron Kearse 1 1 100.0% 118.7 19.0 19 1
Malik Hooker 7 5 71.4% 87.2 10.7 26 17
Donovan Wilson 12 6 50.0% 21.5 11.3 1 26
Israel Mukuamu 4 3 75.0% 83.3 1.5 5 13
Micah Parsons 2 1 50.0% 70.8 0.5 -5 18
Leighton Vander Esch 10 8 80.0% 84.2 0.4 4 38
Anthony Barr 8 5 62.5% 66.7 3.4 3 20

The Cowboys rank fifth in pass defense DVOA and a lot of it has to do with the much-improved play of Trevon Diggs. After being heavily criticized last year for giving up too many yards in order to chase picks, Diggs is currently 49th among all defenders in yards allowed. His 54.9 passer rating allowed is also the 10th best among qualifying cornerbacks. Oh, and he’s tied for third in interceptions while leading the league in passes defensed.

But let’s talk about these safeties too. Malik Hooker has thus far been an unsung hero as a back end eraser in coverage. Hooker has aligned as a deep safety on nearly 85% of snaps for this defense, which has allowed Donovan Wilson to play a wide variety of roles; Wilson has spent most of his time in the box, but frequently alternates between playing deep and on the line of scrimmage as a blitzer. All of this has also helped Israel Mukuamu, who’s filled in nicely for Jayron Kearse as well. The Cowboys must be riding high knowing that they have a group of safeties so talented and so deep.

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