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Cowboys offense passed the ball a lot against the Packers, but why?

The Cowboys deciding to throw the ball so often last week has observers scratching their heads.

Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Cowboys taking a loss from a Green Bay Packers squad, who prior to this past game was in the midst of a five-game losing skid, is inexcusable. Knowing the talent that this Cowboys team possesses, a performance like Week 10 should raise the alarm regarding the hopes of a deep playoff run in 2022. Sure, there were some glimpses of that elite offense we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the past handful of years, but in total it looked quite discombobulated.

The normally reliable Cowboys defense this year looked like a shell of itself this past week, but that doesn’t excuse the offense from playing quality football. At this stage in the season, the only thing that is certain is the special teams unit’s consistency. Other than that it is quite shaky, and in need of some fine-tuning.

Last week’s hot topic discussed the glaring hole on run defense, and the Packers exploited it. This week it seems like the perfect time to discuss how the Cowboys had an over-reliance on the passing game.

Historically speaking, throwing the ball too much typically leads to less success in the win/loss column

With how the Cowboys offense is currently assembled, there should not be any games where Dak Prescott comes close to 50 pass attempts in a game. In Week 10, Prescott threw the ball 46 times which is well above his career average of 33.89 attempts per game. When a quarterback throws the ball as much as Dak Prescott did this past week, typically bad things will end up happening.

Historically speaking, when a quarterback throws the ball 50 times or more, that team typically loses much more often than they win. There are only six players in NFL history with a winning record when throwing the ball that much. Of those six, three are active quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Derek Carr. The success rate for quarterbacks throwing the ball that much is very low.

For the Cowboys to be successful going forward in the pass game, Dak Prescott needs to throw the ball less often and much closer to the 30 attempts mark each game. To be quite frank, it doesn’t appear that many teams are afraid of the Cowboys pass-catching group which makes it less sensible to throw the ball as often as Prescott did in Week 10. There are two particular things that go hand-in-hand to justify throwing the ball at a high clip, upgrading the position by bringing in a game breaking wide out, and if the wide receiver group as a whole is shredding the opposing secondary. Other than that, it’s best to throw the ball less and have a much more balanced attack on offense.

Balance... you gotta have balance on offense

Speaking of being more balanced on offense, when the ground attack last week featuring Tony Pollard and Malik Davis is averaging nearly six yards a tote, then there is no reason to pass the ball 46 times. Yet, when the game ended there it was, 46 attempts by Dak Prescott. There is no reason for it.

Taking a more in-depth look at the ground game, Tony Pollard rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per carry and also added a score. Undrafted rookie Malik Davis carried the ball just five times, but added 38 yards on those carries for an average of 7.6 yards. Davis also looked the part in pass protection when called upon. Don’t be surprised if Davis gets a little more run down the stretch this season, and more importantly gains a bigger role in 2023. His contributions thus far in his rookie season cannot go unnoticed, and it has been a welcomed surprise given the potential shake up in the backfield heading into next season.

Regardless of how things pan out after this season, the Cowboys need to run the ball at a higher clip. Running the ball more often, and pairing it up with a quality passing attack, will create a well-balanced offense which is key in order to be consistently good each year. It also important to be well-balanced on offense in order to keep the defense on its toes. Well-balanced offenses make it much harder on the defense because if the team can pass and run well, then stopping one or the other isn’t necessarily going to prevent the offense from putting points on the board. If the offense can find its balance, pairing that up with a quality defense and special teams unit will make the Cowboys a tough team to beat.

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