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2022 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dak Prescott starting to dominate

Advanced stats show the Dallas Cowboys are becoming a complete team.

Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Cowboys enjoyed a ton of offensive success this week, putting up the highest point total of any team in any game all year en route to a 49-29 win over the Bears. Dak Prescott looked sharp and Tony Pollard ran for three touchdowns with Ezekiel Elliott out. Oh, and Micah Parsons scored his first touchdown.

So where are the Cowboys sitting in the advanced analytics now? Spoiler alert: it looks good. With strength of schedule adjustments for DVOA-related metrics sitting at 70% strength, we’re starting to get a good idea of how this team is playing relative to the rest of the league.

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 5.3% 12th 18th 4.7% 10th
Defense -18.2% 3rd 2nd -11.4% 2nd
Special Teams 4.3% 2nd 2nd 2.9% 3rd
Overall 27.8% 3rd 3rd 19.0% 3rd

The Cowboys remain third in overall efficiency, although their actual grade increased from 24.1% to 27.8%. That’s a sizable jump, and it has a lot to do with how much better the offense performed this week. The defense and special teams remain top three units, which is no surprise with how they’ve been playing.

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-8, courtesy of

As predicted in last week’s analytics roundup, the Cowboys are starting to drift to the right on these EPA-based team tiers. That’s a reflection of their offense improving since Prescott’s return. Now, they're only slightly below the league average in offensive EPA/play. In terms of total EPA, the Cowboys are now fifth in the league, just slightly ahead of the 49ers.

To get a better understanding of how much Prescott has boosted this team though, the Cowboys are third in total EPA over the last two weeks. There are obvious sample size issues with looking at something like that, but it does underscore the idea that the Cowboys are one of the NFL’s best with Prescott back under center.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 5.3% 12th
Pass DVOA 10.9% 17th
Run DVOA 13.3% 2nd

Any time an offense scores 40+ points in a game, the numbers are going to go up. The Cowboys were surgical on offense, reaching the endzone on each of their first four drives of the game. The Cowboys likely won’t be able to repeat that kind of success, but they only need to get close to it. They’re now just outside the top ten in offensive efficiency.

As good as Prescott was, though, the run game was more impressive. Pollard had a day to remember, and undrafted rookie Malik Davis saw success too. As a result, the Cowboys’ rush DVOA grade more than doubled, moving them up to second place. It will be interesting to see how that changes when Ezekiel Elliott returns to the lineup.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency Since Coming Back

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 71.1 4th
EPA/play 0.507 2nd
CPOE 11.9 2nd
DVOA - -
DYAR - -

As with last week, we’re only looking at Prescott’s performance since returning for sample size reasons. That means no DVOA or DYAR scores for now, but it’ll change in due time.

Simply put, Prescott has been lights out these past two games. It obviously helps that he was so good against the Bears, but Prescott posted strong results last week too. It’s not enough to justify any arguments about Prescott being an elite quarterback - we need to see more this season first - but it’s good to know that the quarterback has been slinging it so far.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Adjusted Line Yards 4.76 9th
RB Yards 4.91 7th
Adjusted Sack Rate 5.2% 7th
Pass Block Win Rate 44% 32nd
Run Block Win Rate 74% 6th

This offensive line continues to be one of the best at opening up running lanes for their backs. They’re in the top ten in rushing yards, adjusted line yards, and run block win rate. Rookie Tyler Smith has been especially dominant in run blocking, and he’s now tied for third among all tackles in run block win rate.

The line had one of their better days in pass protection, too. The only sack on the day was charged to running back Malik Davis. The five linemen combined to give up just four pressures on the day. Connor McGovern had a goose egg in that category for the second straight week. Meanwhile, Tyler Biadasz hasn’t allowed a pressure in three weeks and has yet to give up a sack.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -18.2% 3rd
Pass Defense DVOA -26.6% 3rd
Run Defense DVOA -7.9% 13th
Pass Rush Win Rate 53% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 28% 29th

This just in: Micah Parsons is still incredible. He’s tied for second in the league in both sacks and pressures, and still leads all defenders in pass rush win rate. The Cowboys managed to get to Justin Fields four times, and the team still leads the league in both sacks and pressure rate. They’re very, very good against the pass.

If you’re wondering why the Cowboys run defense only dropped one spot after getting carved up by the Bears, let’s examine it. The Bears were already operating one of the top rushing attacks in the game, so strength of schedule adjustments have something to do with it. But there’s also the fact that nearly 46% of the Bears’ rushing yards in that game came after Parsons’ fumble recovery touchdown, which put Dallas up by three scores. In other words, those were garbage time rush yards, and didn’t really hurt this defense as much as the raw box score would suggest.

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 45 28 62.2% 77.4 11.0 180 213
Anthony Brown 66 39 59.1% 90.8 10.3 251 135
Jourdan Lewis 26 19 73.1% 74.2 6.2 51 119
DaRon Bland 13 10 76.9% 60.4 6.0 33 49
Jayron Kearse 12 10 83.3% 105.2 6.8 68 43
Malik Hooker 11 9 81.8% 56.8 8.0 39 35
Donovan Wilson 25 15 60.0% 64.6 9.1 35 60
Israel Mukuamu 6 5 83.3% 86.8 0.8 4 25
Micah Parsons 8 6 75.0% 141.1 1.4 -3 74
Leighton Vander Esch 19 15 78.9% 94.7 3.6 34 94
Anthony Barr 17 13 76.5% 87.6 3.8 35 54

DaRon Bland once again held up well in place of Jourdan Lewis. He gave up completions on all four of his targets against the shifty Darnell Mooney, but also had a big pass deflection on what would’ve been a touchdown pass to Dante Pettis. It will be interesting to see how his numbers compare to Lewis’ as the season goes on.

In other news, Israel Mukuamu filled in for Malik Hooker this week and performed admirably. Hooker has been having a phenomenal year so far, and he’ll slide right back into that starting role when he’s healthy, but it’s a testament to the depth of this secondary that Mukuamu came in with little dropoff in quality.

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