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2022 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dallas looking good after second straight win

The Cowboys are playing really good football again.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Cowboys have rattled off two straight wins to improve to 2-1 after downing the Giants 23-16. Cooper Rush got his third win in as many career starts, and actually looked really good under center. The running game and defense picked up right where they left off last week against the Bengals.

All in all, the Cowboys have put together two very encouraging efforts in the last two weeks, especially compared to how bad they looked in Week 1. There will be a healthy debate on how much stock can be put into these two games, which is why these analytics roundups matter. As a reminder, strength of schedule for DVOA metrics has not kicked in yet.

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 -0.4% 15th 28th -3.8% 22nd
Defense -14.2% 8th 6th -5.0% 6th
Special Teams 4.6% 4th 9th 1.9% 4th
Overall 18.5% 6th 15th 3.1% 14th

Well well well, look at that. The Cowboys rank sixth in the NFL in overall efficiency. Sixth! Their defense and special teams are both in the top ten, while the offense is just above the league average. Looking at DAVE, which is a combination of DVOA-based preseason projections and actual DVOA grade thus far, the Cowboys are well ahead of their preseason expectations so far.

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Week 1-3, courtesy of

In looking at the EPA-based team tiers, the Cowboys are pretty much right in the middle of the league. This graphic points out what many have probably felt through these first three games: the 2022 season is pretty light on heavyweight teams. The Bills are alone at the top, but they did just lose to the Dolphins, further underscoring how much parity we’ve seen so far.

That puts the Cowboys’ sixth place DVOA ranking in perspective a bit, too. The Cowboys have looked good, not great, these last two weeks and that’s how pretty much the rest of the NFL has been too.

It’s once again worth noting that the Buccaneers lead the NFL in defensive EPA/play; they have yet to allow 20 points in a game and shut out Aaron Rodgers over his final nine drives during Sunday’s game. It’s looking more and more like that Week 1 performance was more about Tampa Bay’s defense than Dallas’ offense.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA -0.4% 15th
Pass DVOA 4.3% 17th
Run DVOA 16.2% 4th

Speaking of the Dallas offense, they’re doing exactly what they want to do. Cooper Rush had a great night (more on him in a moment) and that bumped the passing attack’s efficiency up 10 spots in the rankings, swinging from a -14.5% last week to 4.3% this week. That’s a big increase that should continue when Michael Gallup returns.

But the biggest story is how efficient the running game has been. Only three teams have a more efficient rushing offense right now, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone; 30% of the Cowboys’ run plays on Monday went for either a first down or touchdown. Time will tell how sustainable this is, but right now the Cowboys’ offseason devotion to the running game is paying off.

Cooper Rush’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 73.7 6th
EPA/play 0.090 13th
CPOE -1.5 19th
DVOA 18.8% 8th
DYAR 146 12th

Okay, let’s talk about Cooper Rush: he’s pretty good. Not only that, he looked noticeably better this week. That’s to be somewhat expected, as the Giants secondary is worse than the Bengals’, but Rush’s week-to-week improvement was real. And he’s sixth in the league in QBR and 13th in EPA/play, which is no small feat.

Rush is also right around the top 10 in both DVOA (value per play) and DYAR (total value). In other words, the Cowboys are winning, in part, because of Rush rather than in spite of him. That’s rare in a backup quarterback; shoot, it’s rare for a starting quarterback if you’re an NFC East team not located in Dallas. One area of concern is Rush’s accuracy - he’s got a negative completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) - but he’s trending up in that regard as well. Overall, this is very encouraging for Dallas.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Adjusted Line Yards 4.94 8th
RB Yards 4.91 8th
Adjusted Sack Rate 5.5% 10th
Pass Block Win Rate 44% 32nd
Run Block Win Rate 78% 1st

A big reason for the Cowboys’ offensive success has been their offensive line, which is opening up holes in the run game and buying Rush time to find the open man. Going against a defense that blitzes at a very high rate, the Cowboys kept Rush clean: zero sacks and just one hit all night.

The Cowboys remain at the bottom of the league in pass block win rate, but they allowed just four pressures on Monday night. Notably, Jason Peters did not allow a single pressure on his limited snaps, as did Terence Steele. Matt Farniok, whose poor performance in pass protection has been the driving factor in the low team pass block win rate grade, was only responsible for one pressure against New York.

More notably, this offensive line remains best in the NFL in run block win rate and eighth in both adjusted line yards and actual rushing yards. Considering how much of a concerted effort this front office made in the offseason to embrace a run-first mentality, seeing these kinds of metrics at this point are encouraging.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -14.2% 8th
Pass Defense DVOA -21.4% 6th
Run Defense DVOA -3.5% 19th
Pass Rush Win Rate 52% 4th
Run Stop Win Rate 26% 32nd

The Cowboys defense actually took a small step backwards in their efficiency grade this week, though it almost certainly has to do with drawing more penalties this week and allowing a big touchdown run to Saquon Barkley that came courtesy of a missed tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Run defense is still this group’s bugaboo. After a strong showing against Cincinnati last week, Dallas regressed in that area this week. They dropped to 19th in run defense DVOA and dead last in run stop win rate.

On the other hand, pass defense is clearly not a problem for Dan Quinn’s group. They may not be the ballhawks they were last year, but this Dallas defense is replacing gaudy takeaway numbers with gaudy sack numbers. Daniel Jones was sacked five times and pressured a whopping 21 times. For context, both Cooper Rush and Tom Brady have seen 21 pressures on the whole year, and Jones was pressured that much in one game.

Alas, not all was perfect for Dallas. Micah Parsons, who played Monday night through an illness, lost his pass rush win rate crown to alternate-reality-Cowboys-star Von Miller. Parsons’ 36% pass rush win rate is now just the second best among all defenders. He still leads the NFL in both sacks and pressures though.

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 21 13 61.9% 79.5 11.7 93 57
Anthony Brown 28 18 64.3% 98.5 10.1 156 52
Jourdan Lewis 15 13 86.7% 108.6 3.3 32 119
Jayron Kearse 1 1 100.0% 118.7 19.0 19 1
Malik Hooker 3 2 66.7% 91.0 17.3 12 12
Donovan Wilson 7 4 57.1% 22.6 9.6 5 12
Micah Parsons 0 0 0.0% N/A N/A N/A N/A
Leighton Vander Esch 9 7 77.8% 86.1 0.2 -3 45
Jabril Cox 0 0 0.0% N/A N/A N/A N/A
Anthony Barr 7 4 57.1% 65.2 3.3 1 25

In terms of coverage, Trevon Diggs keeps showing massive strides in actual coverage skills, as opposed to just flashing elite ball skills with maximum risk. Anthony Brown keeps getting picked on too, but he’s not giving up big plays despite a high amount of targets.

Jourdan Lewis is teetering pretty close to becoming a problem, though. The slot corner is coming off a great year in 2021, but has thus far been taken advantage of in three straight weeks. Offenses have targeting him on very quick, short throws and then beating him after the catch with regularity. Maybe it’s a case of bad matchups, but this is something to keep an eye on going forward.

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