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2022 Cowboys analytics roundup: Where Dallas stands heading into the playoffs

A deep look at Cowboys’ advanced stats at the end of the regular season.

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

The Cowboys have concluded their regular season and sit at 12-5. It’s the first time they’ve won 12 games in consecutive games this century, yet Dallas still has to travel to Tampa Bay for their first playoff game in a rematch of their season opener.

So where does the team stand? With a full season’s worth of data in the books now, we have one final analytics roundup from the 2022 season before the Cowboys kick their postseason off. Let’s see how they stack up against the rest of the league.

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
Offense 2.9% 15th 14th 3.3% 13th
Defense -13.3% 2nd 2nd -9.4% 6th
Special Teams 1.8% 10th 4th 1.0% 17th
Overall 18.0% 6th 4th 13.7% 7th

The season ended on a sour note against the Commanders, and things were bad on nearly every front. While it’s just one game, it was a very bad performance against a very bad team. That’s enough for the Cowboys to drop two spots to sixth in total team DVOA, and they’re seventh in weighted DVOA that reflects how a team is performing in their most recent games.

Special teams took the biggest hit by far. After the worst special teams performance since John Fassel came to Dallas, that unit dropped from fourth to 10th in special teams DVOA. They’re also 17th in weighted DVOA, highlighting a general downward trend for Fassel’s unit as this season came to a close.

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-18, courtesy of

The EPA-based team tiers also reflect the harsh reality of that Week 18 game. For nearly two months now, Dallas has been clustered among the other five teams in the desirable top right corner, but that loss to the Commanders has created some distance.

Interestingly enough, the Cowboys jump up to third in total EPA/play when looking only at games since Dak Prescott returned from his injury. The Cowboys are slightly ahead of both the Eagles and Bengals over that span, which includes that disastrous regular-season finale.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 2.9% 15th
Pass DVOA 12.8% 13th
Run DVOA 1.2% 10th

It’s easy to forget how bad this offense was before Prescott’s return, but the unit has made strides since he came back. Still, the offense struggled to improve past a certain point, never reaching the top 10 in efficiency and oscillating between in the 12-16 range. They settle in at 15th overall and 13th in weighted DVOA, which seems about right.

That gives the Cowboys the third worst offense by DVOA of any playoff team. Ironically, the only NFC playoff team with a worse offense is Tampa Bay. They’re ranked just one spot behind Dallas, though the Cowboys are 2.5 percentage points better. It’s a pretty steep drop-off from 15 to 16 this year.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 58.3 12th
EPA/play 0.154 8th
CPOE 0.1 18th
DVOA 8.3% 11th
DYAR 526 14th

Alright, let’s get this out of the way: Sunday’s game was easily Prescott’s worst performance of the season. Every week in this analytics roundup, I’ve been making the case for how great Prescott has been when he doesn’t throw picks, but that wasn’t the case this week. Prescott was bad in all facets of the game.

He finishes with a career high in interceptions despite only playing in 12 games. Honest fans know that not all of those interceptions were his fault, but it hurts the team regardless. Combine that with Prescott’s poor performances against the Buccaneers and Commanders, and it’s not surprising to see Prescott rank middle of the pack in most of these metrics we track here.

It really is unfortunate, too, because Prescott had been playing some of the best ball of his career. The interceptions were the only thing that detracted from how great his performance was. A week ago, Prescott actually led the league in EPA/play when discounting turnovers for all quarterbacks. But in a league where people only remember what you’ve done most recently, Prescott left everyone with a genuine stinker of a game.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Adjusted Line Yards 4.38 17th
RB Yards 4.42 17th
Adjusted Sack Rate 4.7% 4th
Pass Block Win Rate 53% 28th
Run Block Win Rate 73% 6th

It’s hard to put too much stock into the offensive line after Week 18, as they were forced to reshuffle the whole left side without Tyler Biadasz. That included Jason Peters playing a full game for the first time all year, and Tyron Smith is still clearly getting acclimated to playing right tackle.

That said, this is consecutive weeks in which the Cowboys struggled to run the ball with any efficiency at all. The run game has been a core piece of this offense’s identity all year, and the offensive line was a big part of that. But they haven’t looked the same since Terence Steele went down, and playing without Biadasz this week exacerbated that.

In terms of pass protection, Biadasz finished the year with the least pressures allowed of any offensive lineman that played on at least half of all dropbacks this season; Zack Martin allowed just one more pressure than Biadasz, but obviously played one more game. Neither Biadasz nor Martin allowed a sack all year either.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -13.3% 2nd
Pass Defense DVOA -11.3% 3rd
Run Defense DVOA -15.7% 5th
Pass Rush Win Rate 52% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 29% 24th

The Cowboys defense has lost a lot of shine in recent weeks, and deservedly so, but things haven’t fallen apart. They’re still one of just two defenses to rank inside the top five in both run defense DVOA and pass defense DVOA. That said, Dallas is sixth in weighted DVOA, reflecting their recent struggles.

The good news is that Dallas is expected to get both Johnathan Hankins and Leighton Vander Esch back for the playoffs. Both players’ injuries coincided with the defense’s statistical decline, so getting them back for the Wild Card game is huge.

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 85 55 64.7% 86.1 9.8 369 304
Anthony Brown 86 46 53.5% 90.7 11.8 412 177
Kelvin Joseph 18 12 66.7% 147.9 14.0 184 35
Nahshon Wright 28 17 60.7% 73.8 12.9 165 77
Jourdan Lewis 26 19 73.1% 74.2 6.2 51 119
DaRon Bland 62 45 72.6% 83.5 6.9 219 193
Jayron Kearse 41 28 68.3% 81.2 5.4 167 152
Malik Hooker 27 20 74.1% 82.9 8.7 145 75
Donovan Wilson 39 20 51.3% 69.0 9.6 96 70
Israel Mukuamu 10 7 70.0% 74.6 8.0 16 33
Micah Parsons 11 9 81.8% 128.0 0.5 -9 91
Leighton Vander Esch 30 24 80.0% 96.4 3.9 87 127
Anthony Barr 25 21 84.0% 115.0 4.6 74 140
Damone Clark 15 13 86.7% 138.5 2.2 25 91

Speaking of Vander Esch, his return will also be a boon for the Cowboys’ pass coverage. Anthony Barr and Damone Clark have become easy targets in coverage, and neither linebacker has excelled in that area this year. Vander Esch’s passer rating allowed of 96.4 is actually 12th best among qualifying linebackers this year; Barr and Clark, on the other hand, are both inside the bottom 15.

The search for CB2 continues, as well. Nahshon Wright has thus far proven to be the most reliable option in Anthony Brown’s place, but Dan Quinn gave Trayvon Mullen plenty of opportunities against Washington. Simply put, it did not go well for Mullen. There are rumblings that Xavier Rhodes - a three-time Pro Bowler added to the practice squad last week - might be active against the Buccaneers.

Whatever the case is, it’s clear that Dallas has struggled without Brown. Often the target of much derision, Brown deserves some credit now. Brown may have given up big plays with a less-than-ideal regularity, but consider how many times he was thrown at: Brown missed the final five games and still finished with the most targets on the team, in addition to seeing the 11th most targets of any cornerback in the NFL. His 53.5% completion rate allowed on the season was still best among corners on this team, which is a big reason why the defense has struggled since losing him.

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