clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dallas in solid position as they enter bye week

This week’s analytics roundup looks kindly upon the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Cowboys did what they needed to do - come away with a road win over the Chargers in Los Angeles. It was a sloppy game, with penalties galore and a few bad plays in all three phases of the game, but a win is a win. That said, how much did this win help the Cowboys in their quest to be the best team in the NFL?

Welcome to this week’s analytics roundup, where we break that exact question down for you. One quick note before getting started: we are now in our second week of all DVOA grades having adjustments for quality of opponent, though it is still not yet at full strength. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank DAVE DAVE Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank DAVE DAVE Rank
Offense -5.5% 18th 19th 3.0% 12th
Defense -14.3% 4th 8th -8.3% 4th
Special Teams 0.4 16th 15th 0.3 13th
Overall 9.2% 11th 12th 11.6% 8th

All in all, this is positive movement for the Cowboys. Their offense and defense both moved up several spots in their respective rankings, and the team as a whole moved up to 11th in total DVOA. That’s only an increase by one spot, but it’s at least trending in the right direction.

Special teams moved down one spot, and that’s well deserved. They surrendered a pretty big punt return early in the game, which set up the Chargers for a rather easy touchdown drive, and they also had a muffed punt that set up the Chargers’ other touchdown drive of the night. Both of those drives started in Dallas territory; the Chargers’ remaining eight drives yielded a total of 4.2 yards per play, two red zone trips, and just three points. The special teams unit played a shockingly large role in making this game as close as it was.

2023 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-6, courtesy of

The EPA-based team tiers have the Cowboys in the correct quadrant and, truthfully, in pretty good shape. The Dolphins are kind of breaking the chart here, and even the 49ers and Bills are a bit ridiculous in how far away they are from the rest of the crowd.

Still, Dallas is sixth in total EPA/play, just narrowly behind the surging Lions. This metric has them third in the NFC and close to being second; the Eagles, Rams, and Seahawks are all clustered together for a distant fourth place behind the Cowboys, which bodes well for Dallas with all three of those teams on their schedule this year.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA -5.5% 18th
Pass DVOA 11.1% 17th
Run DVOA -15.7% 25th
EPA/Play 0.022 10th
EPA/Dropback 0.103 8th
EPA/Rush -0.090 15th

The Cowboys offense made a modest improvement against a pretty bad Chargers defense. In Week 6 alone, they were fourth in offensive EPA/play and third in EPA/dropback. The issue is they ranked 23rd in EPA/carry. Looking at the chart, it’s clear to see that the run game is what’s really holding this offense back right now.

The passing game hasn’t been perfect, but the run game is abysmal right now. The Cowboys are in the bottom quartile in second-level runs (5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage) and open field runs (10+ yards past the line of scrimmage) and Tony Pollard has -8 rushing yards over expectation (RYOE) so far this year; he was in the top 10 in RYOE each of the last two years. This run game is broken right now, and the Cowboys coaches need to spend their bye week looking for a solution.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 63.3 7th
EPA/play 0.118 7th
CPOE 2.5 14th
DVOA 4.4% 10th
DYAR 211 12th

Dak Prescott had a crazy good game. He completed 70% of his passes and totaled 312 yards and two touchdowns between the air and ground. Prescott’s 0.217 EPA/play was so good that it ranked third among all quarterbacks in Week 6, well ahead of players like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts.

On the year, this great game helped Prescott out in the various statistical categories we track. The only category where he dropped in the rankings was his CPOE, and that was largely impacted by the seven incompletions Prescott had when throwing to Michael Gallup. All in all, this was exactly the kind of bounce back performance Prescott needed, and a good reminder of how great he can be even when things around him aren’t going so well.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Pressure Rate 17.1% 6th
Adjusted Sack Rate 7.7% 21st
Blown Block Rate 2.42% 11th
Pass Block Win Rate 56% 15th
Run Block Win Rate 72% 9th
Adjusted Line Yards 4.11 15th

Speaking of things around Prescott not going so well, let’s talk about the offensive line. Through the first four weeks, they were one of the better units in the NFL, with Prescott never being pressured on more than 32% of his dropbacks. In each the last two weeks, Prescott has been pressured on 40% or more of his dropbacks. That’s especially problematic when you consider these last two weeks are the only weeks in which the full starting five has suited up on the offensive line.

The struggles haven’t just come in pass protection, though. This offensive line has also been struggling in the run game, and their steep drop in blown block rate (dropping four spots in one week) mostly comes from blown blocks in the run game. The issues upfront have to be problem number one to address in the bye week.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -14.3% 4th
Pass Defense DVOA -12.6% 4th
Run Defense DVOA -16.4% 11th
Pass Rush Win Rate 60% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 30% 19th
EPA/Play -0.148 4th
EPA/Dropback Allowed -0.124 5th
EPA/Rush Allowed -0.186 6th

As alluded to earlier, the Dallas defense played well against a very good Chargers offense. In fact, they were the first defense to hold Kellen Moore’s group to less than 20 points this year, and 14 of the 17 points they did score came with a short field.

The pass rush had a big impact as well, totaling 21 pressures in the game and producing the highest single-game pressure rate that Justin Herbert has seen this season. That’s notable because Herbert’s two touchdown passes on the day came from a clean pocket, while his game-sealing interception (along with 10 of his 15 incompletions) came under pressure.

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 8 2 25.0% 1.0 15.9 6 20
Stephon Gilmore 30 14 46.7% 71.1 11.9 173 84
DaRon Bland 27 13 48.1% 22.7 9.1 87 43
Jayron Kearse 16 13 81.3% 79.9 8.1 98 53
Jourdan Lewis 15 10 66.7% 136.9 7.9 71 72
Malik Hooker 8 6 75.0% 116.7 12.5 78 70
Donovan Wilson 9 8 88.9% 134.3 5.3 30 36
Leighton Vander Esch 7 5 71.4% 87.2 0.4 -1 44
Markquese Bell 13 11 84.6% 94.2 0.5 10 76
Damone Clark 13 11 84.6% 81.7 0.2 0 47
Juanyeh Thomas 3 1 33.3% 42.4 1.7 -5 10

This was a good game for the Cowboys’ two outside cornerbacks. DaRon Bland was targeted eight times and only gave up three completions, breaking up two passes and very nearly intercepting one of them. Stephon Gilmore was targeted seven times and also only gave up three completions, and of course made the game-sealing interception.

Jourdan Lewis, on the other hand, continued to struggle. He gave up completions on all three of his targets, all to a different receiver, and surrendered one of the two touchdowns on the night. Lewis’ 136.9 passer rating allowed is the worst figure on the team, and it also ranks as the seventh highest among all corners in the league with at least 10 targets. The Cowboys will need improved play from Lewis out of the slot to continue improving their pass defense.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys