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2023 Cowboys analytics roundup: Big win has Dallas soaring ahead of trip to Philadelphia

The Cowboys seem to be rounding into form after a great offensive showing against Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Cowboys are back, and they returned from their bye week with a vengeance, blowing out the Rams 43-20 and handing Sean McVay’s team their most lopsided loss since 2019. The defense and special teams both scored points, and the offense showed real signs of life after some uneven performances to start the year.

So what does it all mean? Let’s dive into the analytics to see where the Cowboys rank in a number of efficiency categories. Something to note: with the NFL season hitting its halfway point, next week’s analytics roundup will feature weighted DVOA in place of DAVE, which is a combination of DVOA-based preseason expectations and actual performance this year.

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 -2.5% 17th 18th 3.6% 12th
Defense -16.5% 3rd 4th -9.8% 3rd
Special Teams 2.5% 6th 16th 1.5 6th
Overall 16.5% 8th 11th 14.8% 7th

The Cowboys saw positive movement across the board this week, rising in all three phases of the game. Their special teams saw the biggest jump, moving up 10 spots, but a blocked punt safety, big punt return, and a 58-yard field goal will do that.

The team moves up to eighth in total DVOA, and their DAVE total has them in seventh. So they’re only slightly behind their preseason expectations at this point, but the Cowboys are still in a very good spot. Worth pointing out: the Cowboys moved up two spots to eighth, while the Eagles dropped two spots to ninth in total DVOA. That suggests a really even matchup this coming Sunday.

2023 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-8, courtesy of

The EPA-based team tiers also reflect a pretty good standing for the Cowboys. They’re currently fourth in total EPA/play, just slightly ahead of the Ravens. It’s worth noting that the Ravens lead the league in DVOA by a pretty wide margin, so that’s esteemed company to be in. Also, the Eagles are seventh in total EPA/play and significantly behind Dallas defensively.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA -2.5% 17th
Pass DVOA 14.6% 13th
Run DVOA -14.5% 23rd
EPA/Play 0.047 6th
EPA/Dropback 0.141 7th
EPA/Rush -0.092 15th

Just about everything the Cowboys offense did on Sunday was perfect. They used significantly more motion, took more deep shots, scored twice as many touchdowns as they did field goals, and their overall efficiency was better off for it. The Cowboys finished fifth in both EPA/play and success rate in Week 8, a darn good day at the office.

They improved all across the board offensively, though by varying margins. The pass game jumped four spots in DVOA ranking, a sizable increase, but the run game only moved up two spots. It was a better game overall for the run game, but there’s still work to be done, especially when running between the tackles.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 65.3 7th
EPA/play 0.164 5th
CPOE 3.8 10th
DVOA 8.9% 12th
DYAR 320 12th

Dak Prescott had a heck of a game. He hit 300+ yards for the first time this year and threw four touchdowns. Only three quarterbacks had a higher EPA/play or CPOE than Prescott this week.

He did have the one interception, though it came on a tipped pass. In fact, Pro Football Focus didn’t even chart that play as a turnover worthy play, as Prescott threw zero in this game. He did, however, uncork the deep ball with three big time throws and five attempts over 20 yards downfield, three of them resulting in touchdowns.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Pressure Rate 15.5% T-3rd
Adjusted Sack Rate 8.0% 20th
Blown Block Rate 2.42% 11th
Pass Block Win Rate 54% 17th
Run Block Win Rate 72% 8th
Adjusted Line Yards 4.16 14th

Tyron Smith became a last-second inactive in this one after some optimism that he’d play. Chuma Edoga made his fifth start of the year and struggled, giving up two pressures and a sack. Edoga wasn’t the only one either, as both Zack Martin and Tyler Biadasz allowed a sack on the day.

Yet, the Cowboys remain near the top of the league in pressure rate despite ranking very low in adjusted sack rate. In short, the offensive line isn’t allowing many pressures but when they do, those pressures are turning into sacks at a high rate. That’s even with Prescott having the sixth-lowest time to throw, which is less than ideal.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -16.5% 3rd
Pass Defense DVOA -16.6% 3rd
Run Defense DVOA -16.5% 9th
Pass Rush Win Rate 59% 2nd
Run Stop Win Rate 30% 23rd
EPA/Play -0.150 3rd
EPA/Dropback Allowed -0.146 4th
EPA/Rush Allowed -0.157 7th

The Dallas defense has settled back into a groove after their terrible game against the 49ers, and the efficiency metrics reflect that. They’re third in defensive DVOA, behind just the Ravens and Browns, both of whom are currently operating at unprecedented levels of DVOA grades. For context, Dallas’ -16.5% DVOA grade is higher right now than it has been in either of the last two seasons under Dan Quinn.

There’s no guarantee that will stay at such a high rate, but it does provide valuable context that this defense is performing even better than they have in recent years. That’s a good thing to be able to say ahead of a matchup with the Eagles.

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 36 18 50.0% 74.3 11.0 187 117
DaRon Bland 36 17 47.2% 22.6 9.3 125 54
Jourdan Lewis 19 12 63.2% 131.1 7.9 90 78
Jayron Kearse 18 15 83.3% 82.4 7.8 109 59
Malik Hooker 8 6 75.0% 116.7 12.5 78 70
Donovan Wilson 11 9 81.8% 125.8 6.5 32 44
Leighton Vander Esch 7 5 71.4% 87.2 0.4 -1 44
Markquese Bell 18 14 77.8% 89.4 1.7 11 87
Damone Clark 15 13 86.7% 91.9 -0.5 -10 101
Juanyeh Thomas 3 1 33.3% 42.4 1.7 -5 10

There was a lot of consternation over the Cowboys’ lack of activity at the trade deadline, but the analytics don’t really point to a glaring hole that needed to be addressed. However, if there was one area to try and bolster, it would have to be the slot corner spot. Jourdan Lewis has continued to struggle, and he’s the only starting corner to allow completions over 50% of the time. He’s also been responsible for three of the Cowboys’ nine passing touchdowns allowed.

That’s not great considering Lewis missed the first game of the year, but it also bears remembering that it was just over a year ago that Lewis suffered a Lisfranc injury that turned out to be career-threatening. Perhaps the team believes Lewis is trending upward right now, which isn’t entirely without merit given his body of work. Even with his struggles, though, the Cowboys secondary has managed to dominate this year.

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