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2023 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dak Prescott leading team to elite levels

It is great to see the Cowboys finding their form as December approaches.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Cowboys are coming off yet another huge win over the Giants, and it’s hard to know in games like this whether it’s a sign of how good this team is or how bad the other team is. Well, in this case, it’s a bit of both. Still, winning in the manner that the Cowboys did is pretty impressive.

That’s why the analytics roundup is helpful, because it offers more context to the overall efficiency of the team. One important thing to note: with Week 10 having come and gone, the strength of schedule adjustments for all DVOA-based grades are now operating at full strength.

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
Offense 5.6% 10th 17th 7.0% 10th
Defense -12.6% 4th 4th -12.8% 4th
Special Teams 2.3% 9th 3rd 2.6% 5th
Overall 20.6% 5th 9th 22.5% 5th

The Cowboys are really good. Fifth best in the league by DVOA standards. In fact, they’re now one of just two teams to rank in the top 10 in offensive, defense, and special teams DVOA. The one other team? The reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

The Cowboys have been on a tear since the bye week in terms of efficiency, but they’re still third in the conference. The Lions are one spot ahead of them, while the 49ers sit at second in the league after snapping a three-game losing streak. Still, top five isn’t bad.

2023 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-10, courtesy of

The EPA-based team tiers are a little more kind to the Cowboys, who have seen their star logo jump to the right the last three weeks as the offense begins to take off. The Cowboys are neck-and-neck with the Ravens and Dolphins, two of the hottest teams in the league, while being very close but slightly ahead of the Chiefs.

Of course, the 49ers are still out in front as the best team by total EPA. Still, this is a very good spot to be in, especially considering their next three opponents are quite a bit away on this graph. Even the Eagles and Bills have a bit of distance.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 5.6% 10th
Pass DVOA 23.9% 11th
Run DVOA -10.6% 21st
EPA/Play 0.091 5th
EPA/Dropback 0.195 3rd
EPA/Rush -0.075 14th

The tide is coming in on the Texas Coast, and no defense is safe. Since the bye week, the Cowboys offense has been on a rampage and they hit a new high on Sunday against a Giants defense that had been only slightly below average in recent weeks. Due to that offensive explosion, they’ve now jumped up to 10th in offensive DVOA; they entered the bye week at 18th.

The changes that Mike McCarthy has made to this offense since have been wildly successful. They’ve gotten better in just about every metric each week since the bye. In fact, over the last three weeks the Cowboys rank second in both EPA/play and success rate. This unit is flying high right now.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 72.7 3rd
EPA/play 0.230 2nd
CPOE 5.3 4th
DVOA 17.4% 8th
DYAR 614 8th

A big part of why the offense is doing so well right now is Dak Prescott. Since the bye week, Prescott leads the league in both EPA/play and CPOE by rather wide margins. He’s topped 300 passing yards in each of those three games and is playing the best football of his career right now.

Unlike earlier points in Prescott’s career, where the offense was built around balance and limiting Prescott’s usage, this surge in productivity has coincided with giving him the ball more. The Cowboys upped their early down pass rate from 56.7% before the bye to 62.7% over these last three weeks. McCarthy has put the offense’s fate in Prescott’s hands, and he’s more than delivered.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Pressure Rate 17.4% 6th
Adjusted Sack Rate 7.6% 22nd
Blown Block Rate 2.71% 12th
Pass Block Win Rate 54% 18th
Run Block Win Rate 72% 7th
Adjusted Line Yards 4.33 8th

The offensive line took a big step forward this week in many ways. The run game has seen gradual improvements, the largest of which came this week, and Dallas jumped back into the top 10 in adjusted line yards. They also put up a goose egg in the sack column a week after giving up seven sacks. In particular, Terence Steele yielded just two pressures all game, a big bounce back for him.

One thing that should be addressed, though, is the performance of Tyler Biadasz. While much of the attention right now is on Steele, and understandably so, Biadasz has been struggling this year. He’s only had one game this year, in Week 2, with zero pressures allowed; in each of the last two seasons, Biadasz has had eight games with zero pressures. He’s also second on the team in pressures and sacks, which is less than ideal when playing in the final year of a contract as Biadasz is.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -12.6% 4th
Pass Defense DVOA -8.6% 5th
Run Defense DVOA -17.9% 8th
Pass Rush Win Rate 58% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 29% 27th
EPA/Play -0.115 3rd
EPA/Dropback Allowed -0.105 5th
EPA/Rush Allowed -0.132 11th

Good news to all you nervous Cowboys fans: the defense did not get eaten up by undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito. Any concern about looking susceptible against a guy making his first career start were quickly put to rest. The Giants punted on six of their first eight offensive possessions, with the two exceptions being a turnover on downs and a kneel down right before halftime.

Something that should be encouraging: Micah Parsons was nowhere to be seen in the box score, and his four pressures on the day were the second fewest he’s had in a game all year. Even with Parsons largely being a non-factor, the defense managed to pressure DeVito on 43.2% of his dropbacks and sack him five times. That’s certainly a good sign.

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 43 23 53.5% 84.8 10.2 218 136
DaRon Bland 43 21 48.8% 32.8 11.6 166 60
Jourdan Lewis 23 15 65.2% 134.1 8.1 124 86
Jayron Kearse 22 19 86.4% 83.0 6.9 120 66
Malik Hooker 9 7 77.8% 118.8 11.1 78 76
Donovan Wilson 13 11 84.6% 134.1 5.7 35 52
Leighton Vander Esch 7 5 71.4% 87.2 0.4 -1 44
Markquese Bell 24 19 79.2% 93.9 1.1 9 148
Damone Clark 17 15 88.2% 91.9 -0.3 -8 111

The Cowboys got some bad news on Monday when it was revealed that Leighton Vander Esch is most likely done for the year with his injury sustained in Week 5, and it could turn out to be career-ending. While that would be a depressing end to a promising career, the Cowboys have been able to survive and even thrive in his absence thanks in large part to the stellar play of Markquese Bell.

Bell’s 79.2% completion rate allowed and 93.9 passer rating allowed are solid marks for a linebacker, let alone one who hadn’t even been playing the position a couple months ago. Losing a player like Vander Esch is difficult to manage, but the Cowboys have gotten lucky with Bell.

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