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2023 Cowboys analytics roundup: Cowboys holding strong despite loss

Numbers from last week’s loss are very promising, making the loss all the more difficult.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys lost a nail-biter against the Eagles on the road. Losing a game like that to a team like that is always difficult to handle, but coming that close in a road game against the team with the best record in the league isn’t exactly a disaster.

In fact, it’s about the closest thing there is to a good loss, according to the data. As we dive into the analytics after Week 9, one thing to note: DAVE has been replaced by weighted DVOA, which offers a better picture of how the team has been performing more recently as opposed to throughout the entire year.

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 0.0% 17th 17th -0.2% 18th
Defense -11.9% 4th 3rd -10.0% 6th
Special Teams 2.9% 3rd 6th 3.2 4th
Overall 14.8% 9th 8th 12.9% 9th

The Cowboys drop one spot in total team DVOA, which isn’t terribly surprising after a loss. What is surprising is that they remain one spot ahead of the Eagles in total team DVOA. The offense stayed put at 17th, but their DVOA grade is out of the negatives for the first time all year. That’s reflective of their uptick in offensive efficiency the last two weeks.

Looking at the Cowboys’ weighted DVOA grades, it’s not that far off from their regular DVOA grades. The biggest discrepancy is the defense having performed a little worse in recent weeks, which has to be a little concerning for a team that frequently cites that side of the ball as their identity.

2023 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-9, courtesy of

The EPA-based team tiers find the Cowboys in a dead heat with the Chiefs for the fifth place spot in the league. It’s never a bad thing to be in the same vicinity as the Chiefs, a team that literally used to be in the exact same physical vicinity as the Cowboys are today.

According to total EPA/play numbers, the Cowboys are the second best team in the NFC behind only the 49ers. They’re still ahead of the Eagles, too, who they’ll face again in five weeks. Their four opponents between now and then are, well, not very close to the Cowboys on this chart. That bodes well for Dallas.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 0.0% 17th
Pass DVOA 17.4% 15th
Run DVOA -13.9% 24th
EPA/Play 0.062 6th
EPA/Dropback 0.159 6th
EPA/Rush -0.096 15th

There wasn’t a ton of improvement on offense this week, though much of that has to do with the Cowboys losing in the most high leverage situations. That means the Luke Schoonmaker play, the failed two-point conversion, and coming up short on the final play of the game. All of those plays, contextually speaking, were big negatives for the overall offensive efficiency.

Still, it was a good day for the offense. They’re sixth in EPA/play and fourth in EPA/play over the last two weeks. This offense has been solid all year, but they’ve been considerably better since the bye week. The run game is still lagging behind, but even that has seen some positive movement lately.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 67.5 4th
EPA/play 0.192 5th
CPOE 4.1 9th
DVOA 10.9% 11th
DYAR 422 11th

Dak Prescott was dealing all game long. With the Eagles offense scoring at will until the fourth quarter, Prescott was continually asked to orchestrate scoring drives in high leverage situations, and he delivered. He came close to hitting 400 passing yards on the day, and threw three touchdowns while being an inch away from a fourth.

Due to the back-and-forth nature of this game, Prescott had to throw the ball 44 times, a season high. Despite the high volume of attempts, he completed 65.9% of them and came away with zero turnovers or turnover worthy plays. He also finished the day with the third-highest EPA/play of any quarterback in Week 9. If only it had come in a win.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Pressure Rate 17.4% 6th
Adjusted Sack Rate 8.2% 24th
Blown Block Rate 2.40% 10th
Pass Block Win Rate 52% 20th
Run Block Win Rate 72% 7th
Adjusted Line Yards 4.22 13th

Everyone knows by now about the really rough day that Terence Steele had. What sticks out in these metrics, though, is that Dallas has one of the best pressure rates but one of the worst adjusted sack rates. What that means is that they’re not giving up pressure all that often, but when they do it’s turning into a sack most of the time. And that’s with Prescott having one of the fastest release times in football.

As far as the run game goes, the offensive line’s performance in that avenue has improved somewhat. In consecutive weeks now, they’ve seen an increase in adjusted line yards and run block win rate. Similarly, the Cowboys’ yards per carry has increased in those games too. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but things look to be getting better.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -11.9% 4th
Pass Defense DVOA -7.4% 6th
Run Defense DVOA -17.7% 6th
Pass Rush Win Rate 58% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 29% 28th
EPA/Play -0.101 4th
EPA/Dropback Allowed -0.083 5th
EPA/Rush Allowed -0.128 14th

On paper, the Dallas defense had a solid showing against the Eagles. But the advanced metrics reflect an uncharacteristic performance, giving up touchdowns on four of the Eagles’ first six drives. While the defense made some big plays in the fourth quarter, they dug too deep of a hole in the first three quarters.

All in all, though, this defense is still performing quite well. Their efficiency rankings dropped a spot or two across the board, but they’re still one of the better defenses in the league. One interesting statistic: this was their first game without at least one takeaway since the Week 3 loss to the Cardinals.

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 40 22 55.0% 88.1 10.5 210 136
DaRon Bland 41 20 48.8% 33.8 10.9 162 60
Jourdan Lewis 23 15 65.2% 134.1 8.1 124 86
Jayron Kearse 20 17 85.0% 83.3 7.4 117 63
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 21 17 81.0% 97.2 1.7 17 137
Damone Clark 17 15 88.2% 91.9 -0.3 -8 111

Jourdan Lewis continues to be a weak spot for this secondary. Against the Eagles, he was targeted four times and gave up three completions, all of which went for a first down. Only five corners have surrendered a higher passer rating when targeted than Lewis this year.

It has to be reiterated that Lewis is just over a year removed from a career-threatening injury, which likely explains the regression in his performance, but the Cowboys may need to explore other options in the slot if the veteran can’t improve soon.

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