Cowboys double down on bet that could drastically change their strategy - Cole Patterson, A to Z Sports
The Cowboys willingness to be more aggressive in acquiring talent may take an upswing with an addition to their analytics department.
“First, Dallas traded for cornerback Stephon Gilmore to bolster the secondary. Then, the team acquired Brandin Cooks to improve the passing game. But the Cowboys have also made personnel moves, such as hiring analytical mind John Park from the Indianapolis Colts. Mallepalle had an active role while with the Baltimore Ravens, an organization that is considered to be one of the best run franchises in the NFL. Her data and opinions mattered in NFL Draft discussions, among other areas.
In act [sic], the Ravens consulted Mallepalle in the lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft. That draft saw Baltimore add wideouts Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. General manager Eric DeCosta referenced the analytics that came from Mallepalle. Now with the Cowboys, Mallepalle is set to have an important role for America’s Team. And it’s the latest sign that the Cowboys are trending to a more of an analytical approach in football decisions.
The Cowboys are doubling down and putting more of an emphasis on analytics, trends, and numbers. Which is smart, given how the league is going. Instead of being left behind, the Cowboys are proactive with their offseason hires - something that should pay off on and of the field.”
Hot seats are all the rage this time of year.
“His record in the regular season is 61-36. However, the big cloud that hovers above his head is the performance in the playoffs. He’s got a 2-4 playoff record and his play has dropped off statistically in the postseason. Dallas has not made it past the divisional round since 1658 (OK, that’s a joke), but I think you get the point.
A lot of the talk recently about the Cowboys has seemed to revolve around whether or not Dak Prescott is indeed the QB that will be able to take them over the hump. After seven seasons Dallas, could 2023 be the last if things don’t change?
I could see it. I believe Colin Cowherd was the one who said Dak Prescott is just “Kirk Cousins with better PR” and that isn’t inaccurate.
I mean, Kirk Cousins had one team let him leave entirely in free agency, and since signing with the Minnesota Vikings, what has Cousins done besides put up shiny numbers in the regular season? I am not advocating for one thing or another here, but this is an interesting situation to monitor.
I think it’s especially interesting as the NFC is a weak conference. Dallas is arguably the most talented team in the conference and they really should have no trouble winning double-digit games and making the playoffs.”
Cowboys O-Line ‘Secret Weapon’: Matt Waletko [sic] ‘Flexing’ Muscle - Jonathan Alfano, Sports Illustrated
Second-year offensive lineman Matt Waletzko is coming along nicely in his sophomore season with the Dallas Cowboys and is learning at multiple positions.
Being able to play in a variety of situations is a good way for an under-publicized guy to stand out, and Waletzko’s versatility has already caught the attention of head coach Mike McCarthy. “You watch him come out of college,” McCarthy said. “You see this guy has a little better feet than we probably realized. Then obviously playing tackle with his length, when he walks in the door it’s easy to think this guy is going to be a left or right tackle the rest of his career. (But) really shown the ability to (also play) inside.”
To say Waletzko’s rookie season didn’t go according to plan would be putting it lightly. He only played in three games and took just 12 total snaps, with all but one of them being on special teams, and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in October. It took until May for Waletzko to return to action, but he put everything he had into his recovery. ”You really don’t know until you get in there and see what their capabilities are,” McCarthy said. “He didn’t miss a workout session with the rehab, he put in a tremendous amount of extra time and energy into the shoulder recovery.”
The Cowboys have plenty of talent at tackle with Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Terence Steele and more. … with Tyler and Terence also in play at guard. Perhaps moving inside is the way to go as Waletzko looks to make a name for himself in Dallas, but being able to play both positions is even better. “Position flex is important, it’s a part of the design of the 53-man roster and even more so the 48-man when we get to the games,” McCarthy said. “Everybody has been very very impressed with Matt. He’s having a heck of an offseason.”
A comprehensive look at the dominant Dallas defense.
The turnaround from being one of the league’s worst defenses in 2020 to one of its best in 2021-2022 has garnered Quinn praise for reinventing himself, and created consistent buzz related to just about every head coaching vacancy. But how has Quinn crafted one to the top units in the league?
It boils down to two words.... chaotic simplicity.
Quinn has not revolutionized who he is as a defensive coach. The fingerprints of the Legion of Boom that Quinn coordinated a decade ago are still all over this Dallas defense. That Seahawks group was famous for being almost embarrassingly simple in their coverage schemes. Those teams ran Cover-1 (man coverage with a free safety in the middle of the field), or Cover-3 (three deep/four under zone coverage), on virtually every snap.
In 2022, Quinn called Cover-1, Cover-3 or Cover-2 (two deep/five under zone coverage usually with a linebacker dropping deep to the middle of the field) on over 83% of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps. These three coverages are the most basic and universal coverages used in the NFL, and are called every week in middle schools and high schools all over the country. Every offense in the league has concepts designed to beat these coverages, and every quarterback knows how to read them and what to expect when they face them.
So how is the Dallas defense able to be so simple in coverage, and still be second in total defensive DVOA, and third in pass defense DVOA?
One way is that the Cowboys do a good job of giving quarterbacks false keys pre-snap.
This play with Trevon Diggs lined up “out of position” in the slot against Cooper Kupp, and Leighton Vander Esch aligned wide over the tight end is a great example. This tells the quarterback it’s almost certain to be man, but then the team drops to Cover 2, with a linebacker in the role traditionally played by the corner, and a boundary corner in the role traditionally played by a linebacker or slot corner.
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