I’ve been staring at this blank page and I don’t know quite what to say about this maddening, life shortening, health-risking team I love. When I was preparing for my Falcons preview column last week, I went into the process assuming I would I come to the conclusion that the Cowboys would lose to the undefeated Falcons. What I ended up discovering is that the Falcons were an extremely beatable team, and that their winning streak was soon to end.
I still believe that… I was just wrong in what week it would happen. Allow me to overextend a metaphor for you.
The Falcons are the girl you see across the room in a party and you think, “Wow. What is that flawless beauty doing in a place like this?” This girl is way out of your league. She will probably smile politely at you and pretend to receive an emergency phone call as she realizes you are coming to talk to her, but you have to try.
So you pop in your mint and pop your collar (I assume that’s what you do anyway. I’m hopelessly married and out of touch with what you kids are doing these days) and make your way across the room to somehow woo this goddess. As you get closer, you start to notice things about her. Not deal breaking things – maybe she’s a little heavier than you first thought or has a little acne. The point is, she isn’t quite what you thought she was when you first saw her across the room, but this is to your advantage.
See, you’re not exactly Brad Pitt yourself. You’ve got a beer gut and could probable use a shower and shave, but you’re also witty and have some charms of your own. This is when you think you might actually have a chance and you start to get your hopes up.
The Falcons politely listened to the Cowboys adorable little pickup lines for a little bit – but they suddenly got an emergency phone call and had to leave.
So here I am preparing for this week, and I look across the room and I see the Eagles – all overweight, drunk and emotionally unstable – and I’m thinking, yeah… I think they can do this. I think?
I like your style, Rob Ryan
There is a truckload of negative things you can say about this team – consistently inconsistent, weak minded, mistake prone, overrated, underachieving – but there is one aspect of this team that has been very impressive to me, and that’s the defense. More particularly, Rob Ryan’s leadership and improvement of the Cowboys’ defensive unit is borderline incredible.
The talent on the defensive side of the ball has obviously improved, but he brings a swagger and earnest dedication that has been a long needed facet of this football team. I think it’s very easy to overlook the success the defensive unit has made because of the total lack of success that the team as a whole has had.
In the wake of the loss, and in spite of letting the Atlanta Falcons score a season low 19 points, Rob Ryan had this to say:
“You know, I think we could have done a better job of adjusting and that’s on me. I think their coaching staff did a better job than I did. Our coaching staff did a great job. I didn’t hold up my end and so that’s all on me. And that’s damn unfortunate right there, but that’s the truth.”
I believe he believes that. It’s absolutely insane, but I believe he is that hard on himself and that his expectation of his unit is to hold every team they face to 17 points or less. This season’s failure has been that of the offensive unit. The Cowboys are still 5th in overall yards allowed and have been one of the primary reasons that this team has been able to stay in games. The fact that they are only allowing 22.6 PPG against (17th) despite the horrifying -11 turnover ratio and 3 pick-6’s allowed this season, is nothing short of amazing. As sad as it would be to lose him, I truly hope that he turns this garbage dump of a season into a Head Coach job elsewhere.
Cowboys Passing Game
It doesn’t take an expert to figure out how terribly the Cowboys offense has been this year. I think the most popular analysis of this group is placing blame firmly on the shoulders of Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, which is hard to argue at this point. Do I personally think that Tony Romo has suddenly become a terrible Quarterback? No. I put myself out there with my inaugural column that I am quite a Romosapien, and while this season has been excruciating for me and has shaken my faith at times, I still think he is a very good player.
- 2012 Projection is simply projecting his current stats over the remainder of the season.
- There is quite a bit I hate about this chart, but the starkest piece for me relates to Touchdowns and Interceptions
- In 2011, Romo had an exemplary +21 TD to INT ratio. In 2012, he has a -6 ratio.
- He is on pace to throw 11 fewer TD’s and throw 16 more Interceptions.
- Part of the issue is that he is attempting 7 more passes per game on average, mostly because the Cowboys have no run game to speak of and are often trying to get back into games.
- He is on pace to throw for over 600 more yards than he did last year.
Part of the problem has been a complete lack of production from the running game. Even though the run game was an issue before Demarco Murray’s injury, it is becoming clear that his return is vital to the success of this offense. The timeline for his return is uncertain. Another aspect of the failure of this squad is the inconsistent play of Romo’s receivers. The Cowboys simply must get more consistent and prolific production from this unit.
- This table shows the Cowboys receivers projected stats if they continue production at their current pace. For Demarco Murray, I projected his stats assuming he will return in Week 11 against the Browns, which is not certain at this point.
- CTCH % is the percentage of their targets that they turn into a successful reception. % of Total REC is the % of their Receptions against the whole passing offense. % of Total Yds is their % share of the passing yards.
- The % of Total row is this group’s share of the total passing game production. As an example , these 6 players are responsible for 96% of the team’s receptions and 98% of receiving yards.
- Though the run game was less than stellar even with Demarco Murray healthy, it is clear that he was a very important outlet for Romo in the passing game. Murray caught 94% of the passes thrown to him – by far and away a team high.
2012 Philadelphia Eagles
Oh praise ye football gods! Finally there is an opponent as woeful and underperforming as our Dallas Cowboys!
- Just like the Cowboys, the Eagles are a top 10 offense yardage wise, but ineffeciantly translate the productivity to the 30th most points scored, mainly due to turnovers.
- Their defense is more straight-forward in being a middle of the pack defense. They rank 15th in yards allowed and 18th in points allowed.
- Despite starting strong with a 3-1 record, the Eagles have lost 4 straight leading to rampant speculation about the benching of their Quarterback Michael Vick and Andy Reid potentially losing his job.
- Unlike the Cowboys, the Eagles have a healthy and elite level running back in LeSean McCoy – though at this point, he is woefully underused.
Cowboys Vs. Eagles Statistical Comparison
- The Cowboys lead every statistical category, both offensively and defensively, except for Yards Rushed. The rushing game is one of the Eagles rare positives, even though Andy Reid is notorious for his aversion to committing to the run game. I think it’s probable that we will see a commitment to feeding LeSean McCoy the ball from this point on.
- As stated above, both clubs are extremely inefficient at turning Yards Gained into Points Scored. Both Quarterbacks are extremely turnover prone.
Comparison of Shared Opponents
- Note: The Cowboys have played the Giants, while the Eagles have only played them once. For the Cowboys statistics, I averaged their production over the two game and counted their ‘Result’ as a tie, since they went 1-1 in their 2 games.
- Against the 3 Shared Opponents, the Eagles are 2-1 against 1-3 for the Cowboys. Clear advantage Eagles.
- Both teams have scored more prolifically than their season averages in their shared matchups.
- The Cowboys have a clear edge in offensive statistics against these opponents, but the teams are much closer in defensive statistics.
- The takeaway for me is that the Eagles were able to find a way to win close games, where the Cowboys seem unable to accomplish that task.
Last week I foolishly predicted that the Cowboys would beat the Falcons by a score of 27 to 23. My reasons for optimism were listed, but ultimately the Cowboys’ penchant for creative losing seized the day. Many of my aforementioned points came to fruition – i.e. fewer turnovers, making the Falcons kick Field Goals in the red zone, etc. The Cowboys allowed the fewest points of any defense that has faced the Falcons this season. They held the Falcons to 6 points in the first half and an Atlanta season low of 19 for the whole game. But if the Cowboys do anything really well – that would have to be losing games they shouldn’t.
Even though the Falcons prediction was a bad call, I am still 5-3 on my predictions for the season. To add to my tireless charts and stat nerdery, I am also going to begin to publish my prediction stats – no matter how embarrassing they might be or how high they might make me seem. As a boost to my fragile ego, please note how close my prediction was the previous week against the Giants.
The Cowboys face an opponent in the Eagles that are equal in their ability to be prodigiously talented and lose games in ridiculous fashion. The Cowboys must contain LeSean McCoy and force Michael Vick to throw the ball to beat them. If they can win the Turnover battle, the Cowboys should be able to move to 4-5 and put the Eagles’ season to rest. If not, it will be the Cowboys saying goodnight to their playoff hopes… slim though those hopes might be.
Cowboys 17, Eagles 13