Rush success is defined as a rushing play that nets 40% of the yards needed for a 1st down on first down. Acquiring 50% of the needed yards for a first down on a teams 2nd down attempt. And on 3rd or 4th down actually converting the remainder yards needed into a 1st down. After discussing last week that 3rd down efficiency was a critical part of the game needed for the Dallas Cowboys to win last week and every week going forward for that matter this week the Cowboys rush success is at the top of the agenda.
Last week the Cowboys moved to 9-0 when DeMarco Murray rushes 18 times or more and as a rookie Murray ended the season with a 5.5 yards per carry average. But Murray’s average has dropped, this season, to less than four yards per tote. So far this season DeMarco Murray has accounted for 42% of all Cowboys run plays even after missing six complete games. The Cowboys for obvious reasons have been more pass heavy this year rushing the 34% of the time compared to passing the ball on 66% of the play calls. But at that 34% how successful have the Dallas Cowboys been? And on which down are the Cowboys most successful when rushing the ball?
Of the 306 rushes, which include when Tony Romo has been left no other option but to scramble for any yardage possible, the Cowboys have had 155 first down rushes or 20% of the time run the ball on 1st down. Of those 155 first down rushes the Cowboys have gained four yards or more or been what we consider successful 44% of the time setting up manageable 2nd down situations. Of the same 306 total rushes the Cowboys have a total of 95 runs that have taken place on 2nd down and the Cowboys have a success rate of 55%. The Cowboys are currently only rushing the ball 8% of the time on 3rd or 4th downs but when then do they have their highest rush success rate of any down. When needing the necessary yards for a 1st down conversion and the Cowboys elect to run the ball, Dallas is successful 64% of the time. Overall as a team the Dallas cowboys have a rush success rate of right approximately 50%. Mediocre right? Indeed and a large majority of that has to do with the time that DeMarco Murray missed. Of Murray’s 119 rushes this year Murray is providing a 55% rush success percent doling out a 47% success rate on 1st downs, 62% on 2nd downs and a whopping 75% on 3rd down carries.
Want to know what all this means? With DeMarco Murray the Dallas Cowboys actually should improve yards gained on 1st through 3rd downs as long as Murray is healthy and a staple of the offense despite Murray’s drop in average yards per carry from last years 5.5 average. This also should lead to an increased 3rd down efficiency all factoring into games won and in the upcoming three game stretch that’s exactly what the Cowboys need for a playoff push.