As a statistician, one of the things that drives me nuts about Jason Garrett’s tenure with the Dallas Cowboys is how average the numbers break. Unless you’re calculating his record against the NFC East on the road (8-3, by the way), most of the metrics indicate the mediocre results this team produces. What I’m about to share with you is another entry in that narrative.
The Dallas Cowboys went 3-5 on the road this season. That sounds awful, and ostensibly it is. Only 2 out of the 8 teams that went 3-5 on the road made the playoffs. Those two teams are the New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals. They overcame that disadvantage by sweeping their home games. (Queerly enough, the Saints won a road playoff game outdoors, while the Bengals lost their home playoff game.)
With America’s Team going 5-3 in AT&T Stadium, they didn’t help their case. Of the 7 teams who went 5-3 at home, only 2 of them (San Diego, Kansas City) made the playoffs. You look over at their road W-L column and you see 4-4 and 6-2 respectively.
AT&T Stadium, formerly Cowboys Stadium from 2009-12, had so much promise after its inaugural season. Dallas went 7-2 in the world’s eighth wonder, including a home playoff win. Since posting that .778 winning percentage, Dallas has gone .500 (16-16) at home. It’s only a house of pain for the home fans.
Since 2009, the Dallas Cowboys have gone 19-22 on the road, including playoffs. When including full seasons only, Jason Garrett has not posted a winning road record. You have to go back to Wade Phillips’ penultimate season to find a 5-4 record on the road.
Charity begins at home, and so do championships. The first step in getting out of the morass is to get in that tier of teams who go 6-2 or better at home. Incidentally, the Cowboys were on the verge of achieving just that, and you know what game that was. Since 2010, 31/38 that have gone 6-2 or better at home have made the playoffs. The 7 teams that failed either finished with .500 or winning records (e.g. ’13 Cardinals).
Going 6-2 at home in 2013 would have put Dallas in the playoffs, and same goes for 2012 because they would have gained two extra wins. Protecting the house Jerry built (and sold the naming rights to) reduces your chances of needing to win the season finale.
With San Francisco, Arizona, Indianapolis, Houston, New Orleans, and the NFC East parading through AT&T Stadium this fall, that could be too tall of an order.