Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is tackled by the Dallas Cowboys defense during the third quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys: A Playoff Team If Defense Was Just Average


Jerry Jones has decided that there will be no coaching changes. There’s no telling if that will actually remain the case, but if it does, I’m actually not too upset about it. Please note that I was irate when Jones fired Rob Ryan. I believe that Rod Marinelli would be an upgrade over Monte Kiffin as the defensive coordinator. However, I think the Cowboys are better with both of them providing their opinions of defensive players available in the 2014 NFL draft.

Last year, the Cowboys defense surrendered the most yards per game. You shouldn’t be surprised by that because the Tampa 2 defense is a bend but don’t break system. In other words, teams are supposed to drive up and down the field all day, but leave with field goals. That stat should be irrelevant because defense is not about yards. The winning team is the one with the most points.

Defensive Rankings of NFL Playoff Teams By Yards and Points per Game

Team

Yards Allowed Per Game

Defensive Rank Based on Yardage

Points Allowed Per Game

Defensive Rank Based on Points

Cowboys

415.3

32nd

27

26th

Broncos

356 (59.3)

19th

24.9 (2.1)

22nd

Patriots

373.1 (42.2)

26th

21.1 (5.9)

10th

Bengals

305.5 (109.8)

3rd

19.1 (7.9)

5th

Colts

357.1 (58.2)

20th

21 (6)

9th

Chiefs

367.8 (47.5)

24th

19.1 (7.9)

5th

Chargers

366.5 (48.8)

23rd

21.8 (5.2)

11th

Seahawks

273.6 (141.7)

1st

14.4 (12.6)

1st

Panthers

301.2 (114.1)

2nd

15.1 (11.9)

2nd

Eagles

394 (21.3)

29th

23.9 (3.1)

17th

Packers

372.2 (43.1)

25th

26.8 (.2)

24th

49′ers

316.9 (98.4)

5th

17 (10)

4th

Saints

305.7 (109.6)

4th

19 (8)

3rd

Excuse the numbers porn, but I’m a proud nerd. If it’s not clear, here’s what I see inside the numbers. The Broncos defense allowed 356 total yards per game. That’s 59.3 yards less per game than the Cowboys. That’s about equal to getting one more defensive stop at midfield and forcing a team to punt per game.

** Edit – Just realized my old graph incorrectly did an average of the average. I was working with the overall totals before switching to the averages. I apologize if you caught it. It has been corrected – 1/22/2014 – 08:42 pm EST

In the points area, the Broncos defense allowed 24.9 points per game. That averages out to be less than a field goal per game when compared to the Cowboys. How much better are the Broncos than the Cowboys defensively? I say barely when you factor that the Cowboys gave up 30 or more points 7 times including scores of 45, 49, and 51. Removing those three scores gives the Cowboys a defensive average of 22.08 points allowed over 13 games.

The Broncos were helped by an offense that scored an NFL best – 37.9 points per game. The Broncos defense gave up 30 or more points 3 times. The only game of those three that they won was against us, 51 – 48.

The Cowboys offense, as bad as they seemed at times, averaged 27.4 points per game which makes them rank 5th in the NFL this season. As a team, the Cowboys failed to score 20 or more points in just 3 games (Chiefs, Eagles, Saints). The only victory coming in the Eagles game which the Cowboys won 17 – 3.

With those numbers, I can accept the offensive coaching staff returning because I like – Continuity – especially when it concerns the coaching staff or the offensive line. In this case, the “coordinator” would be the offensive line coach and that’s a double whammy. I do hope they draft a guard as that’s an area that could be upgraded.

Defensively, I’ll refer to another c-word – Cohesiveness. You hear about defensive secondaries being a cohesive unit. I know the Cowboys lost their last game, but I liked what I saw from the defense: 5 quarterback sacks, a fumble recovery and a goal line stand. DeVonte Holloman is going to contend for a starting linebacker spot and be a star in this league.

I know there is a large area for improvement but I look forward to the next group and new draft additions staying healthy and becoming a force. With the 5th highest scoring offense in the NFL, the defense only needed to be statistically “average” in points allowed to compare with teams that made the playoffs this year.

The Seahawks secondary is considered to be the best in the league. Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Walter Thurmond were all drafted by the Seahawks in 2010. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell were added by the draft in 2011. They have grown and learned how to play as a team.

Training, practicing and studying film together can turn our next group of individual defenders into a cohesive unit. Under the guidance of Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, I believe we will find the right pieces in this upcoming draft and begin our return to the top. After all, we only need our defense to be “average”!

#GoCowboys

Tags: Dallas Cowboys

  • Chesney Blair

    I think you should look at the final four of the NFC which is the conference we play in terms of points allowed: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the NFL. If you think having the second worse defense in the conference warrants continuity, then I have to disagree with you. Road to the super bowl goes through these teams and we are at least couple of years away.

    • Robert H. Carroll

      Half of me would like to agree. I feel Carolina and New Orleans padded their stats by beating up on Atlanta and Tampa Bay. I hate that we were the only team to finish 5-1 in the division and not make the playoffs. If conference records determined the playoffs, then at 7-5, the Cowboys would’ve been the 6th seed.

      • Chesney Blair

        How can you say they padded their stats when we had the worst division in the entire NFL? NO were very difficult to beat at home, and Carolina’s defense is the real deal just like the Niners and the Seahawks. It still remains, without a top defense we will stay mediocre at the most. Do you think it is possible we draft 3 or 4 linemen in the first five rounds? Looking at Jerry’s record, I don’t see that happening sadly.

        • Robert H. Carroll

          Drafting 3 or 4 linemen in the first five rounds isn’t a realistic proposition, unless the team can find a way to accumulate multiple picks in the upper rounds. Even if the intent is to draft 3 defensive linemen and a guard, there are other teams drafting too. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you have to decide between the 3rd rated safety on your draft board (for example) or your board’s 12th rated defensive tackle.
          With a mid round pick, I don’t see us getting elite talent in the draft. Still, quality players exist in the mid-rounds. A fourth round DT could get significant playing time and be a contributor.
          I don’t believe we had the worst division in the NFL. Carolina & New Orleans had Atlanta and Tampa Bay that both finished 4 – 12. The NFC East, NFC West, AFC North and AFC West are the only divisions with three teams that won 6 or more (50%) of their conference games.
          Of 16 teams in the NFC, the Eagles and Cowboys ranked 2nd and 3rd in terms of points scored. The Cowboys only need their defense to decrease the points allowed per game from 27 to 21 and they would’ve competitive in this year’s playoffs.

          • Chesney Blair

            Robert your article was based on comparing the Cowboys to the Broncos. I told you this a wrong logic because you should be looking at our division which coincidentally had the top four defensive teams in the NFL as these are the teams we would go against if we were to make the playoffs. You don’t get to the top four by just playing the Falcons and Bucs twice a year. By the way New Orleans and the Panthers had one of strongest strength of schedules in the league based on the year before. Our division was horrible. Giants got some garbage wins at the end and was a horrible team. The Redskins lost last nine games in a row and had a complete breakdown. The Eagles would’ve run away with the division if they hadn’t started a very slow 3 and 5. We were fortunate to even have a chance in the last game given that the only teams we beat outside our division were: STL, Oak at home(got dominated the first half) and Vikings in the last two minutes at home. This was a pretty bad team however you look at it. You are making it out like if we had a better defensive team we would’ve done something serious. Cardinals won 10 games still didn’t make the playoffs. Our offense had chance to close games vs Eagles, Packers, Lions to name a few. They still found a way to lose. This team was not very good from top to bottom and it showed in the second half. We are not close to anything. What would’ve happened if made the playoff. Get blown out by the Saints?

          • Robert H. Carroll

            Alas, I was just pointing out how to read the data in the chart and since the Broncos were first, I used them as the example. Otherwise, I would’ve only put the Broncos in the chart.
            I don’t really put too much weight into Strength of Schedule because it uses the W-L records of opponents from the prior season. Players, Coordinators, Coaches, Injuries all change from season to season and can influence a team “schedule strength”. The Texans went 2 – 14 this year and will weaken the strength of schedule ranking of their opponents, but I wouldn’t consider the Texans to be a “weak” team next season.
            A fumble by Randle caused us the Chiefs game, but the Cowboys lost 5 games by 3 points or less (Chiefs 17-16, Denver 51-48, Detroit 31-30, Green Bay 37-36, Philadelphia 24-22). To close games, yes, they could’ve ran the ball more, but had our injured defense held teams to a field goal or forced a punt, then that would’ve made a major difference. We’re looking at a 13 – 3 record.

          • Chesney Blair

            There is no way this team is close to or is a 13-3 calibre team. Not with Romo at the helm and JG’s ultra conservative and dull play-calling. Cowboys had an easy schedule and blew it. This team does not know how to win. Your point further justifies this. Name me some crucial wins against good solid opponents the Cowboys had the last three years? This team only beats average to below average teams and can’t win a thing against good teams. It has been the story all along. If you watch the play of this team in the second half you would see that this team was on the verge of a total collapse. Like always they struggled in December and were 1-3 in December . Same story different year. Some of the Cowboys fans don’t want to see the reality and have the same optimism Jerry does, when they should be demanding more. Bring back Wade Phillips! At least when he won, he was fairly successful in the regular season. LOL. RKG my arse! This team will be 6-10 at best 8-8 next year. I’ve seen enough. Romo will get injured in game six and that will be the final nail in the coffin for this nonsense that we are a good team. Then Jerry will panic and look for years for a good qb because he neglected the need to draft a qb since the McGee experiment. I see the OL regressing as well, because Jerry thinks one year of good play is enough when we should be drafting a guard. The end is coming. The writing is on the wall. I hope I am wrong.

  • Chesney Blair

    Thanks for the articles by the way.

  • Dutch_Dude_1

    Yards per game…and then you divide them per game again ?

    • Robert H. Carroll

      I just caught that.. I was grabbing data from the wrong browser tab. I tried to fix it earlier, but couldn’t make the changes from my iPhone.. My apologies… but excellent catch. I swear, The Landry Hat has the sharpest Cowboys fans.

  • Juanito Juanito

    hey cowboys fan, next season same endind dont be delutional, if jerry or stephen said cowboys are ready for super bowl, dont belive them, be real

  • big ed

    right on. I love a guy who gets the facts before he does his analysis.