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

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