Cowboys Offense Search For Super Bowl Formula

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Jun 17, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches footballs for a drill during minicamp at Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

FoxSports recently published an article claiming the 2014 Cowboys needed to be a top five offense to make the playoffs. This is something I completely disagree with. With Scott Linehan, the Detroit Lions had a top five offense three times and only made the playoffs once. The Cowboys haven’t had a top five ranking since 2009. Like the Lions, the Cowboys could reach top five status and not make the playoffs. Long story short, there are other factors involved.

Let’s look at expectations for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys offense by glancing at Scott Linehan’s offensive rankings with the Detroit Lions. From 2009 to 2013, Scott Linehan was offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. How did the Lions offense function during that time period?

 

Scott Linehan’s Offensive Rankings With Detroit Lions

Year

Offensive Ranking

Pass Ranking

Run Ranking

Final Record

2009

26th – 299 ypg

21st – 198 ypg

23rd – 101 ypg

2 – 14

2010

15th – 339 ypg

12th – 238 ypg

23rd – 101 ypg

6 – 10

2011

5th – 397 ypg

3rd – 306 ypg

30th – 91 ypg

10 – 6

2012

3rd – 409 ypg

2nd – 308 ypg

23rd – 101 ypg

4 – 12

2013

5th – 392 ypg

3rd – 280 ypg

17th – 112 ypg

7 – 9

 

Calvin Johnson joined the Detroit Lions in 2007 and quarterback Matthew Stafford joined in 2009. Stafford started and played in 10 games in 2009 and 3 games in 2010. Linehan trusted the arm of young Matthew Stafford, who in his third NFL season was able to start 16 games and finish with 41 TD’s, 16 INT’s and more than 5,000 yards.

The Cowboys offensive numbers took a hit last season. Jason Garrett was stripped of his play calling duties even though he had a top ten offense and called running plays by accident. The offensive coordinator title was awarded to Bill Callahan. As the running game coordinator, we thought we’d see see the Cowboys’ become a ground and pound team. Callahan provided us with a 1,000 yard rusher, but failed to dramatically improve the run ranking. The offense performed worse overall despite the development of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant which forced Garrett to resume play calling duties.

With the NFL’s worst ranked defense, you would expect the team to have outstanding passing numbers due to playing catch up. It was the first time the Cowboys’ total offense fell out of the NFL’s top ten. Under Scott Linehan, Cowboy Nation should expect numbers similar to 2010 or 2011. Hopefully with an improved final record.

 

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Rankings from 2009 – 2013

Year

Offensive Ranking

Pass Ranking

Run Ranking

Final Record

2009

2nd – 392 ypg

8th – 260 ypg

6th – 133 ypg

11 – 5

2010

8th – 364 ypg

6th – 252 ypg

15th – 112 ypg

6 – 10

2011

10th – 376 ypg

7th – 263 ypg

17th – 113 ypg

8 – 8

2012

7th – 375 ypg

3rd – 296 ypg

31st – 79 ypg

8 – 8

2013

17th – 341 ypg

15th – 247 ypg

25th – 94 ypg

8 – 8

 

Is too much attention is paid to yards per game? The Lions during that five year time period had four losing seasons while the Cowboys haven’t exceeded a .500 win percentage in four years. (I hated to type that.) Both teams have top ranked offenses but that hasn’t translated to winning records. Offenses are designed to gain yards, but primary functions also include getting first downs and scoring points.

 

Cowboys vs Lions 3rd Down Conversion Percentage
Year Cowboys Lions
2009 13th – 41% 23rd – 36%
2010 10th – 41% 13th – 40%
2011 11th – 39% 15th – 37%
2012 5th – 44% 9th – 42%
2013 26th – 35% 6th – 43%

 

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