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Recommended Historical team rankings (some perspective on the importance of our pass offense)

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by percyhoward, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    To get an idea of teams' strengths and weaknesses over the history of the franchise, I looked at pass offense, run offense, pass defense, and run defense rankings for every Cowboys team since the beginning. For each category I used the stat with the highest correlation to winning, that being pass rating in the pass categories, and touchdowns in the run categories. IOW, the ranking you see for pass offense is offensive pass rating, pass defense uses defensive pass rating (opposing QB rating), run offense uses rushing TD, and run defense uses rushing TD allowed.

    The rankings are in the order of offensive pass rating, rushing TD, defensive pass rating, and rushing TD allowed. I then took the average of the four rankings to make a team ranking (in parentheses). For example, this...

    2007 4th, 10th, 5th, 17th (9.0)*

    means that in 2007, the team finished 4th in offensive pass rating, 10th in rushing TD, 5th in defensive pass rating, and 17th in rushing TD allowed, for an average team ranking of 9th. The asterisk means that team qualified for the playoffs, as you would expect a team with an average ranking of 9th to do.

    I also adjusted the average ranking for league size. For example...

    1965 8th, 12th, 5th, 8th (18.9)

    Even though the 1965 team had an average rank of 8.25, that team played in a 14-team league. Obviously, their "8th of 14" was not as good as the 2007 team's "9th of 32". To facilitate comparison of teams across eras, all rankings have been adjusted to what they would be in a 32-team league. That 1965 team's four rankings averaged out to about 19th in a 32-team league, which would be no surprise for a .500 team (That team was 7-7).

    Here are the 54 regular seasons.

    1960 12th, 13th, 12th, 13th (30.8)
    1961 8th, 14th, 7th, 12th (23.4)
    1962 1st, 6th, 13th, 7th (15.4)
    1963 8th, 2nd, 9th, 4th (13.1)
    1964 14th, 4th, 6th, 1st (14.3)
    1965 8th, 12th, 5th, 8th (18.9)
    1966 3rd, 1st, 5th, 1st (5.3)*
    1967 7th, 9th, 6th, 4th (13.0)*
    1968 4th, 1st, 7th, 1st (6.5)*
    1969 3rd, 1st, 6th, 1st (5.5)*
    1970 5th, 3rd, 3rd, 9th (6.2)*
    1971 1st, 1st, 7th, 5th (4.3)*
    1972 15th, 8th, 14th, 2nd (12.0)*
    1973 1st, 4th, 12th, 1st (5.5)*
    1974 9th, 2nd, 23rd, 5th (12.0)
    1975 7th, 10th, 6th, 6th (8.9)*
    1976 6th, 9th, 9th, 8th (9.1)*
    1977 2nd, 1st, 4th, 7th (4.0)*
    1978 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th (4.6)*
    1979 1st, 18th, 18th, 10th (13.4)*
    1980 7th, 1st, 7th, 14th (8.3)*
    1981 5th, 14th, 1st, 14th (5.4)*
    1982 6th, 10th, 8th, 2nd (7.4)*
    1983 5th, 3rd, 16th, 8th (9.1)*
    1984 23rd, 20th, 2nd, 1st (13.1)
    1985 7th, 23rd, 4th, 17th (14.6)*
    1986 11th, 4th, 12th, 21st (13.7)
    1987 11th, 5th, 10th, 27th (15.2)
    1988 18th, 23rd, 28th, 8th (22.0)
    1989 28th, 27th, 28th, 21st (29.7)
    1990 28th, 14th, 13th, 23rd (22.3)
    1991 7th, 12th, 18th, 12th (14.0)*
    1992 3rd, 2nd, 10th, 11th (7.4)*
    1993 2nd, 2nd, 14th, 5th (6.6)*
    1994 4th, 1st, 1st, 3rd (2.6)*
    1995 5th, 1st, 8th, 14th (7.5)*
    1996 16th, 10th, 2nd, 9th (9.9)*
    1997 17th, 28th, 16th, 12th (19.5)
    1998 8th, 2nd, 11th, 10th (8.3)*
    1999 11th, 5th, 7th, 2nd (7.0)*
    2000 27th, 9th, 16th, 15th (17.3)
    2001 30th, 26th, 19th, 19th (24.3)
    2002 28th, 30th, 8th, 5th (17.8)
    2003 23rd, 21st, 3rd, 3rd (12.5)*
    2004 24th, 13th, 27th, 20th (21.0)
    2005 12th, 14th, 9th, 17th (13.0)
    2006 8th, 3rd, 20th, 11th (10.5)*
    2007 4th, 10th, 5th, 17th (9.0)*
    2008 13th, 22nd, 20th, 8th (15.8)
    2009 6th, 15th, 16th, 4th (10.3)*
    2010 12th, 29th, 21st, 12th (18.5)
    2011 4th, 30th, 25th, 6th (16.3)
    2012 9th, 27th, 29th, 26th (22.8)
    2013 7th, 18th, 26th, 26th (19.3)


    When the average ranking is above 12.0, the team always makes the playoffs (24 of 24 seasons).

    When the average ranking is 12.0-14.6, the team makes the playoffs half the time (6 of 12 seasons).

    When the average ranking is lower than 14.6, the team never makes the playoffs (0 of 18 seasons).


    5 of the last 6 years, the team's average ranking has been below 14.6, which is the first time in franchise history that such a run has happened. The last four seasons, the average ranking has been worse than 16.0 every year. Also a first in franchise history. And this despite a pass offense that has ranked 13th or higher nine straight seasons, which is the second-longest such streak since the Cowboys began.

    Factoring out pass offense then, the average rank of the rest of the team has been below 20.0 for each of the last four seasons. This is something that had only happened four times in the history of the franchise prior to 2010. Now it's happened four years in a row.

    Team's average ranking excluding pass offense
    (years when worse than 20th)

    1960 13th, 12th, 13th (31.2)
    1961 14th, 7th, 12th (25.1)
    1989 27th, 28th, 21st (28.9)
    2001 26th, 19th, 19th (21.3)
    2010 29th, 21st, 12th (20.7)
    2011 30th, 25th, 6th (20.3)
    2012 27th, 29th, 26th (27.3)
    2013 18th, 26th, 26th (23.3)

    Those are the rankings for run offense, and pass/run defense only. This can't be good. The only times the rest of the team (minus pass offense) was this bad were the first two seasons as an expansion team, Jones and Johnson's first year (1-15), and Campo's second year. The combined records of these teams was 9-46-2. But remember, those seasons were spread out over three decades, with the only consecutive years being the expansion years of 1960-61.

    We're on a streak of four years in a row that is ongoing.
  2. OhSnap

    OhSnap Well-Known Member

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    Yea its been bad in an odd way and some weird things have had to happen to get those four years in a row. I don't think any teams have ever went 8-8 3 years in a row and if there have been it's only 1-2 not counting this one and they've set the record for games decided by 3 point or less while doing it. A different team winning the division 3 years in a row? Has that ever happened? How many games with the same starting line ups on defense for the last 2 years? 3 years in a row deciding the division on the last game I know they havent been doing those matchups forever but I don't think thats ever happened. It's twilight zone bad. With a QB breakin all the team records too LOL WTH
    Carharris2 and jobberone like this.
  3. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Other teams have had 3 straight 8-8 seasons before, but we're the first team to do so while losing the last game every year.

    And we're easily the first team to win as many as 8 games three years in a row with these kinds of rushing and defensive rankings.
    Wheeltax likes this.
  4. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Beautiful, percy.
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  5. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Out of curiosity, how do passing tds correlate to victory as compared with running tds? Ie, is the win correlation with scoring in general, or is it higher with rushing touchdowns?
    jobberone likes this.
  6. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    why did i bother with school, i could have just read Percys posts and i still come out ahead.
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  7. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff as usual Percy. That tells a prettydepressing defensive story over the past four years.

    On a painful historical note, the Cowboys highest average rank overall in your stats was 1994, at 2.6. That of course was the team that fell behind the 49'ers 21-0 and lost in the NFC Championship game, a team that Aikman later called "the greatest waste of talent in NFL history".
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  8. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Most of us already know that rushing yards per attempt have no correlation to winning. What's interesting is that, while there's virtually no difference between pass yards per attempt and passing TD per attempt as they correlate to winning, there is a major difference between rushing yards per attempt and rushing TD. And this is that rushing touchdowns are worth much more than the yards it takes to get them. This goes along with red zone yards being more important also.

    http://thesportingtruth.com/?p=1723

    Because TD per drive differential is such a good stat, you have to consider touchdowns in general, so the best run stat is TD. I then looked at rushing TD allowed because the correlations of an offensive stat and its defensive counterpart are basically the same. It's possible that rushing first down percentage might be just as good or better than rushing TD/attempt, but that information is unavailable before 1999, at least to me.

    A couple of caveats: None of this means that rushing TD are worth more than passing TD, just that rushing TD per attempt is the best of the rushing stats. Also, I looked at total rushing TD, as opposed to "per attempt." I did this not only because it's much, much easier, but because while the number of rushing attempts varies from team to team within a season, I'm comparing season to season within the same team. We may have run a lot more under Parcells, but the total rushing TD ranking reflects that, and gives us a better idea of the size of the role of run offense than a "TD per attempt" ranking would anyway.

    There may very well be another run stat that would more accurately reflect team success, but with a sample size of 54 seasons, the results seem to confirm that total rushing TD was the way to go.
    Idgit likes this.
  9. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Got it. This is great. As well as a ton of work.

    So we should concentrate on pass defense and on not allowing so many rushing tds. I'm still sorting in my head how much to hope for improved rushing td numbers on offense given our effectiveness last season in the red zone and it's obvious importance to our passing offense numbers. Unless we can just improve that rushing td stat incrementally without stealing those back shoulder fades from Dez.
  10. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    My purpose was more descriptive than prescriptive. We should obviously concentrate on (need to improve) defense in general, and it wouldn't hurt to run it a little more (and a little better) in the red zone. Rushing TD numbers are in large part a reflection of how well a team moves the ball, or prevents the opponent from moving the ball. But that's not all of it. Compare red zone rushing in 2006 with 2013 to see the role of play selection.

    Total red zone possessions
    2006 58 (4th)
    2013 51 (13th)

    Total red zone run plays
    2006 118 (1st)
    2013 54 (26th)

    Run plays per possession
    2006 2.03
    2013 1.06

    Touchdowns
    2006 19 (2nd)
    2013 12 (15th)

    Percentage of runs resulting in 1st down or TD
    2006 31.4% (5th)
    2013 37.0% (4th)

    On a percentage basis, we ran better in the red zone in 2013 than in 2006. But because we ran only half as often, the production was less. And that 37% will go down with more attempts, we just need to give it an opportunity to go down. Ultimately, there's an equilibrium to be reached. Outside the red zone, we need to get better in obvious running situations, then we'll extend more drives and end up with more red zone opportunities.

    Bottom line, this team, with this pass offense, has been successful when the rest of the team is at least average. We need to shoot for at least an average ranking of 16th from the rest of the team. In 2008, If not for Romo's injury, or if our backup QB situation had been any good, we'd have probably made the playoffs that year too. And that would have been despite a terrible year from Owens.

    2006 3rd, 20th, 11th (11.3)*
    2007 10th, 5th, 17th (10.7)*
    2008 22nd, 20th, 8th (16.7)
    2009 15th, 16th, 4th (11.7)*
    2010 29th, 21st, 12th (20.7)
    2011 30th, 25th, 6th (20.3)
    2012 27th, 29th, 26th (27.3)
    2013 18th, 26th, 26th (23.3)
  11. dstovall5

    dstovall5 Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff Percy, as always. This must of have been very tedious, though there's a lot of information in it that shows what our problems have been.

    You can just pretty much just call these the "Romo years", when our team (excluding pass offense) has been ranked worse than 20th, very sad if you ask me. This team has done such a disservice to guy with the garbage they've put around him for the majority of his career. No reason we shouldn't of been able to win a ring with Romo, but it looks like that boat has long sailed.
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  12. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    During the Campo years, the average three-year ranking (excluding pass offense) was higher than any of this team's last 4 seasons, and even higher than Romo's 2008 team (excluding pass offense).

    Here are the average rankings (excluding pass offense) for each QB's teams, adjusted for league size:
    Meredith 10.0 (7.8 in playoff years, 14.7 in non-playoff years)
    Morton 7.3 (made playoffs every year)
    Staubach 8.9 (8.5 in playoff years, 12.3 in non-playoff year)
    White 11.6 (10.8 in playoff years, 16.0 in non-playoff year)
    Aikman 12.1 (7.9 in playoff years, 20.3 in non-playoff years)
    Romo 17.3 (11.2 in playoff years, 21.9 in non-playoff years)
    Wheeltax likes this.
  13. TwoDeep3

    TwoDeep3 Well-Known Member

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    Where in this research do you account for the league's changing its focus from a running league to a passing league and how does that change the way your theory if proffered?

    Not to mention rule changes which make it easier to score.
  14. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Obviously the run stats don't have any less an effect on the teams of the pass-friendly era. If you're asking why, I think the answer is that I'm using rushing touchdowns, as opposed to rushing yards. After all, the idea is to use the stats with the highest win correlations, regardless of era.

    It's also important to remember that changes in the game have no effect on rankings. For example, Staubach's rating would be much, much higher if he played today, but his ranking would stay the same.
  15. casmith07

    casmith07 I'm the best poster in the game!

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    Very telling how our stinky defense has contributed to our playoff woes.

    Great post!
  16. TwoDeep3

    TwoDeep3 Well-Known Member

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    Who composed the offensive pass rating?

    Is this you or is this the way pass ratings are viewed by the league?

    Why is there no category on passing TD's?
  17. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    For the passing rankings, I'm just using the passer rating that the league came up with in 1973. I like to call it pass rating because it's a more precise description of what is actually being measured. (It's sometimes less the "passer's" rating than it is the receiver's). Most people call it QB rating anyway.

    The rankings are where the team's season rating put them that year. For example, in 2008, Romo had a 91.4 (8th) in 13 games, and Johnson a 50.5, and Bolinger a 63.6 in three other games, to combine for a team rating of 84.9 (13th). That's the 13th in...

    2008 13th, 22nd, 20th, 8th (15.8)

    The 22nd is run TD. The 20th is the defensive counterpart to the first stat (what opposing QB did against our defense). The 8th is run TD allowed.

    There is no separate category for passing TD because that's already included in pass rating. The four elements of pass rating are TD%, INT%, comp%, and yards per attempt.
  18. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Offense's average rankings, 2003-13

    2003 23rd, 21st (22.0)
    2004 24th, 13th (18.5)
    2005 12th, 14th (13.0)
    2006 8th, 3rd (5.5)
    2007 4th, 10th (7.0)

    2008 13th, 22nd (17.5)
    2009 6th, 15th (10.5)
    2010 12th, 29th (15.5)
    2011 4th, 30th (17.0)
    2012 9th, 27th (18.0)
    2013 7th, 18th (12.5)
  19. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    It's always interesting hot me that these threads with really high informational content don't get a lot of post traffic or generate more discussion.

    If nothing else, they should put some debates to rest in other threads. Instead, you get a dozen posters saying how much they love them, and then it's business as usual.
    OhSnap likes this.
  20. Wheeltax

    Wheeltax Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff. As with all stats it doesn't tell the whole story, but it offers some perspective.

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