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Off-Season Priority #1: Find A Running Game

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by TheFinisher, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. wick

    wick Active Member

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    This isn't rocket science. Look at the factors that most strongly correlate to winning. From those, eliminate factors that are not causal. For example, rushing attempts correlate strongly to winning, but it's the winning that causes the high number of rushing attempts because the team is ahead and attempting to run out the clock. From the pool of remaining factors, take steps to shore up obvious deficiencies while ensuring that strengths remain strong.

    I don't pay attention to the advanced stats, but my guess is that we are reasonably good at passing the ball on offense other than the interceptions. So the big thing there is cutting down on turnovers. The real problem appears to be on defense, where we stink at defending the pass *and* force few interceptions. That's a deadly combo.

    I'll also note our poor showing defensively contrasted with the amount of money spent in the secondary as meaning some combination of the following:

    • Bad player evaluations
    • Poor defensive scheme
    • Current NFL rules make it hard for secondary players to have a great impact on the game

    I don't think it's the first point, which leaves the second two. To create turnovers, you need players looking at the quarterback. That means playing zone. We favor man-to-man coverage. And since rules are heavily slanted toward the offense, I just don't think you can put the kind of resources we have into the secondary and expect that alone to be the solution. I think you negatively impact an opponent's passing game with pass rush to a much greater degree than with secondary play.

    Putting all of this together, I think the 2013 Cowboys need three things:

    1. Romo has to take better care of the ball
    2. We need to play more zone coverage
    3. We need a better pass rush
  2. Reverend Conehead

    Reverend Conehead Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I would say our number one priority is to vastly improve our o-line, and a good running game is a close second. Obviously, the two are highly interrelated because you don't get a good running game without a good line.
  3. wick

    wick Active Member

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    Why try to shore up an area (running the ball) that is not one of the main reasons why teams win or lose? If a team had limitless resources, then sure, improve the running game as you are improving everything else. But each team has a finite number of resources. Doesn't it make more sense to determine which factors cause winning or losing and dedicate your resources to improving those and not worrying about the rest?

    I'm all for improving the offensive line, but it's due to the expected improvement of the passing game as a result.
  4. CowboyRoy

    CowboyRoy Active Member

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    Who is better Brady or Brady with a run game? Brees, or Brees with a run game? These top QB's consitently keep these guys competitive, but not one of them has dominated the last 10 years with championships. You combine one of those guys with a great run game and you have the makings of something unstoppable for all occassions.

    Ironically, if you recall Peyton. The year he won a SB, they rushed for 200 yards in the SB. Brees, the year he won, they had that defense that led the league in turnovers. Rogers, the same thing with the defense.
  5. CowboyRoy

    CowboyRoy Active Member

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    Unreal that someone can come up with such a horrible theory after just witness a team run for 250 yards and 3 TD's while thier QB basically took the day off. LOL

    In the snow, the rain, windy days, when your QB is banged up, or when the pass just isnt working the team with the better run game is going to get the job done.

    Its hilarious to have to try and explain the importance of the run game to a Cowboys fan after watching emmitt and the best Dynasty in the NFL during the 90's.
  6. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Right. At the extreme, this reminds me of the old wishbone teams who might throw the ball four times a game, but might average 25 yards per completion. Obviously they passed very efficiently, but they were able to do so because of the threat of the run.

    A better example at first glance would be Elway not winning the Superbowl until Shanahan got them running it so well with Terrell Davis. Don't have long to investigate it right now, but Elway had higher passer ratings in 97 and 98 than the earlier losing SB teams that he had to carry.

    Of course the modern spread type offenses and rules enforcement changes since 2004 or so have made it a lot easier to pass all the time and win. But I still think it's easier to have a higher YPA and lower INT rate if defenses have to worry at least a little bit about the run.
  7. Reverend Conehead

    Reverend Conehead Well-Known Member

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    Shore up the o-line because no team is ever successful without winning in the trenches. Get a quality o-line and you simultaneously improve the running game because you become better at opening up running lanes. We already have an outstanding runner in DeMarco Murray. He's just injured too much. So the improvement in the running game can be handled as simply as drafting (or signing a free agent) a decent RB to share duties with Murray, thus reducing the chances of his being hurt.
  8. wick

    wick Active Member

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    No, it's unreal that somebody would use an atypical result as the basis for constructing a team. Sure, you can always have a game where the prevailing causes for winning and losing don't determine the result. But that doesn't mean you make that a strategy for a 16-game season. The stats are what they are, and they show that effectiveness passing the ball impacts winning and losing to a much greater degree than rushing effectiveness.
  9. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    It makes sense, if that counts for anything. ;)

    But it can't be emphasized enough that there is no difference between achieving a higher YPA and lower INT rate, and having a defense that changes your opponent's corresponding numbers to the same degree in the opposite direction.
  10. wick

    wick Active Member

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    I'm sure there are much more advanced stats that can be used, but it's interesting to take a look at how playoff teams fared in two rough estimates of offensive success: yards per rush and yards per pass.

    With yards per rush, six playoff teams rank in the top half of the league in that department and six rank in the bottom half, including both top seeds and three of the four teams with a first-round bye.

    Ten of the 12 playoff teams rank in the top half of the league in yards per pass. The two that don't are the fifth seed in the AFC (Indianapolis) and the sixth seed in the NFC (Minnesota).
  11. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    It doesn't matter how you score, as long as you score.
  12. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Oh, no doubt. A better defense can only help no matter what your offense is doing. There is a reason Trent Dilfer has a Superbowl ring.
  13. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    Scroll back through this thread. That theory has already been debunked with facts. We were one of the best short-yardage running teams in the NFL this season.
  14. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Any stat that matters for you, matters just as much for your opponent.

    If you're going to look at yards per attempt for your team, you also have to look at how well your defense is controlling your opponent's yards per attempt.
  15. CowboyStar88

    CowboyStar88 Well-Known Member

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    I love that kid down in Florida #23 Mike Gilislee I think can be a real good back at the next level. He was basically the Gators offense this past season. He has good speed, nice quickness, great cutting ability. He can block and catch. He would probably go 4th rd I would imagine. But man I would love to snag him. I think he could be the answer at RB.
  16. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    Actually, it's hilarious to see someone who still thinks that the key to winning in the NFL is how well you run the ball (or stop the run). That is virtually irrelevant.
  17. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    Here are all 32 teams' percentage of running plays on first or second downs in the first three quarters of games with the score within 7 points, minus the last two minutes of the first half. This should eliminate almost all situations when a team has to throw the ball or is simply trying to run out the clock.

    Code:
    1. KAN	67.72	
    2. WAS	63.01	(division champion, No. 4 seed)
    3. MIN	62.85	(wild-card team)
    4. NYJ	62.81
    5. SEA	62.34	(wild-card team)
    6. BUF	55.75
    7. TEN	55.21
    8. CAR	54.89
    9. BAL	54.08	(division champion, No. 4 seed)
    10. JAX	53.93
    11. ARI	53.66
    12. SFO	53.56	(division champion, No. 2 seed)
    13. MIA	53.42
    14. STL	53.35
    15. CHI	53.13
    16. OAK	52.01
    17. CLE	51.58
    18. NYG	50.69
    19. PIT	50.23
    20. TAM	49.87
    21. IND	49.29	(wild-card team)
    [b]22. DAL	49.01[/b]
    23. DET	48.86
    24. HOU	48.70	(division champion, No. 3 seed)
    25. SDG	47.79
    26. PHI	47.72
    27. CIN	47.34	(wild-card team)
    28. GNB	46.19	(division champion, No. 3 seed)
    29. NWE	46.14	(division champion, No. 2 seed)
    30. NOR	45.08
    31. DEN	44.72	(division champion, No. 1 seed)
    32. ATL	41.46	(division champion, No. 1 seed)
  18. wick

    wick Active Member

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    I agree, which is why two of the three factors I listed for improvement are on the defensive side of the ball.
  19. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Of course, but how many TD per possession did each team score?
  20. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Wow. This is interesting.

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