I'm a stats man and perhaps that is some of the pull of the NFL for an Englishman who has never donned shoulder pads, other than the smaller foam ones worn playing rugby.
One of my favourites to follow on Twitter is @BalesFootball because of the stats he uses to back up his arguments relating to Cowboys football. If you read back through his tweets, you will see a few of his muses come up time and time again:
- Randle is too small and slow to be a productive NFL running back.
- Witten’s yards-per-catch is dropping and his production will tail off this year.
- The Cowboys should continue to throw the ball on 1st down even at the risk of putting you in 2nd & long.
- Selvie has the length to be an elite defensive end.
- Cole Beasley is limited in what he can do so why not upgrade the wide receiver position in the draft?
Well the Cowboys did select a WR in this years draft, although not until Devin Street in the 5th round, and Bales would have preferred targeting a big man and moving Dez or Williams to the slot. How frustrating is it when Dallas moves the ball efficiently only to find themselves in a 3rd & 4 situation and unable to move the chains?
Last year the Cowboys converted on just 63 of 180 attempts (35%).  Well this is why I love Cole Beasley and hope that he sees the field more in 2014.
After the discussion arose on Twitter I mentioned that someone should look at the number of targets on 3rd down and relate this to completions and 1st downs. Well, why don’t I do it myself? 
[table id=8 /]
We must remember that this is a small sample size and Beasley had only been in the league one year so opposing defences may not have been focused on him, but how good are these numbers? Firstly, let's have a look at the second best wide receiver in the game (behind #88 of course!):
[table id=9 /]
Since 2006, Lance Moore and Marques Colston lead the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage with 54 percent. Wes Welker, with a similar body type to Beasley, ranks 5th.
[table id=10 /]
What is also evident is that both Moore and Colston played in New Orleans during this time. The 3rd down statistics of these two players clearly benefited not only by the quarterback throwing them the ball, Drew Brees, but by playing with each other and therefore drawing coverage away from the other. Perhaps the lack of a running game and another true receiving threat outside of perhaps Jason Witten explains why Dez Bryant’s conversion percentage is just 41.
If Beasley can continue at the conversion rate of 2013 (in the SF game Beasley was 2 of 3 and both for 1st downs, that’s a 66% catch and conversion), and perhaps Gavin Escobar also fulfill his potential, then opposing defences would need to focus their attention on a number of targets on 3rd down. This can only benefit the single true game changing receiver on this roster and his big play ability.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
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