Connect with us

Star Blog

Passion, Penalties and Football

Bryson Treece



Cowboys Blog - Passion, Penalties and Football

There's been some discussion lately since Mo Claiborne and Terrance Williams had a little scuffle during camp on Saturday. Mind you, it was just a heat-of-the-moment skirmish that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. People seem to enjoy that kind of thing. I guess it's because of the passion it takes to push players to the point of fighting. We want things heated and fierce, even in practice. We want the players fired up and ready for some action.

Lords knows that by the time training camp starts, the fans are on edge. We're ecstatic just to see the offseason end.

My part in the discussion at DCN has been that of the antagonist. I think it's great that these guys are getting caught up in it and getting angry over mistakes and failures. But I also believe that sort of fire leads to more mistakes, specifically penalties.

We're all caught up in the stats of the game. We debate the elite status of Tony Romo and can do so until the cows come home. But I tend to side with former Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells - You gotta play mistake-free football.

There are lots of ways to count mistakes on the football field, and many are quite debatable. But the one mistake above reproach is that pesky little yellow flag.

Right or wrong, if the refs throw it and call it, it's done. Another tally in the only stat column nobody wants marked. But much like the discussion about the effects of a bad, good or great running game, I wanted to see how penalties-per-game measured up in the big picture for the Dallas Cowboys.

So here's a chart of the average penalties-per-game and total wins for each season (ties are counted as wins), including denotation of years in which playoff appearances were made and championships won. I figure you just can't get a good look without having some winning seasons and some losing seasons, so it shows 1990-2013 - Jerry's team.

penpgame-wins-90-13bI noticed the years under Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells right away - both coaches enjoyed the lowest penalty average in their time with Dallas. The average of our yearly penalties-per-game since 1990 is 6.51 (the white line across the chart).

At first, there are no discernible patterns that just scream winning formula, but if you keep looking, you'll find that Jerry Jones' Cowboys have only won a single playoff game with an above average number of penalties. Perhaps you see it differently, but I don't think the Eagles were much of a threat in the 2009 playoffs. And the stats seem to support Dallas lucking out with a weak Philadelphia team.

The NFL has a bad case of Goldilocks syndrome when it comes to execution. Too little, too much, too early, too late; if anything isn't just right then it's another yellow flag. When one mistake can blow the game - an errant throw in the 4th, a missed tackle at the eight yard-line, a muffed catch on a punt return - more and more games are becoming a war of attrition.

The team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.

And we're pretty reliable defenders of those mistakes. We routinely defended DeMarcus Ware and his famous post-game referee chats about an errant call for being off-sides. It makes sense. Most of us would be bawling like babies after just one full-speed down with these guys. We excuse players because it's a tough sport that takes an enormous amount of focus and physical ability just to achieve mediocre. Add to it that we favor the teams and players we like the most.

I look at that chart and all I can think is how much a penalty costs. How many times has Dallas driven sixty yards down-field only to reach the red-zone for just a moment before someone's stupid knocks them back five or ten yards? No need to play favorites now. We all know you're saying the same thing when it happens. For that matter, how many times has one stupid been followed up by another on the very next play?

Penalties nullify big gains and huge stops. They back the line of scrimmage up until the QBs ass is against the goal post. They obliterate momentum.

What's the one thing you find in every penalty? A lack of focus. It's not always possible to have enough focus to avoid being drawn off-sides by an excellent cadence and a loud stadium, but focus is the key element, or rather the lack thereof. Taking that focus and building fire and passion around it would be a neat trick, because otherwise those emotions might as well be lye poured on top - Goodbye Focus. You just can't have both, not to any meaningful degree.

So yeah, I like to see these guys with some fight in them. So what if it's only training camp? These guys are fighting for their job, especially on defense. But if they're smart, and we're to have any hope of advancing in the playoffs, then they had best get it out of their system now before a game is on the line.

It only takes a single mistake to crush a gridiron hero, and apparently, it only takes seven mistakes for Dallas to lose a game.

Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

Click to comment

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez



Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady



Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin



Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?

Continue Reading

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here