Go back to the year 2014 with me. Disney's Frozen opens the year as the number-one film in the United States (Thank God we let that go, just kidding the soundtrack is amazing), "Happy" by Pharrell is the number one song of the year (you can clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do), and DeMarco Murray is a good football player.
The Dallas Cowboys had one of the most dominant running games across the NFL in 2014, but that performance transcended far more than that specific season. It was one of the greatest team rushing performance of all time.
Last week I debuted my Price Per Yard methodology and applied it to the 2013 season. You can wet your palate with that appetizer, because today is the main course - 2014's Price Per Yard. Bon appetit.
Price Per Yard: The 2014 Season
I want to reiterate that when it comes to Price Per Yard there is no indisputable winner. This is all data. Numbers. Math. Excel! What it is not is an inconclusive answer. It is up to you, the well-educated and great-taste-having reader, to discern what you will. We're drawing conclusions based on 100% facts. Vamonos.
2014 NFC Price Per Yard
** Click the image to zoom in.
I know, St. Louis and Green Bay are absent. I had a difficult time gathering data for any year regarding the Rams (data was sourced from Spotrac.com), I'm assuming that it has to do with the move to Los Angeles. Similarly I failed to gather the 2014 Packers data, probably because they were scared of the Cowboys.
If you look at Price Per Yard simply as a number, even though you're not supposed to, it would appear that the Dallas Cowboys were kings of 2014 (real kings, not the ever-passing throne HBO shows us on Sundays in the spring); however, in this specific instance, you would be right!
Dallas paid by far the least per yard in the NFC in 2014 and gained the most yards by a significant margin. This means that they're flat out robbing the NFL when it comes to yards on the ground!
We'll circle back to the Cowboys in a bit, let's first look at the rest of the conference. Everyone here... is terrible.
It's fair to remember that the Vikings technically had Adrian Peterson on the books for 2014 and had his situation arise, but there's no excuse for teams like Chicago, Carolina, Tampa Bay, or San Francisco to be devoting so much to the "run game" when they're yielding such poor returns.
The Eagles look like they're really bad at this, but in reality they just have fine taste when it comes to the running game and are willing to pay for it. If you look at it closely while, yes, the Eagles are paying a premium they're also getting one back. Their return is typically matching their investment, at least compared to the rest of the conference, which ultimately is the primary point of Price Per Yard.
2014 AFC Price Per Yard
Shout out to the 2014 American Football Conference for having all of its data available to collect! Huzzah!
A big-time shout out needs to be sent from Baltimore Ravens fans to Justin Forsett, because he allowed them to flourish on the ground in 2014 and have the lowest numerical Price Per Yard in the NFL this season.
The Ravens were the Cowboys of the AFC in that they paid the least AND gained the most. This is, shocker I know, the most exceptional performance that can be achieved.
So much has been made about Joe Flacco's contract and how it's handicapped the Ravens' ability to do a lot financially. When teams are in situations like that it's critical to get insane production for a low-dollar elsewhere, like the Ravens are doing here. If you're Baltimore then you're investing where it matters (Flacco) and where you're investing minimally you're seeing the greatest return in the NFL. That's incredible.
The 2014 Tennessee Titans are among the worst teams that I've seen while gathering Price Per Yard data (I charted 2013-2015). They paid a significantly larger amount per yard and gained significantly less on the ground. So where the Titans think they're strong (at least that's what their money says) they're actually among the weakest in the field. Ouchie.
The Bengals are showing us here what success (from a PPY perspective) can be had with rookie running backs. Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill comprised a majority of their yards (which were a ton) and were both on rookie deals. This point circles back to last week's post in that if you hit on your rookie talent, you're going to get an insane bang for your buck.
The last point that I want to make in the AFC is that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't as great as we necessarily think that they are. While Le'Veon Bell is still on his own rookie deal and is performing at a high rate, it's not high enough comparable to the NFL. The Steelers aren't investing a whole lot, but they're also not yielding an elite product. You get what you pay for, and the Steelers are paying for someone who is just good enough.
Price Per Yard: Applying The Base Value
Hey-o! We've got percentages now! We're really cooking!
I'll save you some time and give you the sparknotes version of where these come from. Obviously you know what each team's rushing total is, how much they spent on it, and their corresponding Price Per Yard. What you need to know is how good that is relative to something good - The Base Value.
I generated a base value based on the notion that being in the Top 10 is a good thing. Right? Right! I averaged the Top 10 rushing yardage totals and their corresponding Price Per Yards to determine a BV that we could compare everyone to.
Using this BV it's even more apparent that the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens were among the best teams at Price Per Yard that I've ever seen over my three seasons of study. They paid the lowest value PPY and gained the most yards on the ground. It's absurd when you really think about it.
Let's look at the 2014 Giants for example. They paid 48.55% more per yard and gained 43.50% less yards! That's horrible! The Giants literally paid more than twice per yard than the Cowboys and achieved less than half the rushing yards in return!
The Texans are almost the poster boys for average Price Per Yard in this season. They paid 5.42% more per yard, but they gained 6.23% more yards. In theory if you pay X more per yard you should have a return equal to X when it comes to yards. The 2014 Houston squad did just that.
Price Per Yard: The 2014 Dallas Cowboys
I'm going to be honest with you here. This is the greatest team that I have ever seen at Price Per Yard in my study.
Did the Dallas Cowboys have the lowest numerical Price Per Yard in 2014 ($10,542.90)? No.
Remember that the BV is an averaging of the Top 10 teams. Remember that the Cowboys are number one on that list. Remember that these Cowboys were the only team to crack 2,000 yards on the ground.
REMEMBER THAT THE DALLAS COWBOYS PAID THE SECOND LOWEST AMOUNT OF DOLLARS PER YARD AND GAINED THE MOST IN THE ENTIRE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE!
That. Is. Incredible.
This Cowboys unit paid 33.72% percent less per yard than the BV (again, these are the Top 10 teams not just some chumps). They also out-gained the yardage BV by 26.07%! What in the world!
The Ravens, who are admittedly very good at this, did pay 36.31% percent less per yard. They also out-gained the yardage BV by a measly 6.73%.
The second highest margin that a team out-gained the yardage BV by is in fact those Ravens. The Dallas Cowboys added 20% to that! That is unprecedented!
What the 2014 Dallas Cowboys accomplished when it comes to Price Per Yard is among the greatest financial return on investments that we have ever seen in NFL History.
The impetus for Price Per Yard was actually the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. It fascinated me to consider that in a year with such high production gained, so little was invested to achieve that result. Price Per Yard proves that through 100% irrefutable evidence.
The 2014 season is the second installment in my Price Per Yard series. You can see the first one from last week here, and look forward to my analysis of the 2015 season next Monday (July 18th). July 25th will be an analysis of all three seasons, and August 1st will be a projection into 2016.
If you have any comments or questions about Price Per Yard, the philosophy behind it, the formula that went into it, or just simply want to talk and/or debate it... you can comment below, email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa.
How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore
You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.
In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.
In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.
And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.
The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.
Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.
Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.
They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.
Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.
But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.
Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.
Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.
So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3
Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.
Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.
Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.
The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.
Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.
This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.
Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.
Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.
Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.
Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real
Después de dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, una cosa ha quedado más que clara. La defensiva del coordinador defensivo Rod Marinelli ha demostrado que es realmente buena. No como en otros años, que nos conformábamos con que la defensiva dejará avanzar y cediera tres puntos hasta que se rompía en el último cuarto.
No, ahora es diferente. Este año, los Dallas Cowboys tienen presión al QB opuesto. No sólo DeMarcus Lawrence, sino Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory y recientemente, los linebackers. Hemos visto a Jaylon Smith y Damien Wilson brindar presión y sobre todo, llegar a sus objetivos.
Los linebackers no han brillado sólo en esto, sino en otros ámbitos defensivos, como cobertura aérea y más. Incluso Joe Thomas ha logrado mantener su nivel que vimos en pretemporada cuando se le ha pedido entrar al campo.
Y en cuanto a la secundaria, no podríamos estar más agradecidos con la actuación de nuestros cornerbacks. Byron Jones está jugando a un nivel increíble. La semana pasada, Eli Manning sólo se atrevió a lanzar el balón en su dirección en cinco ocasiones. En esas cinco, consiguió sólo un pase completo para cero yardas. Chidobe Awuzie también ha tenido un gran inicio al 2018, manteniendo un nivel de juego consistente y efectivo. Estamos hablando de que el domingo pasado, estos dos cornerbacks se enfrentaron a uno de los mejores WR en la NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.
Finalmente, la posición de safety se ha visto como la unidad más débil en la defensiva. Jeff Heath es un titular promedio y Kavon Frazier tiene mucho camino por recorrer. Afortunadamente, hay esperanza de que Xavier Woods regrese de lesión este domingo.
A pesar de que en el 2016 todos veíamos a la ofensiva como nuestro futuro, es sorprendente el nivel que ha mostrado la defensiva. Es más agresiva, más efectiva y más confiable que en otros años. No podemos subestimar la llegada del coach Kris Richard al equipo.
Sobre todo después de que en el partido contra los New York Giants y los Carolina Panthers se demostró que Richard está involucrado directamente con las decisiones de las jugadas que se ejecutarán en el campo. Incluso Marinelli no tuvo problemas admitiendo que efectivamente, Richard estaba ganándose un rol en este aspecto.
Esto es muy relevante para los Dallas Cowboys, pues una de las cosas más destacadas que hemos visto las últimas semanas es el usaje de cargas o "blitzes" especiales en varias oportunidades. Incluyendo tercer down y largo.
Es algo que no habíamos visto nunca con el conservador Marinelli y que claramente es producto de Richard. Este personaje que viene de los Seattle Seahawks continua emergiendo como un candidato real al puesto de coordinador defensivo en el 2019 o quien sabe, quizá sea nombrado head coach si las cosas comienzan a ir mal para este equipo.
Sin duda alguna, la defensiva ha demostrado que es muy confiable y real. Es tiempo de que la ofensiva de Dallas responda a esto y comience a mover más las cadenas y sobre todo, aprovechar las oportunidades que tengan de anotar touchdowns. Empezar a depender de goles de campo nunca sale bien.
Sobre la llegada de Brice Butler
Increíblemente, Brice Butler regresó a los Dallas Cowboys, incluso después de todos los comentarios que hizo en ciertos programas de televisión. La primera reacción al respecto fue de confusión; ¿por qué regresar con un receptor que nunca fue tan especial y que habló tanto de Dallas?
La respuesta a esta pregunta se esclareció un poco este jueves por la noche cuando surgieron los rumores de que Terrance Williams, quien fue arrestado en el offseason por intoxicación pública, podría ser suspendido pronto por la NFL.
Esto probablemente no sucederá antes del partido de la semana 3, pero de todas maneras explica mucho sobre el último movimiento de los Cowboys.
En un partido bastante cerrado, creo que la defensiva de los Dallas Cowboys hará lo suficiente para llevarse la victoria. Es de suma importancia derribar a Russell Wilson y sobre todo, que la ofensiva tenga su mejor actuación de la campaña. La defensiva de Seahawks es bastante efectiva y no será sencillo vencerlos.
Marcador: Dallas Cowboys 21 - Seattle Seahawks 17
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