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Tony Romo and the Statistical Argument, Not the Answers

Bryson Treece

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Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo and the Statistical Argument, Not the Answers

What a difference time makes. I remember way back, when Bleacher Report was just a budding sports blog, writing an article about the 2010 playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. I claimed that the stats of the two teams showed the ‘Boys out-matched the Vikes with Adrian Peterson and the aging Brett Favre.

At the time, the comments seemed like just good debate to me. But now? Some of those guys were on to something.

We turn to stats for everything these days.

Is Tony Romo an elite QB? Show me the numbers.
Was Marion Barber a beast or a bust? Show me the numbers.
Has Head Coach Jason Garrett improved this team? Show me the numbers.

If you want to know who has what bragging rights and why, suddenly it’s Jerry McGuire meets Car Fax commercials. “SHOW ME THE NUMBEEEEERRRRRRSSSSS!!!

Gee, that was obnoxious.

Measuring players, coaches and teams by the numbers has become some convoluted pseudo-science wherein everyone – the media included – takes the numbers supporting their position and dumps the rest. I have to admit, it works just as well to destroy a legacy as it does to stuff it, mount it, and hang it on a trophy wall. But what are we really looking at?

When you’re judging a player on his individual stats, you get a good idea of a few of his tangibles. That’s it. You can pull up stats and frame them any which way but loose and still gain zero perspective on a coach or team. Not to say that stops people from having an outlook with some stats sprinkled in here and there, but it’s the perspective framing the numbers, not the other way around.

Take Dallas’ numbers over the past 14 years.

It’s a handy timeframe because it outlasts every player on the roster. So what? We’re not debating an individual effort here so player stats can stay safely locked away in a room, on a shelf, under some dust, in some old stats book at Jerry’s house. I’m speaking from personal experience here because let’s face it, as a Cowboys fan I’ve been met with every type of assault imaginable.

Just think polar bear in a meat market after hours. That about paints the picture.

The poor schmoes rooting for the likes of Cleveland, Buffalo or Miami get less flack than a Cowboys fan. Apparently there’s some disagreement over this whole America’s Team thing making non-Cowboys fans fling poo like monkeys at the zoo.

Anyway, take those numbers and look at post-season wins, like most people do. Hell, look at post-season wins and losses, because there’s only five. Total. Including that Vikings game. Five times that the Cowboys have suited up in the playoffs since 2000. They lost against Seattle and Minnesota and beat an Eagles team they had literally just beaten the week before.

Fourteen seasons of 8-8 to 13-3 that ended in the same waste bin year after year. If you ask a Cowboys hater, at least. They’d say that, with the brief exceptions of blinding possibility in the years over 16 games, the Dallas Cowboys have done nothing. Certainly not enough to warrant being America’s and God’s team.

Enough drivel already. What’s the point?

Tony Romo is the best quarterback in franchise history. His stats say so and there’s really no rational argument against that. Aikman and Staubach have more to show for their time on the field, but their numbers aren’t as good.

Herein lays the problem – if Aikman and Staubach were so masterful, then why didn’t Aikman lead the Cowboys to that fourth Super Bowl in a decade in 1996?

Aikman was more efficient in 1995. 63.7 completion percentage and 2.8% of passes intercepted in 1996 versus 64.8 completion percentage and 1.6% of passes intercepted in 1995. That translates into just 178 extra yards, or just 11 yards a game. Not exactly game changing right there. But Troy was sacked four more times in 1996 than in 1995. Four sacks that could’ve easily been where those 178 yards were lost.

The only thing significant about the differences in the passing game from ’95 to ’96 is that Michael Irvin had nearly double the receiving yards in 1995 that he had in 1996.

On defense, the 1995 team had 36 sacks, gave up 5,044 yards and 18 TDs, and had a +2 turnover ratio. In ’96 it was more like 37 sacks, 4,382 yards and 24 TDs, with a +4 turnover ratio.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Irvin wasn’t able to produce as well in 1996, though he was still the top receiver for the team. The difference in his stats more than equal the lack of efficiency in Aikman’s game from one year to the next. The championship defense gave up an extra 41 yards per game, had fewer sacks and a worse turnover battle, but gave up fewer scores.

Still not convinced? Of what? Exactly!

Look at the stats any way you choose, they’ll never change, even if the argument they’re being pulled into does. Individual stats belong in that book on a dusty shelf in some baron room at Valley Ranch, if you can’t take them in context.

The bottom line is that no team is made or broken by a single player. Being a team sport, you’d think this point would be too obvious to merit a single utterance, let alone an entire article. But time and time again I open up my favorite sports sites and find people ranting about how great or terrible a player is (usually Tony Romo) and how that player is the primary reason for the woes of a team.

In reality, the need for such an article, for the abundant and elaborate articulation of the fundamental basis and meaning of the term “team sport,” is kicking us right in our jockeys at every turn. Even my own crew at Dallas Cowboys Nation gets caught up in it. Granted, they’re generally trying to dispel the notion that a player (usually Tony Romo) is the sole bearer of all things good and evil during the course of season, but like so many they get so entrenched in the argument that they propagate its very existence.

Now looky here. It’s time for that bullhonkie to end right now.

A team can’t be measured by the successes and failures of one person.

For Cowboys fans, the people of greatest debate tend to be Tony Romo (Wait, what? Really? Stop!), Jason Garrett and Mr. Skeletor himself, Jerry Jones.

Jones and Garrett are probably the most susceptible to this problem because individual performances are part of the team concept they’re charged with cultivating and managing day in, day out. But all too often Romo is cast – simultaneously – as the hero and villain because he’s the field general. He’s the ultimate leader on that field, calling the shots and making decisions that affect every man on that field, yes?

Do you think DeMarcus Ware saw it that way? What about Rod Marinelli, think he saluted Gen. Romo after every down? Name any player in the game and I’ll give you three crucial things he’s got jack-all to do with.

It’s a team sport guys.

If the WRs aren’t up to snuff, the QB won’t be either. If the front seven miss a beat, the backs pay for it. If the offense goes to town strutting around in their party kicks, the defense can settle into a solid prevent formation and win the war. And when that defense gets caught with its head up where the sun don’t shine, the offense becomes predictable and vulnerable.

That’s basically football suicide. Unless you’re playing against the Cowboys 2013 defense.

Call a meeting with God and mold you a hybrid between Manning, Montana, Aikman, Staubach, Young, Favre and Warner that perfectly encompasses every bit of kickass in every one of those great quarterbacks and you know what? He’s still gonna have to pitch it when his line falters!

So don’t tell me Romo’s a choke artist who can’t win the big games.

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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

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5 Comments
  • NYCowboysFan

    Great article that proves any true Cowbys fans point. Romo is a great QB on an average team.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      If only more people would see it for what it is. Hate that the guy catches so much flak when he’s just a small part of it all, even if his part is the most visible part in most games. Thanks for the nod!

  • bleatherman2011

    Just baffles me that so many people listen to ESPN or NFL Network and believe every word they say. Even though it seems some in the media are just now realizing what a lot of Cowboy fans have known for years.
    Also bothers me to see some excuses can be used for other QB’s but not used when it comes to our QB. But, I’ve learned you cant change someone’s mind over these type of things, so I try not to argue with those idiots.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      I generally won’t argue with them, unless I can lay out my full case like this, because they don’t listen and try as hard as they can not to listen. My own sister refers to the man as Choko Homo and I just have to let it go.

      • bleatherman2011

        Yeah, my wide said he sucked and I almost started looking for divorce lawyers.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Estará Dez Bryant de Vuelta en el 2018?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: ¿Estará Dez Bryant de Vuelta en el 2018?

Dez Bryant es ese jugador que incontables veces me hizo gritar y saltar de alegría con sus excepcionales recepciones y su manera de pelear el balón en el aire. Tantos momentos tan memorables con Tony Romo e incluso algunos con Dak Prescott lo han vuelto uno de mis jugadores favoritos…

Pero ahora, después de una difícil temporada de los Dallas Cowboys, los sentimientos están encontrados.

En muchos momentos, no parece que estamos viendo al Dez Bryant de antes. Claro, podemos decidir recordar esa recepción de touchdown que rompió el récord de la franquicia contra los Redskins, o esa escapada de 50 yardas en New York en la semana 14.

Pero Dez no ha sido el mismo las últimas tres temporadas. Y este 2017, todos los momentos de frustración culminaron en el partido que eliminó a los Cowboys de la temporada.

Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a los Seattle Seahawks, un fumble acompañado por un pase soltado de Dez que resultó en una intercepción, todos nos pusimos a pensar.

La cosa no es que Dez Bryant sea un mal receptor. El talento está ahí, y es fácil verlo en ciertas jugadas. A veces es visible cuando atropella a algún defensivo, a veces cuando busca el balón y consigue atraparlo de una manera impresionante.

Quizá el próximo año se sacuda la mala racha que ha tenido los últimos años y encuentre una manera de ser el jugador que alguna vez fue… el problema es la cantidad de dinero que se le paga.

Después de la temporada del 2014, cuando Bryant terminó el año con 16 touchdowns y más de 1,300 yardas, el receptor estrella firmó un contrato por $70M.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen frente a ellos una pregunta muy importante que resolver este offseason.

 

¿Deberían Deshacerse de Dez Bryant?

A pesar de tener una mala racha, la razón por la cual Dallas le diría adiós a Dez es su contrato. Dez está listo para cobrar $16.5M en el 2018 y otros 16 millones y medio en el 2019. De ser cortado, los Cowboys se ahorrarían ocho millones y medio la próxima temporada.

Suficiente dinero para firmar a un jugador que realmente haga impacto esta agencia libre.

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

Normalmente, cuando hablamos de jugadores como él, hay muchos conflictos para los aficionados. Vaya, yo mismo acabo de plantear que es uno de mis jugadores favoritos, pero quizá a veces el cambio es necesario.

Sí, la producción de Dez Bryant no ha sido la misma desde la última temporada que tuvo con Tony Romo. Pero ¿es eso excusa suficiente?

Basta pensar en jugadores como Larry Fitzgerald y DeAndre Hopkins para darse cuenta de que no. Aún con quarterbacks mediocres, ambos se mantienen como receptores de elite en la NFL.

Es cierto que Dak Prescott no es el mismo QB que Romo era, y no es un jugador que vaya a lanzar pases profundos tan frecuentemente como Tony lo hacía, pero eso tampoco significa que sea algo malo necesariamente.

Este equipo le construyó un equipo a su ex-mariscal para sacarle todo el provecho al #9. Es hora de hacer lo mismo por Dak Prescott.

Insisto en que los Cowboys tienen que buscar a un WR tan pronto como en la primera ronda del NFL Draft o incluso hasta en agencia libre.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen tantas cosas que hacer antes de la próxima temporada y decidir que hacer con uno de sus jugadores más emblemáticos de la actualidad, Dez Bryant, es una de ellas.

¿Les gustaría ver a Dez Bryant de vuelta en el 2018?

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys en Español: ¿Estará Dez Bryant de Vuelta en el 2018?” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!

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Star Blog

Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

The Dallas Cowboys clearly had a specific role in mind for Ryan Switzer when they drafted him 133rd overall in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Come to find out, that role didn’t include being involved much on the offensive side of the ball, at least not as a rookie.

After watching the way the Cowboys utilized Ryan Switzer in 2017, it’s pretty obvious the sole purpose he was drafted was to improve the special-teams play in the return game.

They clearly didn’t envision him being a part of the game plan on offense, despite the continuous outcry from fans.

Like most rookies, Ryan Switzer didn’t really get off to a fast start, and took a while to get used to the speed of the NFL. But, once he calmed his nerves and regained his confidence, he proved to be an upgrade in the return game.

Switzer ended up ranking third in kickoff returns, averaging 25 yards per return in 2017 and 12th in punt returns with almost 9 yards per return.

He also became the first Dallas Cowboys player to return a punt for a touchdown since 2013. He accomplished this against the Washington Redskins, in Week 13 when he took an 83-yarder to the house.

Surprisingly enough, using Ryan Switzer solely as a return specialist wasn’t enough for a lot of Cowboys Nation. A lot of fans wanted to see his talents utilized more on the offensive side of the ball as well, but were only left disappointed.

Ryan Switzer

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer

Getting Switzer involved in the offensive game plan just wasn’t in the cards in 2017.

He only managed to catch six passes for 41 yards and rushed four times for 5 yards. This isn’t exactly what Cowboys fans envisioned after hearing Switzer was opening a lot eyes in training camp and organized team activities (OTAs). That was the main problem.

He was hyped up so much heading into the season that fans expected to see him involved much more on offense.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, had something else in mind, but I doubt that’s the case for the upcoming 2018 season.

I really think we’re going to see an increased role for Ryan Switzer next season.

The Cowboys coaching staff should have a much better understanding of his strengths and weaknesses now that he has a year in the system under his belt. And, they’ve seen firsthand how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands.

What the Cowboys coaching staff will have to determine this offseason is just how big of a role Switzer will have next year.

Should Switzer take Cole Beasley‘s job?

Cole Beasley, like the rest of the Cowboys receivers, had a down year in 2017. We shouldn’t assume that his job is safe, especially with someone like Ryan Switzer waiting in the wings. But, is Switzer ready to take over full-time?

Tough decisions will have to be made eventually, but such is life in the NFL.

Will Ryan Switzer see an increased offensive role in 2018?

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Star Blog

Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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