Cowboys 2012: The offense that needed change

BY foxsports • July 29, 2013

I was asked by one of you to review the final results of
Decoding Garrett 2012.  For those new to this space, you may be
interested in knowing that since 2008, we have cataloged each offensive snap
of the Cowboys from a standpoint of personnel group and then what type of play
it was (run or pass).  This helps us track the progress of the offense
in greater detail than your average analysis piece, but more importantly, it
helps us compare apples to apples when looking at how the team is doing offensively.

Given that play calling
has been delegated to Bill Callahan in 2013, we do have the opportunity to
re-name this study, but I do think since Garrett is still the mastermind behind
the offense and the man sitting at the head of the table when game plans are
designed, we likely will keep it just the same.
For those who are new, the reason we look at the
offense from a personnel grouping point of view, is that it replicates the
actual discussions that the coaches actually have - rather than this fantasy
football viewpoint that many fans obsess over this time of year.  If
you play fantasy football, that is all fine - millions do, but it has very
little use from a "real football" standpoint.

Teams do not care about personal
statistics and they understand how a player drawing coverage is just as
valuable to the big picture as his teammate who is making all of the catches as
a direct beneficiary of the player who is drawing the coverage.  Dez
Bryant, in other words, can really help the team with a 2-catch performance,
but his fantasy owners will be angry.  Here, in this space, we don't
care at all about fantasy football implications.  There are plenty of
places on the internet for you to get that information and
Here, we
are attempting to see what the real performances mean, what Jason Witten's
coverage means to Bryant, what play-action passing does to the safeties, and
what a real running game could do to the linebackers in helping free up the
shallow routes.  

It also keeps us from getting caught up in the raw numbers of
statistics and how
misleading the Cowboys yardage totals were in 2012 and how meaningless they
truly were
in terms of the win-loss totals.

Garrett cannot believe that his offense was one of the more
productive offenses in the NFL.  There is simply no way he believes that.

Incidentally, the 376 points they
scored in 2012 ranks them 10th in the NFC out of 16 teams.  That is 1
point better than the Bears, 4 points better than the Lions.  And
exceedingly more productive than the Panthers, Rams, Eagles, or Cardinals.
 So there is that.

They were 6th in the entire NFL
in yardage, but I think most of us watched enough Cowboys football this year to
see that much of that came during abnormally long stretches of "garbage
time" football that the Cowboys offered in a number of home blowout

Regardless of the results of 2012 and the reasons the Cowboys compiled
impressive and hollow production numbers, the point is that they did move the
ball with the effectiveness of a playoff team, and yet missed the playoffs.  Most
times and in most places, it then is time to blame the defense.  Not
here.  We remained steadfast in the idea that the Cowboys offense -
with very acceptable levels of health all season - was as frustrating and
ineffective as it has been under Garrett.
They had garbage time yards and that was pretty
much the sum total of the year.  More
from what we wrote in February

 overall, with roughly 3 games where you say
the offense did what it needed to do (at NY, at Balt, and Pittsburgh) and 13
other games where the offense needed to show more than what it did to get good
grades, I have very little use for hearing where it ranked in yards and points.
 Granted, in some of those 13, the Cowboys showed great grit and
determination, but nobody would confuse will with a fantastic offensive
performance.  And least they

This offense was almost
completely spared of injuries (comparatively speaking) and yet did not live up
to the resources invested in it by any stretch of the imagination.
 Looking at boxscores and totaling numbers is fun, but meaningless if
you are constantly falling behind and then facing prevents to catch up.
 Those numbers don't matter at

I appreciate the man defending
his performance and thereby, his job security, but I found his optimistic
appraisal of 2012 and the offense's performance to be misleading and I bet he
would agree once he dug a little deeper - which I know he has in

Below are the final numbers from a
standpoint of production per personnel grouping.  I assume everyone is
up to speed on the definition of each of the groups, but if you are not,
please click on this link and read up.

Package Plays Yards Run Pass
11 72 359 48-233 24-126
12 143 767 65-251 78-516
13 27 125 19-84 8-41
21 121 820 66-286 55-534
22 73 272 58-165 15-107
23 35 57 31-53 4-4
S01 28 159 0-0 28-159
S10 1 0 0-0 1-10
S11 479 3141 46-188 433-2953
S12 42 0 1--1 41-256
Totals 1029 5967 335-1256 694-4731

Granted, that is a lot of numbers.  And without
explanation, it can certainly be confusing.  So, just direct your
attention to "S11" which is their default setting for the 2-minute
drill, 3rd Down offense, and of course, the "we are way behind and need to
pass every down to have any chance" offense.  And, as you can
see, that was nearly half of their snaps and over half of their production from
last year.  

And that is very bad.
We elaborated on the
evils of S11 in this study which looked at 6 years of the Garrett
from back in the spring.
Now, let's look at the same chart from above,
except below, we will show you the yards per play in each category to show the
production levels for each situation.

Package Plays Yards Run
- Avg
Pass - Avg
11 72 359 48
- 4.85
24 - 5.25
12 143 767 65
- 3.86
78 - 6.62
13 27 125 19
- 4.42
8 - 5.13
21 121 820 66
- 4.33
55 - 9.71
22 73 272 58
- 2.84
15 - 7.13
23 35 57 31
- 1.71
4 - 1.00
S01 28 159 0
- 0.00
28 - 5.68
S10 1 0 0
- 0.00
1 - 10.00
S11 479 3141 46
- 4.09
433 - 6.82
S12 42 0 1
- -1.00
41 - 6.24
Totals 1029 5967 335
- 3.75
694 - 6.82

Now this shows the performances with a bit better clarity.  If you look at the running averages in the "21", "22", and "23" packages, where the Cowboys ran 155 runs for only 504 yards for only 3.25 yards per run, you now see why they don't have use for a fullback anymore. They were awful running with a fullback. Not saying it is all Lawrence Vickers fault, but rather that defenses would stack the line when Vickers was in the game and the Cowboys OL had no answer for the physical run defenses.
also spent very little time in an "under center" offense, which then
prevents from ever using play action passing or a balanced offense at
So, there is
a review of the 2012 offense.  Don't be fooled by the rankings or the
yardages or the fantasy football points.  This offense was very poor
and needs to get better.

They know this and now look forward to their all new and hopefully
improved look in 2013.