Cowboys offense must improve scoring efficiency

Cowboys offense must improve scoring efficiency

Credit: AP

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) pats wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during an organized team activity at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, Monday, May 17, 2010. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


by Joe Trahan/WFAA-TV

Posted on May 18, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 29 at 4:56 PM

The Cowboys back on the field for organized team activities no doubt has the Cowboys nation excited about the possibilities.  Especially for an offense bolstered with a play-making 1st round pick and a veteran receiver looking to prove it’s not the rookie’s time just yet.  But receiver Roy Williams and Dez Bryant adding more big-play options for Tony Romo won’t be enough.

For the Cowboys to end their 14-year Super Bowl drought, the offense has to become more efficient when it comes to the offense using it weapons when points are on the line, and I’ve got numbers to back up that statement.

The Cowboys have failed to take advantage of the NFC’s revolving Super Bowl door – the Saints making it 9 straight years that a different team has represented the NFC in the league’s title game.

This past season, the Cowboys showed they’re close, but their season ending beat down at the hands of the Vikings proving there’s still a long way to go.

And I’ve done some research to show at least one facet of the game where they need to improve significantly.

That Viking game underscored what I’m talking about – by early in the second quarter in Minnesota, the Cowboys had racked up 127 yards and made 3 trips inside the Vikings 35 yard line, but scored just 3 points.  Its easy to point a finger at the Cowboys kicking woes last season, but I contend its more than that and let’s get to why.

In the 2009 season, the Cowboys shattered the team record for yards gained from scrimmage, but their 361 points were more than 100 points shy of that team record.

So, I’ve come up with a stat that illustrates how the Cowboys scoring efficiency compares to where it needs to be.   I’ve dubbed it “Points per hundred” as in yards.  Former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells used to say good teams score a touchdown per 100 yards gained.

Here’s the formula:  a team’s offensive scoring output (that’s total points scored minus defensive and special team scores.)  Take that offensive scoring number and divide it by total yards from scrimmage and multiply that number by 100.  I know, the math can get boring, but hang with me.

Let’s plug in the numbers.  The Cowboys scored 340 offensive points – divide that by 6,390 yards and multiply by a hundred.  You get an average of 5.3 points per 100 yards gained.  I ran the numbers for each playoff team last season and the Cowboys “points per hundred” number is the lowest of any playoff team.  “We know what kind of offense we had last season,” said receiver Roy Williams, “we just couldn’t score; we could move the ball on anybody we just couldn’t score.”

And for another comparison – I ran the number of each Super Bowl team for the last 5 years.  The average “points per hundred” number is 7.1, and the lowest of the 10 – 6.5.  Tight end Jason Witten says finishing off drives is something the offense will harp on heading into the season, “that’s been a huge focus for us offensively, that red zone area, just gotta take advantage of it when we get there.”

So, its easy to see the Cowboys points per hundred number of 5.3 is nowhere near being efficient enough to be championship caliber.    They’ve already addressed the kicking issue – Sean Suisham is long gone.

Now, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo must evolve and improve.  Romo did a great job cutting down on turnovers – he threw just 9 interceptions.  The next step – make decisions more efficiently when points are at stake.

“Sometimes you got to come up with little different things to allow your team to gain an advantage, so we’re looking into all those things,” said quarterback Tony Romo,  “like I said, sometimes its just the toughness to do things a little bit longer, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger.”

While Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips may call “points per hundred” a baseball stat, the numbers create a compelling case.  For Dallas to end their Super Bowl drought, Romo, Garrett and company will have to devise a better plan to make use of all those weapons at their disposal.