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Why Dak Prescott should run more and why he should stop throwing to Ezekiel

in Fragen vor der Anschaffung 06.11.2018 02:31
von panxing18 | 336 Beiträge

Elliott Over the last few weeks Youth Connor Williams Jersey , Daniel Houston, who goes by the handle @CowboysStats on Twitter, has been tearing it up on social media with his look at the 2018 Cowboys through the lens of EPA (Expected Points Added). I started looking at EPA way back in 2010, and my interest in the metric was rekindled by Houston, so today we’re taking an EPA deep dive to understand what’s working for the Cowboys offense and what isn’t.What is EPA?EPA is calculated by taking the expected point value (based on the league average results for that specific down, distance, and field position) before a play is run, and then subtracting it from the expected point value of after a play is run.The EPA for any given play is a value between -7 and +7. A positive value means the play result contributed positively towards a score, a negative result means the play decreased the team’s odds of scoring. EPA starts with the basic premise that not all yards are created equal. For example, a three-yard gain on 3rd-and-2 is much more valuable than a seven-yard gain on 3rd-and-8. Any measure of success must consider the down and distance situation, otherwise you’re firmly in the realm of fantasy football. ESPN explained the concept in a little more detail when they started using EPA back in 2012: “Success rate” (gaining 40% of the necessary yardage on first down, 60% on second down and 100% on third and fourth downs) is a term that is being used with increasing frequency by NFL observers and probably even some teams. That’s laudable for a sport where a Super Bowl-winning coach can say things like “Stats are for losers. Final scores are for winners,” and still be taken seriously in 2018 by beer-bellied sportswriters who still think it’s 1975.But relying on success rate leads teams to focus on maximizing success rather than maximizing the likelihood of scoring - which EPA focuses on. For example, on 2nd-and-short, EPA suggests teams should probably be throwing down the field. But in many cases they do not, preferring instead to run the ball and thereby improving their success rate and not necessarily their likelihood of scoring.Points, Not YardsUsing EPA (courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com), I can tell you exactly what each play so far in 2018 was worth. The highest value non-TD pass? Dak Beasley’s 16-yard reception on 4th-and-3 in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks. EPA: 4.36The most costly turnover? Dak Prescott’s sack and fumble in the fourth quarter against the Panthers. EPV: - 4.09The highest value run? Prescott’s conversion on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter against the Giants. EPV: 2.45Most costly play allowed? Russell Wilson’s 52-yard TD pass on 3rd-and-9 to Tyler Lockett that put the Seahawks up 14-3. EPV: -6.04Highest value defensive play? Damien Wilson’s sack of Eli Manning and subsequent fumble recovery by Taco Charlton. EPV: 4.832018 EPAEarlier this week, Daniel Houston published the cumulative EPA for the Cowboys offense over the first three weeks:Inspired by Houston’s efforts, I decided to take a look at the 2018 EPA for the Cowboys’ offensive personnel, but instead of looking at the cumulative numbers, I chose to look at the EPA per play for the first three games.Before we look at the specific results of those games, keep in mind that three games is stilla small sample to work with Youth Leighton Vander Esch Jersey , and if a guy was targeted twice in the passing game but did not catch any of the passes, he’s bound to have a negative EPA, while a guy who catches a 64-yard touchdown pass is almost certain to have a great EPA. But even with that caveat, it’s still interesting to look at the EPA results so far, and we’ll start with the ground game.Dallas Cowboys running game EPAIncluding turnovers on running plays, the total EPA for the Cowboys’ ground game adds up to 14.49 on 63 runs (excluding three QB kneels, three plays negated by penalty, and one two-point conversion). That’s an EPA of 0.23 per run, which makes the Cowboys ground game marginally positive. Here’s how that breaks down per player:For the ground game, the data here suggests that Dak Prescott should run more; per EPA, he’s averaging almost a point per run. That’s sensational. The Cowboys would be well-advised to add more plays designed for a QB run.What’s true for Prescott is also true for Tavon Austin: the Cowboys will improve their likelihood of scoring if they give him more touches. Dave Halprin brought up both those ideas in an earlier post this week.But what’s up with Ezekiel Elliott? At first glance it doesn’t look like he (and by extension the entire run game) is contributing much in terms of points added. But after three games, Elliott leads the NFL in rushing, as my good friend ScarletO points out below, so how does that mesh?Part of the reason for Elliott’s low EPA value is that in terms of EPA, the average combined value of runs for most of the field is close to zero. Here’s why: a first-down play needs at least four yards to be break-even in terms of EPV, and in the NFL this year 54% of runs (653/1215) on 1st-and-10 gained less than four yards. So if you’re in a situation where half your runs have a negative EPA and the other half has a positive EPA, your total running EPA should be at or around the zero mark. So Elliott isn’t doing that badly with a 0.1 overall EPA/play.But there’s another reason for Elliott’s low EPA, and that has to do with how the Cowboys are using him. Here’s a look at his EPA values by down-and-distance clusters (excluding his fumble against the Seahawks): With an EPA/run of 0.2, Elliott is delivering above average points on the ground in 1st-and-10 and 2nd/3rd-and-short situations.Todd Gurley of the 3-0 Rams for example has an overall EPA/run of 0.1, and EPA/run on 1st-and-10 just above zero.Saquon Barkley of the Giants has an overall EPA/run of 0.1, and a -0.1 EPA/run on 1st-and-10.Adrian Peterson, now in Washington, has an overall EPA/run of just below zero and an EPA/run on 1st-and-10 of just below zero.But what’s not working for Elliott are 2nd/3rd and long situations Youth Taco Charlton Jersey , where he has a -0.1 EPA/run on 12 runs. Of those 12 runs, one was on 2nd-and-6, one was on 2nd-and-9, all others were in 2nd/3rd down situations with 10-or-more yards to go. Why would the Cowboys choose to run and not pass in those situations? Ultimately, the Cowboys should look for ways to get more out of Ezekiel Elliott on the ground; right now he’s a little above league average, at least according to EPA. San Francisco’s Matt Breida, who co-leads the NFL in rushing yards with Elliott, has an EPA/run of 0.4. That’s where Elliott should be. Dallas Cowboys passing game EPASame exercise for the receivers, though we’ll change up things a little by first only looking at their EPA per reception (table excludes players with less than three targets). The data here is pretty straightforward. The Cowboys have three tiers of receivers.Tier 1: Austin, Beasley, and Hurns all add more than one EPA point per reception.Tier 2: Gallup, Thompson, and Williams average about half the value of the Tier 1 guys per reception.Tier 3: Swaim and Elliott do not improve the team’s likelihood of scoring when they catch the ball. This should have all sorts of alarm bells going off at The Star in Frisco.But looking only at receptions results in an inflated EPA. Which is why we need to include the number of targets for each wide receiver, even if an incompletion is not always the fault of the receiver. In the passing game, Tavon Austin looks great thanks in part to his 64-yard TD reception, but he’s not going to repeat that every game. What’s more interesting to look at are the high-volume targets like Cole Beasley (above average), Deonte Thompson (average), Ezekiel Elliott and Geoff Swaim (both below average). Cole Beasley is one of the few bright spots in the passing game. What’s interesting here is that Beasley is not a good 1st-down target, delivering 0.0 EPA/play on his six 1st-down targets. But on his ten targets on 2nd/3rd/4th down, he’s averaging 1.1 EPA/play. Deonte Thompson looks average at first, but his numbers are hurt by a failed 4th-and-10 conversion against the Panthers. Excluding that one play, Thompson’s EPA/play doubles to 0.4. Also, he’s a good alternative to Beasley on 1st downs http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/antwaun-woods-jersey-cheap , averaging 0.5 EPA/play there.Geoff Swaim should not be targeted in the passing game. Every pass thrown his way loses the Cowboys 0.4 points. In fact, the Cowboys should avoid throwing to their TEs altogether. Including Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers, Prescott has targeted his TEs 15 times and averaged -0.7 EPA/play.Ezekiel Elliott is not currently a viable option in the passing game. 18 targets with -0.5 EPA/play is a sure way to end up punting on a lot of drives. Elliott is clearly not an efficient part of the passing game yet. Also, it doesn’t help that he’s Checkdown Charlie on 3rd-and-long.The Cowboys still have a lot to fix on their offense, and making Elliott a more effective part of the offense is one of the key tasks. Perhaps Elliott’s been hampered by his lack of preseason action, and he’ll round into form in the next few games. But if he doesn’t, then the offense is in big trouble. The data here also suggests the Cowboys need a receiving tight end much more than they need an extra safety, and if I were in the Cowboys’ front office, I’d trade for a tight end immediately. Which means they won’t.Other To Dos:If you need a TE to help you block, use a tackle instead. If you need a TE to run a pass route, use a WR instead (Hint: you have enough of those). Make Tavon Austin the star of this offense. The Dak-to-Cole connection is fixed. Use it.Don’t throw to Zeke.Listen to Joey IckesPoint/counterpoint: Can the Cowboys win the NFC East? Despite the dismal performance last week - every other week so far the season, really - the Dallas Cowboys are only one game out of the lead for the NFC East going into Sunday. And a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars would ensure they were not worse than a half game out. From a purely mathematical stance, Dallas has a legitimate shot at the division title.But we are not talking about math, we are talking about football games. Winning those has been a difficult task so far, and it doesn’t get any easier in the next few games. Still, they have not been blown out yet, and if they can just get something clicking on offense, they could be in the thick of things all the way to the end of the season. Tom Ryle and Michael Strawn take sides in their weekly debate on Cowboys things.Tom: Can the Cowboys win the NFCE? Well, of course they can. The division is in something of a state of disarray this season. Just getting to .500 is turning into a difficult task for all four teams in the conference. And they already have one conference win over the New York Giants in the bank. The problem right now is the malaise on offense, and while the challenges there are certainly real, they still have Ezekiel Elliott. Just a little more out of the passing game, plus some continued good play on defense, and they can get some more games in the win column. In a division where everyone is currently on pace to be .500 or worse Cheap Ezekiel Elliott Jersey , you simply can’t count them out.Michael: Yes, everything you say is true. But it’s safe to assume that some team from the East will get their act together and win 10-11 games. The Eagles are the most likely but there’s other candidates as well. It’s just hard for me to envision the Cowboys being that team. The offensive woes are persistent, systemic and well-documented. And recently the defense hasn’t looked any better than the mediocre unit we’ve become accustomed to under the entire Garrett regime. I just don’t see Dallas being the team that puts the pieces together.Tom: There isn’t a lot of faith in the team right now, but is that really justified? They did seem to put things together a bit against the Detroit Lions. And something that has been largely unnoticed is that they are playing better at home than on the road for a change. That should give us some hope against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stepping back a bit, we are seeing a lot of panic over another disappointing performance, but a win will restore at least some of that. A lot of it depends on whether you believe Dak Prescott can play better, and I am one who think he is capable of doing so. As far as another team getting it together, the Dallas fan base is a bit unusual in that we seem to see just about every other team being better at, well, everything than our own. It may be just an optimism that will be shattered soon, but I think this team can gut things out and start getting more right and be in contention with the other teams in the division, who are all also having some up and down swings.Michael: The word that springs to mind is “faith”. The Cowboys definitely could be the team that’s figured it out. The OL could stop forgetting to block the MLB. The WRs could start catching the relatively few balls that hit them in the hands. Dak Prescott could remember his fundamentals and start throwing an accurate ball.Any one of those things happening isn’t far-fetched. But all or nearly all of them happening requires, well, a whole lot of faith that I just don’t have.Tom: That is one way I see things differently, because if one of those things happen, it will help the others. The team needs to improve a lot of things, but just one or two would improve the chances of winning. I think they will find a solution to one of those problems, and that will lead to another a bit afterwards. And in a division where everyone is having issues, that could be enough. This is just one year where you can’t count anyone out until they are eliminated - and that includes the Cowboys.Michael: As always, very valid points. I’m just not sure even that’s enough. The offense needs to improve significantly just to become a top 20 offense . . . and that’s not very good. So even if the team can improve on the offensive side of the ball it doesn’t mean they’re “good”, just that they’re not “terrible”. Add the fact the defense has been revealed as more like past mediocre units than the allegedly “top five” unit some believed it was earlier in the year and I feel the obstacles are simply too great to overcome.There are our takes. You probably have your own.

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