Dallas Cowboys: 3 Reasons to re-sign Amari Cooper before Ezekiel Elliott

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 09: Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 2: Impact of Zeke vs Impact of Amari

Here’s where things get feisty around Cowboys Nation. The numbers tell us the passing game is exponentially more related to winning than the running game. But respected former players and many “traditionally” minded analysts think the passing game is only possible through the running game.

Instead of rehashing all of the gory details and hard data that prove the former, catch up here:

Related Story. How Zeke's massive success is only an indictment on the Cowboys. light

Record without Zeke/Amari

Harken back to the beginning of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season (if you dare). Despite having an elite running back, the Dallas Cowboys had a losing record and a stagnant offense. The Dallas Cowboys’ offense was so bad they were compelled to trade a treasured first round pick to acquire a certain No. 1 receiver who was only under contract for 1.5 seasons longer.

Since acquiring Amari Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys offense picked up, leading the Cowboys to a 9-1 record down the stretch and advancing them to the Divisional Round in the playoffs (they did lose Amari’s first game in Dallas but that can be attributed to his newness in the offense).

Cooper didn’t just help the passing attack, but he also helped Zeke and the running game. For years we’ve been told the running games sets up the pass, but recent stats have proven otherwise. Passing attacks don’t need a successful running game to make play-action work, and they don’t need to establish the run in order to successfully pass.

Team Zeke often points out Dak Prescott’s pedestrian record without Zeke. But the real crutch of Dak isn’t Zeke – it’s left tackle Tyron Smith. Since many of Tyron’s missed games overlap Zeke’s, Team Zeke has drawn some pretty suspect conclusions regarding the Dallas Cowboys offense.

But separating the two absences clears things up considerably. In fact, the last four games Zeke’s missed, Dak is 4-0. And in those games, the Dallas Cowboys averaged 31 points per contest – significantly higher than their average with Zeke and amongst the very best in the NFL (only the Rams and the Chiefs averaged more last season).

How could that possibly be? Well, it’s a small sample size so we can’t draw any definitive conclusions, but we can see the Cowboys offense shifted more to the passing game, sans Zeke, and as such it followed exactly what the advanced stats have been telling us – passing the ball is more fruitful than running the ball.

According to Cowboys Stats and Graphics, on early downs, when the win probability is between 25%-75% (non-blowout situations), the Dallas Cowboys produced a +.16 EPA (with a 49% success rate) passing compared to just +.02 EPA (and only 41% success rate) with the run. That’s historical fact and not really up for debate.