Dallas Cowboys: Pros and Cons of a Ball Control Offense [an analysis]

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys: Limiting possessions doesn’t help you in the NFL

What many Dallas Cowboys ball-control-stans fail to acknowledge is that football is a sport of alternating possessions. A sport like hockey has a reason to want to control TOP. The more time they have the puck the more opportunity to score. Football takes turns with the ball. Whether a drive ends in a touchdown, field goal, punt, or failed conversion, it always leads to the same result: the other team gets the ball (unless time expires).

It’s no coincidence the Cowboys have 48 offensive possessions (most in the NFL) and 48 defensive possessions this season. The game of football has alternating possessions. Ball control offense still results in a 1:1 possession split with it’s opponent.

There’s no inherent advantage to winning time of possession or limiting overall possessions for the Cowboys, and doing so would hurt the team considerably more than help them.

So if the Dallas Cowboys want to slow things down to limit the other teams’ number of possessions, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot in more ways than one:

  • They’d be inevitably limiting their own possessions
  • And they’d be opting for a less successful run-heavy attack which would place a bigger burden on their defense.

If they really want to help their defense, the Cowboys will cut back on their offensive turnovers. Turnovers are as much of an issue on offense as they are on defense. Currently the Dallas Cowboys are dead last in the league in turnover differential with -7. It’s no mystery they’re struggling this season.

Contrary to popular belief, passing the ball is not more dangerous than running the ball. Interceptions make up a small portion of throws (Dak Prescott has interceptions on 1.5% of his throws) and the benefits of the passing game far outweigh the negative consequences. Keep in mind, EPA numbers include turnovers so those enormous EPA passing numbers the Dallas Cowboys are posting have all those nasty interceptions rolled into them.