The Dallas Cowboys are falling into one very spooky trend

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Aside from losing, the Dallas Cowboys are displaying behaviors that aren’t just concerning, but pretty darn scary.

Let’s be honest. There’s a truckload of scary stuff coming out of Cowboys Land these days. The Dallas Cowboys have been the embodiment of Murphy’s Law this year and are about one team-wide outbreak away from a winning card in this year’s “Disaster Bingo.”

But one fairly simple and unassuming action stands out as especially curious –motion (or should I say, the lack thereof). The drop in its usage in Dallas is downright spooky when we try to understand what this new coaching staff believes and values.  Using motion before and/or during the snap may sound like a pretty benign item to nitpick, but it’s actually one of the easier and more helpful things a team can do for an offense.

Motion doesn’t just change angles and avoid press coverage, it also exposes coverages, making things easier for quarterbacks and receivers alike. If someone chases the receiver down the line, he’s probably in man coverage. If the defense stands fast or shifts slightly, it’s probably zone.

Not only does it just make sense from a logical sense, but it’s statistically helpful across the league offering a net gain in expected points added per play. There’s a reason most of the top offenses in the NFL use motion so much. It’s an easy way to a leg up on the competition.

Seth Walder from ESPN has been focused on the impact of motion for quite some time. He’s been tracking and reporting the prevalence and impact – and that’s having a big impact league-wide. In his report last season, he showed on passing plays, when a man was in motion at the time of the snap, the offense produced an additional .08 EPA/p. On designed running plays, that number was even higher, at .11 more EPA/p.

If you’re familiar with EPA then you know those are significant increases. If EPA (expected points added) is still new to you, here’s a brief breakdown. 

Related Story. Why EPA matters to for the Dallas Cowboys. light

The Dallas Cowboys were among the top in the league in motion percentage the first few weeks of the season. But as the season went on, they seemingly abandoned the universally helpful act. Now it’s as if they see motion was somehow too complicated with back-ups across the line and under center. In actuality, it makes things easier for a replacement QB and has a huge positive impact on a line’s ability to open holes in the running game.

The Dallas Cowboys are getting away from things we know work and it’s hard to know exactly why. If it’s a trend of things to come this is a scary development. If it’s unintentional or a temporary action based on current personnel, then it’s curious but not-so-scary.

Next. 3 Things to monitor in Ben DiNucci's first start in Dallas. dark

This is something to monitor, not just on Halloween weekend, but throughout the course of the season. If the Cowboys want to bounce back and be the contenders we think they are in 2021, they’re going to need to adopt methods like this that are proven to maximize offensive output.

  • Published on 10/31/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 10/31/2020 at 12:49 PM