Dallas Cowboys: Stats That Matter Two Weeks into the NFL Season
About 75 percent of people know that you can use stats to skew perspectives. The reality is that they rarely tell the whole story, but I also find that they almost always tell part of the story.
Let's attempt to complete the story by tossing out a few of the key stats regarding the Dallas Cowboys two weeks into the season.
9 for 68
That's the total combined number of penalties and penalty yards handed out to the Cowboys' first two opponents in their games against Dallas. Both numbers would rank second lowest in football, ahead of only the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, are the third-most penalized team in the league, having drawn 18 flags to the tune of 133 yards.
The 'Boys can't do much about the number of penalties their opponents are taking, but they sure can work to reduce their own number. Will that happen? It didn't last year, when Dallas was the fifth-most penalized team in football.
But that their opponents are only drawing 4.5 penalties per game is interesting, because it indicates they aren't getting much help. While Week 2 opponent Seattle has already gained seven first downs due to penalties, the Cowboys have only seen the chains move once as a result of a penalty on the opposing team.
The odds state that the Cowboys should eventually get more help in this area, because they've been unlucky thus far.
I hate to keep harping on penalties, but that's how many flags Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith has drawn this season, which is more than any other player in football.
The horse-collar he was called for against the Giants was probably excusable, but four false starts is a little much, and it's a big reason why Smith has graded out 69th out of 71 eligible tackles by Pro Football Focus. The only left tackle who has fared worse, according to PFF, is Arizona's D'Anthony Batiste.
The good news? He's yet to give up a sack and his penalty total shrunk from four to one in Week 2. It might just be taking Smith a little extra time to adjust to the left side, where he hasn't taken regular snaps since high school.
Still, this was supposed to be a breakout season for the 21-year-old. For that, we might have to wait until 2013.
That's how many tackles Sean Lee and Bruce Carter have combined for two games into the season, according to PFF. Tackle stats vary by source, but this still indicates how superb both players have been at spanning the field to make plays.
Lee is the league's tackler leader thus far, while Carter has emerged in his second season. He's been great as a run defender and already has 12 tackles, which is solid considering he entered the year only as a borderline starter and has had to contend with Lee in that category.
There's no competition anymore with veteran Dan Connor. Between the two, Carter has taken 85 percent of the snaps thus far and has only shown his inexperience with one penalty and a pair of missed tackles.
The Cowboys are looking pretty good in the second level.
How many takeaways will Dallas have against Tampa Bay?
That's how many interceptions this revamped pass defense has recorded thus far, making Dallas one of only nine teams without a pick. In fact, had Giants rookie running back David Wilson not fumbled early in the first game of the season, the Cowboys would be one of only three teams yet to force a single turnover.
The coverage has been better this season and I already talked about how strong the linebacking corps has been, but the key now will be for those guys to start generating takeaways.
It'll help if/when the pass rush starts getting more pressure. Thus far, the Cowboys have only five sacks and are ranked slightly above average by PFF in terms of bringing heat.
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