Dallas Cowboys: Stats That Matter 3 Weeks into the NFL Season

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Dallas Cowboys: Stats That Matter 3 Weeks into the NFL Season
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

About 75 percent of people know that you can use stats to skew perspectives. The reality is that statistics 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 three weeks into the season.

 

6

That's how many rushing touchdowns the Dallas Cowboys have scored since the beginning of 2011, with just one coming thus far in 2012, according to stats provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com

This, maybe more than anything, represents the Cowboys' difficulty with offensive play-calling. During the first three games, I've noticed that Dallas runs in obvious situations and then ditches the run in the red zone, which is something it struggled with last year, too.

As a result, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on only 37.5 percent of red-zone possessions this season, ranking ahead of just six other teams. Last year in the same category, they were ranked 20th with a percentage of 49.0.

 

5.1

That's Bruce Carter's Pro Football Focus rating in run defense this season, which ranks third among NFL inside linebackers. Remember when this guy's roster spot was supposedly in jeopardy early in the offseason? Well, he's healthy now and killing it early in his sophomore year.

Carter's vulnerable in coverage, but his run-stop percentage of 12.2 is actually better than that of Sean Lee, and he's second on the team with 18 tackles. 

 

3.5

That's how many yards the Cowboys are averaging on the ground this season, which is a significant drop off from 4.4 last year. DeMarco Murray started strong against the Giants, but his production has dropped off dramatically in back-to-back weeks since.

He didn't have a lot of holes against the Seahawks or the Bucs, both of whom possess quality defensive fronts. Even against the Giants, Murray struggled in the first half, with 28 yards on eight carries. If not for an improbable, missed-tackle-filled 48-yard run in the second half, it would have been a pedestrian performance. 

This is a concern. Murray struggled late last season, even before breaking his ankle. He has a history of inconsistency, and the Cowboys can't offer him a lot of support from the offensive line right now. 

Dallas has dropped back to pass on a ridiculous 69 percent of the plays it's run thus far. The Cowboys have made an effort to run, but the key might be using Murray and Felix Jones at less-obvious points.

 

Is Jason Witten in decline?

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Dropped passes from Jason Witten (seven by my count), which is the most in football. In fact, no one else even has five, according to Pro Football Focus. Entering this season, the tight end had 17 dropped passes in his previous 64 games. He's increased that total by 35 percent in just three games.

In addition to that, Witten's taken more penalties (four) than any other skill-position player in football except for Russell Wilson (five). 

He's also off to a slow start from a production standpoint, with eight receptions, 76 yards and no touchdowns in three games. It's hard to argue that any player has adversely affected his team as much as Witten has the Cowboys.

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