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Matts4313

Run Game is largely irrelevant

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On 6/7/2019 at 1:06 PM, Matts4313 said:

This is a repost of one I made in the Cowboys forum. Thought some of you may be interested:

Ive gotten this stigma that I hate Zeke because I think he is a jerk. I dont hate Zeke. In fact, as a player, he is probably the second best position excluded (behind Martin) on our whole team. And this past year, he helped make himself much more valuable. Not because his rushing. That doesnt matter. Its because he grew a ton in the pass game. The only thing that matters. Here are some facts that are irrefutable the past 25 years (or 5, 10, 15 - any time frame).

Point 1: The team that has a better ANY/A (adjusted net yards per an attempt => an advanced passing stat) in any given game wins the vast majority of the time. 

  • Depending on year they win between 60 - 90% of the games. The average is mid-high 70's win % based on time frame.
  • Your goal should be to have an efficient passing game (High completion, low sacks and turn overs). 
  • Bulk passing does not matter.
  • Defensively you need to make the other team inefficient in the passing game. 

Point 2: Despite "common knowledge" there is no evidence that running the ball helps passing

  • Running efficiently (YPC) doesnt make you win more or pass better
  • Bulk running (YPG) doesnt make you win more or pass better
  • Attempts doesnt make you win more or pass better.
  • Running the ball does not set up Play Action Passing. 

Point 3: That doesnt mean that running or running backs arent useful.

  • Running short yardage is useful
  • RBs who help in the pass game are useful

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Supporting facts for the above statements:

How can a Cowboys fan believe this when you have had three straight winning seasons with no QB and a great running game?

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Good points @Matts4313 hard to disagree with all your points backed up by stats.

 

I'd like to respond in detail, but it can be summed up with; It is largely irrelevant, but it CAN be relevant. That's basically how I feel about this

Teams in general aren't using the potential a running game has in favor of perfecting their passing attack.

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29 minutes ago, Hunter2_1 said:

Good points @Matts4313 hard to disagree with all your points backed up by stats.

 

I'd like to respond in detail, but it can be summed up with; It is largely irrelevant, but it CAN be relevant. That's basically how I feel about this

Teams in general aren't using the potential a running game has in favor of perfecting their passing attack.

I think this is my take overall - I mean, I guess there's a correlation, but I don't know if a team completely abandoned the run game would correlate to some improvement.

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9 hours ago, patriotsheatyan said:

How can a Cowboys fan believe this when you have had three straight winning seasons with no QB and a great running game?

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18 hours ago, childofpudding said:

As others have said, no one is arguing about whether passing or rushing is more important in today's game. It's obviously passing.

But as an example, comparing efficiency in the passing game to efficiency in the rushing game - and their respective correlation to whether they're a playoff team - does not necessarily equal a like-for-like comparison. It's not always a good idea to compare pass efficiency to run efficiency, or bulk passing to bulk running, and draw conclusions from that.

Think about it situationally.

1) A team that builds a lead will run more, so their opponent will more likely play heavy personnel to stop the run. That makes it more likely for the winning team to have their rushing YPC decrease even though their rushing YPG increases. At the same time, when they do pass it, they'll be doing it against a defense that is designed to stop the run, and that will improve their passing YPA even as it limits their passing YPG (because they're not passing it as much).

2) Meanwhile, a team that builds the lead will try to stop the other team from passing, so they will play more dime and quarter personnel. That makes it more likely for the losing team to have their passing YPA decrease even as their passing YPG increases. At the same time, when they do rush it, they'll be doing it against a defense designed to stop the pass, and that will improve their rushing YPC even as it limits their rushing YPG (because they're not rushing as much).

Because of the above, playoff teams are more likely to have a higher pass efficiency differential than a run efficiency differential, but are less likely to have a higher cumulative passing yards differential than a rushing yards differential. See http://pfref.com/tiny/kJhg5 According to that link, 71% of playoff teams had a positive rushing yards differential, while only 63% had a positive passing yards differential.

Of course this is a chicken-and-egg scenario to some extent, because you don't know how that winning team built its lead. I'd be interested in breaking down the data to look at how playoff teams did specifically in the first half in run and pass efficiency, as well as run and pass bulk yards.

I was about to post something along these lines. I think this is the biggest problem of looking at the stats without context. You don't know the personnel that they are facing. The short version of the above is that:

1. A winning team will run more in obvious running situations near the end of a game

2. A losing team will pass more in obvious passing situations near the end of a game

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13 hours ago, patriotsheatyan said:

How can a Cowboys fan believe this when you have had three straight winning seasons with no QB and a great running game?

This is a cute attempt to talk ish about Dak (who resembles your own QB when he was young, btw), but your point is still wrong. When Dak had an AY/A over 6 last year we won 80% of our games. Under 6 we won 0% of our games. Dak also had a 3-3 record without Zeke. 3 of Daks best games ever came with Zeke getting 0, 80 and 80 yards. 

The evidence once again proves that we win when our passing game is efficient. 

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21 hours ago, childofpudding said:

But as an example, comparing efficiency in the passing game to efficiency in the rushing game - and their respective correlation to whether they're a playoff team - does not necessarily equal a like-for-like comparison. It's not always a good idea to compare pass efficiency to run efficiency, or bulk passing to bulk running, and draw conclusions from that.

Football has been played for 100 years. The stats have been tracked for most of it. Even more so the last 30 years. 32 teams means 16 games a week (obvi we didnt have 32 teams the entire time, and bye weeks). Which means ~250 games a year. x's  30 years = 7,500 data points. There are 7500 examples of why rushing doesnt help you win no matter how you measure it. There are 7500 examples of how the team with the better ANY/A is the team that wins. 

Its the only strongly correlated stat in football. 

If rushing success mattered, somebody would have found the connection by now right? There would be some measurable data?

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The team that just won the Super Bowl is one of the few that still uses a fullback.

They ran for 155, 176, and 154 in their playoff games this year.

 

As an Eagles fan I would love for the Cowboys to pay Dak and move on from 'zeke.

  • The Cowboys are 15-4 when Elliot runs for 100+
  • They are 12-10 when he does not
  • They are 4-4 when he does not play
  • In 2016 Dallas averaged 8.8 yards per play on play action and 7 yards per play on the rest
  • In 2017 Dallas was 6.7 per play action and 6.2 without (I'm sure the 6 non-Elliot games make the difference smaller
  • Defenses play to stop Elliot first
  • Therefore... it's all about Dak? :ph34r:

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46 minutes ago, SkippyX said:

The team that just won the Super Bowl is one of the few that still uses a fullback.

They ran for 155, 176, and 154 in their playoff games this year.

 

As an Eagles fan I would love for the Cowboys to pay Dak and move on from 'zeke.

  • The Cowboys are 15-4 when Elliot runs for 100+
  • They are 12-10 when he does not
  • They are 4-4 when he does not play
  • In 2016 Dallas averaged 8.8 yards per play on play action and 7 yards per play on the rest
  • In 2017 Dallas was 6.7 per play action and 6.2 without (I'm sure the 6 non-Elliot games make the difference smaller
  • Defenses play to stop Elliot first
  • Therefore... it's all about Dak? :ph34r:

Id really rather not make this a Zeke/Dak debate. Its why I showed a lot of data from all the teams in the league over a lot of years. Its a more broad study than bringing it down to anecdotal levels.

 

That said, the win ratio for the Cowboys is also directly tied to Dak. There is no evidence that Zeke has ever carried us to wins in spite of bad play by Dak. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Matts4313 said:

Football has been played for 100 years. The stats have been tracked for most of it. Even more so the last 30 years. 32 teams means 16 games a week (obvi we didnt have 32 teams the entire time, and bye weeks). Which means ~250 games a year. x's  30 years = 7,500 data points. There are 7500 examples of why rushing doesnt help you win no matter how you measure it. There are 7500 examples of how the team with the better ANY/A is the team that wins. 

Its the only strongly correlated stat in football. 

If rushing success mattered, somebody would have found the connection by now right? There would be some measurable data?

Your  bolded statement is incorrect, and I showed that in my initial post. Did you even read it? I wrote that "71% of playoff teams had a positive rushing yards differential." Passing efficiency is highly correlated to winning, as is cumulative rushing yards.

You whined earlier in the thread about how no one was giving you a detailed and nuanced answer. Then when I do that, you show that you don't really care to hear it. My whole point was that looking at correlations without context is foolhardy.

Also, your statement that ANY/A is "the only strongly correlated stat in football" is incorrect. Passer rating is also strongly correlated (not as much as ANY/A but still strong) as is turnover margin.

Edited by childofpudding

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I have some stats for you:

Teams that rush for 150+ yards in a game are 6178-1903 all time, for a win percentage of 76.4%.

Teams that outrush their opponent by 100+ yards are 3399-364 all time, for a win percentage of 90.3%.

It's clear that football games are so complicated and interconnected that boiling them down to one factor is futile.

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On 6/7/2019 at 2:06 PM, Matts4313 said:

This is a repost of one I made in the Cowboys forum. Thought some of you may be interested:

Ive gotten this stigma that I hate Zeke because I think he is a jerk. I dont hate Zeke. In fact, as a player, he is probably the second best position excluded (behind Martin) on our whole team. And this past year, he helped make himself much more valuable. Not because his rushing. That doesnt matter. Its because he grew a ton in the pass game. The only thing that matters. Here are some facts that are irrefutable the past 25 years (or 5, 10, 15 - any time frame).

Point 1: The team that has a better ANY/A (adjusted net yards per an attempt => an advanced passing stat) in any given game wins the vast majority of the time. 

  • Depending on year they win between 60 - 90% of the games. The average is mid-high 70's win % based on time frame.
  • Your goal should be to have an efficient passing game (High completion, low sacks and turn overs). 
  • Bulk passing does not matter.
  • Defensively you need to make the other team inefficient in the passing game. 

Point 2: Despite "common knowledge" there is no evidence that running the ball helps passing

  • Running efficiently (YPC) doesnt make you win more or pass better
  • Bulk running (YPG) doesnt make you win more or pass better
  • Attempts doesnt make you win more or pass better.
  • Running the ball does not set up Play Action Passing. 

Point 3: That doesnt mean that running or running backs arent useful.

  • Running short yardage is useful
  • RBs who help in the pass game are useful

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Supporting facts for the above statements:

argument20invalid20shark.jpg

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On 11/06/2019 at 4:29 PM, Matts4313 said:

Thats not the debate. You can run a lot (or little) as part of your plan to pass efficiently. If you run 40 times it effects the win rate little. IF you run 40 times and pass the ball efficiently, you win the game. 

Correlation is not causation. 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Matts4313 said:

This is a cute attempt to talk ish about Dak (who resembles your own QB when he was young, btw), but your point is still wrong. When Dak had an AY/A over 6 last year we won 80% of our games. Under 6 we won 0% of our games. Dak also had a 3-3 record without Zeke. 3 of Daks best games ever came with Zeke getting 0, 80 and 80 yards. 

The evidence once again proves that we win when our passing game is efficient. 

I think your thread is booty and don’t care to reiterate what most have been saying in a vain attempt to debate - but this post is cherry picking at it’s finest. Using stats like these as the base of opinions is really dumb, but since we’re already at it, here are some more stats from last season:

When Zeke gets 4.0 YPC: 8-3

When Zeke gets less than 4.0 YPC: 2-3

When Zeke gets 20+ carries: 6-1

When he gets less: 4-5 

Zeke 100+ yards: 6-1

When he gets less: 4-5

I’m sure you’ll come back with the “much higher correlation with passing than with Zeke” - and it’s already been talked about ad nauseam how that hardly makes the run game “irrelevant” - but it’s funny how only the stats that conveniently fit your narrative are the ones that brought up. When was the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs without a potent rushing attack? Ouch, man.

Edited by Yin-Yang

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Posted (edited)

MATTS4313 this is an interesting thread.  Thanks for your time in putting it all together.  One thing I'd be interested in hearing is your opinion about what role Emmitt Smith had in the Cowboys' three Super Bowl runs.  As a fan of another team, I always hear about the "triplets", so I've always thought he played a big role in the team's success.  Do you think the Cowboys would have had just as much success with a mediocre RB?   I'm not saying it would have been one way or the other.  I just think it would be interesting to hear what you or other Cowboys fans have to say on the issue.

Another question would be, what if you don't have an elite QB?  There are only a few of those to go around.  In the case of the Vikings, we have a good to elite defense, two very good receivers, a decent TE, a RB who has shown a lot of promise (if he can stay healthy), and a head coach in Mike Zimmer who has gone on record the last few years as saying that he wants to run the ball more.  Can a very good running game help a team like this get over the hump, or are you just destined to be one of the "also-rans" in a league that is dominated by passing in the postseason?  Thanks for your input.

Edited by Uncle Buck

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