Why Defensive Coordinators stopped blitzing us last year

It may or may not surprise many Cowboys fans to learn that Dak Prescott is actually one of the most effective QBs against the blitz.

Per Sports Info Solutions, in the 2021 regular season, against the blitz, Dak was 103 of 165 passes for 1,171 yards, 23 touchdowns, with four picks, and a passer rating of 113.2 against the blitz. To put that touchdown total in perspective, Aaron Rodgers was second last year with scoring passes against the blitz — with 15. (Here’s a link to an article written before the WC game last Jan) https://sports.yahoo.com/tried-warn-49ers-don-t-231431436.html

In fact, in 2021, (other than Tampa Bay) the teams that blitzed us the most ended up losing to us. Blitzing the Cowboys offense was not usually an effective defensive strategy because our offense usually made them pay.

However, as we saw in the Denver game and many games thereafter, DCs began to realize that rushing 3-4 players and dropping everyone else into coverage was the way to slow the Cowboys offense.

In the six games we lost last year including the playoff game to SF, defensive teams blitzed less and dared us to run or throw short dink and dunk passes to move the ball. For the most part it was an effective strategy. Let’s look at the games we lost and what % our opponents blitzed: (credit to Bob Sturm for the stats)

  • Tampa BayL 31-29– they actually blitzed 50% of the offensive plays we ran and we lost. But we racked up a ton of yards and arguably should have won the game if the damn kicker didn’t miss XP and a chip shot FG.
  • Denver- L- 30-15- they only blitzed 14% of our snaps. Denver was one of the first teams to recognize that blitzing us was a mistake. They usually rushed 4 and dropped 7 into coverage. Our second worst offensive game of the year.
  • Kansas City- L- 19-9- they only blitzed 25% of our snaps. Using mostly the same approach as Denver, they frustrated us all day using mostly a 4 man rush.
  • Las Vegas- L- 36-33- Amazingly, the raiders only blitzed us 4% of the time. We racked up yards but had loads of mistakes and our defense stunk it up. But again, the low blitz numbers resulted in a L.
  • Arizona- L- 25-22– the cards did blitz 35% of the time and was able to frustrate our offense completely until the 4th qtr.
  • SF WC game- L- 23-16– the niners only blitzed 18% of the time. Their front 4 were able to put pressure on Dak and also stop the run.

The teams that blitzed us a lot- Carolina, Minnesota, WFT and the Eagles- all got beat consistently. We beat them all. Bottom line- we have made blitzes pay. Now the offense must find a way to make the cover 2 no blitz D pay.

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