1966-85 Dalllas Cowboys sacks allowed

1966-85 Dalllas Cowboys sacks allowed

Postby RRMarshall » Sun Sep 25, 2022 10:54 pm

This is an offbeat topic but growing up I followed Tom Landry's Cowboys during the days where they were The Team That Couldn't Win the Big One. The America's Team moniker was still a decade away. One of my memories from that time was even though they sported a prolific scoring offense it seemed Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and then Roger Staubach were getting sacked quite a bit for a team that was professed to have a good o-line. So I did a little research and it seems my memories from my childhood were not imagined. The results are below (I apologize for not being able to display the columns with the appropriate spacing).
During the first 10 years of the Cowboy's run as a perennial playoff team they finished in the Top 6 of sacks allowed 7 times, and they finished above the league average in sacks allowed in 9 of those 10 years. But over the next decade a dramatic turnabout occurs. Dallas made the Top 10 in sacks allowed only once and finished below the league average 6 times. Almost a complete reversal. The question becomes what changed? Those earlier Cowboy teams sported many quality linemen like John Niland, Ralph Neely, Rayfield Wright, and Blaine Nye. And yet I recall Don Meredith and Craig Morton getting dumped repeatedly in the playoff losses to the Browns in 1968 and 1969. In the 2nd decade you had solid o-linemen like Pat Donovan and Herbert Scott joining Wright to provide a quality offensive line, but there was no one that stood out as a year-in and year-out Pro Bowler.
So what can one conclude from these findings? Did Landry change up his blocking schemes or game plans to cut down on the # of sacks? Did Roger the Dodger get a little more conservative post-1975? Did those early Cowboy teams of the late 60's rely too heavily on the deep pass and suffered a higher percentage of sacks because Meredith and Morton were holding the ball longer than average? Or were those Dallas offensive lines simply over-rated? I am very curious if anyone that remembers that era has a similar opinion, and also what members of the board think might be the explanation.

Dallas Cowboys Sacks Allowed

Year Sacks Rank League Avg
1966 42 #5 39.4
1967 42 #5 34.3
1968 34 #6 34.0
1969 44 #4 35.1
1970 39 #6 33.5
1971 32 #9 29.5
1972 31 #11 29.3
1973 43 #4 (tie) 33.1
1974 47 #4 32.1
1975 39 #6 (tie) 34.9

1976 30 #16(tie) 36.6
1977 33 #12 34.1
1978 33 #17 36.5
1979 41 #12 37.8
1980 31 #18 36.8
1981 31 #17 36.5
1982 25 #10 24.0
1983 37 #19 (tie) 43.3
1984 48 #14 (tie) 46.9
1985 44 #14 46.6
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Re: 1966-85 Dalllas Cowboys sacks allowed

Postby Brian wolf » Mon Sep 26, 2022 2:29 am

High risk, high reward offense trying to get the ball in the open to Bob Hayes.
Meredith and Morton werent mobile anyway, while Roger ran around with reckless abandon.
Gent and Rentzel were good route runners but slow and with Hayes being mostly a deep threat, the QBs had to eat the ball alot trying to hit the open man. I felt their small fullback, Don Perkins, could pass block better than some of their linemen.

As Staubach became a more experienced, settled thrower, not to mention the team landing Newhouse, Laidlaw, Springs and other blockers at RB, the team gave up fewer sacks with White taking the attacking approach as well ...
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Re: 1966-85 Dalllas Cowboys sacks allowed

Postby Bryan » Mon Sep 26, 2022 11:52 am

3 things...

1) If you go back one year further to 1965, you'll find a game between Dallas & Green Bay in which both teams had negative net passing yards. Dallas was sacked 9 times and ended up with -1 passing yards; GB was sacked 5 times and had -10 passing yards. Green Bay won 13-3 with 63 yards of offense. Weird.

2) I think the Cowboys 0-line just wasn't that great, especially in the 60's. They were still cycling through guys like Jim Boeke and John Wilbur. One guy who always looked terrible to me on film was Ralph Neely. DEs would just blow past him to the QB with minimal resistance. He had a big reputation coming out of Oklahoma and wound up being on the Cowboys right when they were turning the corner, but I don't think he as an All-Pro/Pro Bowl caliber OT.

3) One possible factor in the sack numbers starting to go down in the mid-70's is the addition of Preston Pearson in 1975. He served as the safety net and was probably the first "3rd down RB" in history. After he retired, that spot was picked up by Ron Springs and then Timmy Newsome. I think having the go-to RB target probably cut down on the sacks.
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Re: 1966-85 Dalllas Cowboys sacks allowed

Postby sheajets » Mon Sep 26, 2022 1:30 pm

I've been watching a lot of Cowboy games on youtube the past several weeks from a narrower strip of the same era...75-85...have to say I love watching that offense operate. Disciplined, efficient, smart, savvy. They could beat you with finesse, power, speed, trickery...a great situational team too.

They made some defenses look so befuddled at times. Well ahead of what some other offenses were doing.
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