The NFL is designed to be a passing league. The implementation of new rules has allotted quarterbacks of this era more protection than their predecessors could ever have dreamed of. Along with this the league has also cracked down on the violent hits, limiting the tackle radius for defenders and disallowing hits on players that are deemed defenseless. These changes have made it more likely for games to devolve into shootouts on any given night, and while these contests can be highly entertaining, a heavy pass attack is still the least efficient way to win games.
When a quarterback throws the ball 40 times or more their chances of winning plummet. Even quarterbacks that have the reputation of being gun slingers struggle to win games when burdened with this many attempts. For example Drew Brees who is regarded as one of the most efficient passers of his generation has a career record of 46-69 in games where he passed the ball 40 times or more.
Other noticeable quarterback records when passing the ball 40 times:
Kurt Warner 14-24 (36.8%)
Joe Montana 13-15 (46.4%)
Aaron Rodgers 19-29 (40.6%)
Ben Roethlisberger 31-44 (42%)
Brett Favre 30-48 (38.5%)
Russel Wilson 4-13 (23.5%)
The only quarterbacks who have a winning percentage of 60 percent or higher when passing the ball 40 times or more is Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. All time, quarterbacks only have a 31.2 percent win percentage when passing the ball 40 times or more.
At the 30 plus pass attempt range the win percentage slightly improves but a large majority of quarterbacks still fail to reach the 60 percent win plateau.
All time, quarterbacks only have a 54.7 win percentage when passing the ball 30 times or more.
When passing the ball less than thirty times the all time win percentage sky rockets. At the time of this article the all time win percentage for quarterbacks who throw the ball under 30 times is a staggering 124%.
With these numbers in mind it is a proven fact that a high volume passing attack is one of the worst methods of ensuring victory in the NFL. While completely neglecting the pass in today’s game is impossible limiting pass attempts correlates to wins. Since taking over in 2019 Moore has turned the Cowboys offense into one of the most pass heavy teams in the league. In 2019 the team averaged 37.3 attempts per game (10th in the league), in 2020 39.9 per game (2nd in the league), and 38.4 per in 2021 (5th in the league).
This is a massive jump from the previous three years as the Cowboys attempted 30.6 passes per game in 2016 (30th), 30.8 passes per game in 2017 (29th), and 32.9 passes per game in 2018 (23rd). This influx of passes has not had a positive effect on the Cowboys win percentage. From 2016-2018 the Cowboys had an overall record of 32-16, an 11-11 record against winning teams, three consecutive seasons over .500, two trips to the divisional round of the playoffs, and a playoff win. In the three years since Moore’s promotion to Offensive Coordinator, the Cowboys have an overall record of 26-23, a 7-15 record against winning teams, one season over .500, one playoff appearance and no playoff wins.
The decline in wins correlates with the increase in passing attempts and follows the historic trend of the NFL. This coupled with the correlation between rushing yards and a higher win percentage for the Cowboys as covered in https://hennythemoor.org/2022/06/22/run-the-damn-ball-a-deep-dive-into-the-importance-of-the-cowboys-rushing-attack/. proves the Cowboys are put at a disadvantage when pursuing a high volume pass attack.
The NFL is a passing league, but disregarding this trend may be the most obvious answer on how to fix the Cowboys’ woes and get them back in the win column more consistently.