When Blake Jarwin was placed in Injured Reserve in early November, Dallas Cowboys fans’ didn’t worry much about what it could mean for the offense. Back then, the Cowboys were clicking. They seemed unstoppable in a six-game winning streak. Even without Dak Prescott, they had beaten the Vikings on the road.
All while being a Top 3 offense in the league in EPA/play and success rate. Indeed, losing Jarwin wasn’t ideal. But with Schultz taking over the starting role and an elite trio of wide receivers, things were expected to be more than fine for the Cowboys’ offense.
As you probably know by now, they haven’t been fine since the Cowboys got blown out by the Denver Broncos in Week 9. Of course, Jarwin’s absence isn’t the #1 reason for Dallas’ offensive woes. So many things have gone wrong for this offense that currently ranks 13th in the NFL in EPA/play.
But there’s one thing that Blake Jarwin’s injury clearly took away from the Cowboys’ offense. The usage (and efficiency) of 12 personnel.*
*Personnel grouping consisting of one running back and two tight ends.
Let’s take a look at some key stats that highlight the difference for the Dallas Cowboys when using 12 personnel between the first seven games of the season (with Jarwin) and the last nine games of the season (without Jarwin).
- Usage of 12 personnel: 32% of snaps
- Success Rate: 58%
- Yards per carry: 5.7
- Yards per pass attempt: 9.4
- Usage of 12 personnel: 20% of snaps
- Success Rate: 50%
- Yards per carry: 3.8
- Yards per pass attempt: 7.5
Data via Sharp Football Stats.
Without Jarwin, the Cowboys haven’t been nearly as efficient when using two tight ends. There are a lot of variables involved, but mainly I’d assume it has to do with the fact that neither Jeremy Sprinkle nor Sean McKeon is considered a threat in the passing game.
Which only ends up affecting the running game as defenses are focusing on the run when they see two tight ends lined up on offense.
#DallasCowboys targets to tight ends:
Sean McKeon: 6 (8 games)
Jeremy Sprinkle: 2 (16 games)
Blake Jarwin returning is HUGE.
— Mauricio Rodríguez (@MauNFL) January 4, 2022
As the Dallas Cowboys continue to search for an identity they can lean on when things aren’t going their way, Jarwin’s return could provide that in the shape of more 12 personnel. Even more so after losing Michael Gallup for the season with a torn ACL.
For more on Jarwin’s return, check out my latest A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime live show streaming live every Sunday through Thursday at 8 p.m. CT!
Featured image via David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports