Commander Stats of the Week: Watch the Cowboys defense

The Washington Commanders (4-7) are coming off what may be the worst loss of coach Ron Rivera’s career, and as they try to bounce back, they’ll need some favors. The Commanders have just four days to recover and regroup before visiting the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) on Thanksgiving Day.

“This is definitely the worst moment,” Rivera said after Sunday’s 31-19 loss to the New York Giants. “Any time you have an opportunity to win a football game and you add up the numbers you put up, you have a chance. You have to pass.”

Dallas has one of the best defenses in the NFL and has won four of its last five games.

Let’s dive into the stats to get to know the Cowboys.

For the better part of four years, Washington tried to prevent a big game. He has repeatedly modernized his secondary, tried to refine his scheme to incorporate more match zone principles, and has occasionally had success trying to combine pass rush with coverage.

But this year has been a doozy.

Commanders allowed opponents to complete a league-high 88 explosive plays (defined as at least 16 yards passing or 12 yards rushing). Their 65 explosive passes also led the league, with opponents gaining an average of 26.9 yards on those plays.

Washington gives up yards before and after the catch; Commanders have allowed 4.7 passes per game that travel 20 or more yards through the air (fifth most in the NFL). The Commanders also allowed 5.5 yards after the catch per reception, ninth in the league.

Opponents convert 32.8 percent of third downs

The Cowboys rank near the top of the league in many defensive categories – they are second in yards allowed per game (266.3), passing yards per game (157.1) and sacks per passer (11.7 percent), and first in in terms of interception rate (3.9 percent). They also rank second in opponent third-down conversion rates, allowing only 32.8 percent of attempts to convert into first downs.

Sam Howell’s next task: help commanders overcome this defeat

The Cowboys have been especially dominant on third down over the past two weeks: They forced the Giants to go 0-for-12 in Week 10, then limited the Carolina Panthers to five conversions in 15 attempts on Sunday.

Washington’s offense has many areas for improvement after its performance against the Giants, including third down. On Sunday, the Commanders converted 5 of 13 attempts for a 38.5 percent rate, a sharp decline after converting 53.3 percent in the previous three games combined.

It doesn’t matter now who trains the Commanders. What matters is who will be next.

11 games with 2 or more sacks for Parsons

Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons recorded at least two sacks for his 11th career game, with 2.5 sacks against the Panthers. Only four players have had more games with more than two sacks in their first three seasons: Reggie White (16), Richard Dent (12), Shawne Merriman (12) and Aldon Smith (12).

Since entering the league in 2021, Parsons has recorded double-digit sacks every season. His 10 catches this season are seventh in the NFL, putting him on pace for 17th at season’s end.


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