A common theme among sports fans is the idea of the storylines that come out of it.
Another common theme within sports that fans like to follow, especially among different teams in different leagues, is finding similarities.
A similarity at this stage of the early football season no one is talking about? The resurgence of offense and the similarities the change brings among two premier football teams: the LSU Tigers and Dallas Cowboys.
When you look at these teams a year ago, they were coming off solid seasons. LSU came off its first 10-win season since 2013, along with un-hinging the then-undefeated UCF Golden Knights to win a New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys, meanwhile, after being 2-3 through five games of the season, won 10 games as well and beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card Game, only to lose in the Divisional Playoffs versus the would-be NFC pennant-winning Los Angeles Rams.
Again, solid seasons. Solid seasons many other teams would gladly take any day of the week. But for teams with as much history and prestige as these two, winning a bowl or playoff game is not enough.
For both, winning championships is the goal. Hoisting trophies. Wearing championship rings. Winning the biggest games on the biggest stage. That is what both are shooting for.
The thing that has prevented them from reaching that goal? Offense. In particular, an explosive air attack.
Let’s look at last season for both teams. Last season, LSU ranked 67thin the entire FBS in passing yards per game with 228.5 yards, while also ranking 95thin passing touchdowns per game, getting slightly over one in the end zone per game through the air. The Cowboys also had issues in the passing department, posting 221.1 yards per game, 23rd in the NFL. The Cowboys also ranked 23rdin the NFL in passing touchdowns, tallying only 22 on the season.
The similarity is simple at this point. Both teams thrived last season off solid defense and an amazing run game, managing to get by their passing woes by pushing both strengths to their limit. A decent strategy to get to where they got, for sure.
But to get to where they want to go in hoisting the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy or the Vince Lombardi? You have to be more three-dimensional. Especially in today’s Air raid-oriented offensive schemes throughout the sport.
Enter the next similarity.
In the offseason, both squads made an acquisition to fix this area of need. In January of 2019, the Tigers hired New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as their passing game coordinator and right-hand man to offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. The Cowboys parted ways with Scott Linehan and made Kellen Moore, the former backup quarterback, the new offensive coordinator after being the quarterbacks coach the season prior.
The results of both hires in regard to passing, through the early part of the season for both teams, has been explosive. For LSU, they rank second in the entire FBS in passing yards per game at 436.3 and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns with 11. LSU, with 1309 passing yards through three games, is the most passing yards for the team through three games to start this season this millennium. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ passing game ranks third in passing yards per game with 333.0 and tied for second in passing touchdowns with seven. The Cowboys’ 666 yards of offense in the air through the first two games is the most since 2011.
For the similarities, both hires have transformed two ground-oriented offenses into the modern game with more emphasis on dynamic routes for long yardage, deeper throws, and perhaps most significantly, setting up the passing game first to set up the run later.
These are different offenses. Scarier offenses. Offenses that can go toe-to-toe with any team they are facing this season whether in the regular season or potential postseason.
The similarities between the two teams are endless and, to a degree, eerily coincidental. As the season progresses, more similarities could arise.
Sports fans should be here for it.