IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.
Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.
As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.
With 60 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on the team’s mediocrity the past two years and if they’re closing to the top, rock-bottom or should we consider this the norm for years to come.
60) Which Way Are Cowboys Leaning From Mediocrity?
The storied history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise all began in 1960, the inaugural season of the team. While the success of the team over the years outweighed some of the lean early years, we often look beyond the Cowboys’ first-ever season. It’s easy to forget, considering the Cowboys never won a game, losing 11 of 12 with one tie – a 31-31 tie of the Giants late in the season.
That of course, is the definition of a bad team in any sport, any league in any era. And we’ve seen the Cowboys achieve the ultimate thrill, although that’s been quite a few years now as well. The club hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1995.
Lately, it’s been much closer to the middle, especially the last two seasons in which the Cowboys couldn’t be any more average, finishing with identical 8-8 marks and losing the final game to a division team on the road with a chance to win the NFC East title, only to come up short.
So the question begs, are the Cowboys closer to one of the elite teams in the NFL, meaning could they consistently hang with the teams with the top record? Or should this squad be compared to some of the lower-tier teams that were picking high in the draft.
Only time will tell but at least the schedule should allow us to find out. The Cowboys all three types of teams in the first six weeks of the season. The Giants have been similar in record lately, although they did win the Super Bowl two years ago. The first game of the season should tell us how the Cowboys will stack up with an always-formidable division foe. Then they travel to Kansas City, who picked No. 1 in the last NFL Draft and have a new, familiar coach in Andy Reid. Early in October the Cowboys will host Peyton Manning and the Broncos at Cowboys Stadium.
In between, there are games with non-playoff teams such as San Diego and St. Louis. So rather early in the year, we should have an idea if the Cowboys are leaning towards the top of the league, the bottom, or is the pendulum right square in the middle as it has been in recent years.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 60:
- The Cowboys have had 17 players wear the No. 60 jersey. The longest-tenured player to wear this jersey was defensive lineman Don Smerek, who wore it from 1981-87.
- Currently, guard/center
Kevin Kowalskiwears No. 60. Kowalski spent most of last year on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) but was active for a few games late in the year. He made the team as an undrafted rookie from Toledo in 2011 and filled in twice because of injuries.
- Longtime defensive tackle Larry Cole is considered by many as one of the more underrated players in franchise history. He finished his career with 60 sacks, ranking 10th on the Cowboys’ all-time list.
- In 1960, the Cowboys had an expansion draft from the rest of the league, acquiring veteran players to help fill out their squad. The best players from the draft include WR/TE Frank Clarke and LB Jerry Tubbs.
- The second-longest interception return in Cowboys’ postseason history occurred in 1967 when Cornell Green returned a pick 60 yards for a touchdown against the Browns in a 52-14 win over Cleveland, setting up a showdown with Green Bay, also known as the “Ice Bowl.”
- The Cowboys recently conducted their 53rd college draft this past April, and still have yet to ever draft a player with the 60th overall spot.