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 72 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on the wide receiver position:
72. Can Cowboys Stadium Become Real Home-Field Advantage?
In terms of having the most attractive home field, the Cowboys arguably take the cake, not just in the NFL but likely with all pro sporting venues.
But as popular as Cowboys Stadium has become on a national level, it hasn’t turned into the home-field advantage the Cowboys were hoping for when it opened in 2009. Now that season, the Cowboys finished 11-5 overall and went 6-2 at home, despite losing the inaugural game against the Giants.
Since that season, the Cowboys are 11-13 at home the past three seasons including a 4-4 record last year.
The Cowboys can never blame weather conditions, with ability to close the roof and side doors. They’ve got the most fans in the building, although not exactly the rowdiest or loudest in the NFL. For some reason, taking care of home turf hasn’t been a consistent occurrence for the Cowboys.
The cozy room-temperature of Cowboys Stadium, typically around 72 degrees, is also near the average daily temperature the Cowboys will feel in training camp at Oxnard, Calif. While it’s a nice vacation spot for some, and close to a large fan base in the California area, the Cowboys haven’t had great success in the years training in California.
Of the seven years the Cowboys have trained in Oxnard, they’ve never fared better than 9-7 and have only made the playoffs once coming from Oxnard.
And last year, the Cowboys seemingly had more injuries than previous seasons combined, plagued by bumps and bruises all year.
So while the weather has been nice and it’s a perfect break from the Texas heat, it hasn’t exactly prepped the team for success on the field.
The same can be said for the Cowboys’ luscious stadium in Arlington.
If the Cowboys are going to turn the corner of mediocrity, becoming a stellar team at home is the first step.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 72:
- Easily the best player to wear No. 72 is one of the better players to wear it in NFL history. Ed “Too Tall” Jones played 15 years in Dallas and was a menacing force for opposing quarterbacks. Jones is tied with Bill Bates for most seasons played with the Cowboys but he owns the club record with 224 games played and 203 starts.
- The 1972 season included a 10-4 regular season record and one of the best playoff comebacks in franchise history. The Cowboys scored two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 30-28. The next week, they lost 26-3 to Washington in the NFC Championship Game.
- The 1972 draft won’t be considered one of the best in franchise history. It might be closer to the bottom. The first-round pick was running back Bill Thomas, but followed it up with a second-round pick of Robert Newhouse, who played 12 seasons. Three other draft choices in the top three rounds included John Babinecz, Mike Keller and Marv Bateman.
- Benny Barnes returned a fumble 72 yards for a touchdown in 1981 against the 49ers.