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 34 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on durability issues:
33) Can the Cowboys hope for Dorsett's durability with Murray?
From the time he was taken second overall in the 1977 NFL Draft until his last game with Dallas in 1987, Tony Dorsett could be relied on to play games. On his way to a Hall of Fame career, the Pittsburgh Heisman winner played in 10 or more games in 10 of his 11 seasons in Dallas – including 14 games during his Rookie of the Year season in 1977. Of the 157 games he played with the Cowboys, he was on hand to start in 139 of them – the only blips on his radar were a nine-game season in 1982 and a 12-game, six-start campaign during his last year with the team.
Dallas was blessed by another, even more reliable running back just a few years later. Emmitt Smith started in 199 of the 201 games he played for the Cowboys – a statistic that is hard to truly wrap your mind around, considering the wear-and-tear experienced by NFL running backs.
The decade since has been tough sledding, however, as a parade of Cowboys backs have come through the organization without ever truly sticking. Julius Jones appeared in 53 games over the course of four years, and he managed to make starts in 51 of those games for 3,484 yards – but he only lasted the length of one contract.
Felix Jones lasted a year longer, but he only appeared in 64 of a possible 82 games during his tenure. He was the starting tailback for just 23 contests – not what you'd hope for from a first round pick. A similar story can be told about the up-and-down tenure of Marion Barber, who combined for 28 starts and 1,817 yards between 2008 and 2009 but couldn't maintain that type of momentum. [embedded_ad]
It's too early to write the book on DeMarco Murray, but enough copy to fill several books has already been written about his injury status this offseason. He has missed nine of a possible 32 games since his pro career began – 28 percent.
He could use a few full seasons of health to push his pace more toward the likes of Smith or Dorsett. And the Cowboys could use him if the running game is going to improve.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 33:
- The Cowboys boast the highest number of playoff wins in NFL history, with a total record of 33-25. Famously (or infamously at this point), the team is just 1-4 in the playoffs in the last decade.
- In a December 2003 game against Washington, the Cowboys and Redskins combined to complete just 33 percent of their passes – 17 of a total 51 attempts. Yeesh.
- Something the Cowboys would like to get back to: the 1985 team intercepted 33 passes, second most in franchise history behind 1981's 37-pick mark.