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 39 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the standard for cornerbacks in the Tampa 2 system:
39) What Constitutes A Great Season For Brandon Carr?
Ronde Barber is always the name that gets thrown out when someone mentions the cornerback position in a 4-3, Tampa-2 style defense – and for good reason. Barber is probably going into the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.
Another guy who deserves a similar amount of credit, but isn't as widely lauded, is Chicago's Charles Tillman. It's an easy argument to make, given the age difference, that Tillman has held the top spot for cornerbacks in this system for a while now.
It might not be fair to compare No. 39 Brandon Carr, the Cowboys' most veteran corner in a new scheme, to a player who has been playing in it throughout his career. But it's an interesting thought. You can see the trademarks of the Bears' system in Tillman's stats: he finished second on the team in tackles in 2012 with 86. He only nabbed three interceptions, but he was down around the action often enough to force an impressive 10 fumbles.
Tillman has clocked more than 80 tackles in four of the last five seasons, and he has been a top three tackler for the Bears every time he has done so.
High tackle totals aren't usually considered a good thing for corners, because it typically means they're giving up a lot of receptions. But that's just the difference in schemes. Carr has averaged 58 tackles during a five year career; his counterpart Morris Claiborne finished with 55 in his rookie campaign. Both guys are more accustomed to a more lockdown role.
That said, both starters have said they enjoy the increased physicality brought on by the scheme change. It'll be interesting to see how quickly and how well Carr can adapt to a different role. [embedded_ad]
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 39:
- 39 is the Cowboys' record for most field goals attempted in a season, set by Ken Willis in 1991.
- 39 has been a pretty unheralded number before the arrival of Carr last fall. The last guy to wear it was fullback Lousaka Polite, who wore it from 2004-06.
- Tony Romo was tied with Joe Montana with 39 career 300-yard games entering last year's Week 16 game against New Orleans. His 416 yards and 4 touchdowns pushed him up to 40 career 300-yard games, good enough for ninth all-time.
- Baylor cornerback Ron Francis was selected 39th overall by Dallas in 1987. He played four years for the Cowboys and started 17 games.