IRVING, Texas – Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full years removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 campaign.
As we count down the days until training camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.
With seven days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the team tendency for slow starts:
*7) Can the Cowboys avoid falling into second half holes? *
This isn't the type of stat you want to see from a team with playoff aspirations. En route to their 8-8 record, the 2012 Cowboys took a lead to halftime on just three occasions. A team with postseason goals had a halftime lead against just three teams – the Giants, the Buccaneers and the Eagles, none of whom made the playoffs.
Factor out three halftime ties against Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, and you're left with a whopping 10 games where Dallas went into the intermission trailing the opposition.
Sometimes that deficit was as big as 13 or 25 points, such as the home games against the Giants and Redskins, or as little as three points, which it was in the eventual win against Cincinnati.
Conversely, the '07 Cowboys were quite adept at starting fast. On the way to a 13-3 record, Dallas held the lead at halftime eight different times in 2007. Even better than that: they were a perfect 8-0 with a lead at intermission.
We know how much an elite quarterback can do to keep a team in a game. Only through the potency of the Cowboys' offense were they even able to make a playoff push last year. Of the Cowboys' 10 halftime deficits, they managed to come back and post a 4-6 record in those games. And one or two of those losses, such as New Orleans and the home game against the Giants, were razor thin defeats. [embedded_ad]
Still, you'd prefer to put yourself in that position as seldom as possible. The '07 Cowboys faced seven halftime deficits, and they managed a 4-3 mark in those games.
Just like the odds favor a team who starts with a fast record, it can only help a team to start fast within individual games. The 2007 team was good at it; this year's iteration could stand some improvement.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 7:
- Seven total players have worn the Cowboys No. 7 jersey, and six of them have been quarterbacks. The Cowboys did not assign the No. 7 to a player until 1991, when Steve Beuerlein wore it. Dalton Williams, another quarterback, will wear it in training camp.
- Jay Ratliff, one of the five longest-tenured Cowboys on the roster, was drafted in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Ratliff was taken 224th overall from Auburn.
- The Cowboys signed seven new players in free agency ahead of the 2012 season – the second-highest total in team history, behind 1990's 16 signings. Four of the seven signees – Mackenzy Bernadeau, Brandon Carr, Nate Livings and Kyle Orton – are still with the team.
- Tony Dorsett led the Cowboys in touchdowns for seven total years: 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.
- On Nov. 18, 1996, Chris Boniol set a franchise record for field goals in one game with seven against the Packers. The Cowboys won 21-6 with all of their points coming from Boniol.
- Danny White led the Cowboys in passing for seven seasons – from 1980-85 and again in 1987.
- Roger Staubach led the team in passing for seven consecutive seasons, from 1973-79. His mark is second-best in team history behind Troy Aikman's 12 seasons.
- Michael Irvin posted seven-straight 100-yard games in 1995.
- Frank Clarke, Bob Hayes and Terrell Owens all had the distinction of scoring a touchdown in seven-consecutive games. A three-way tie for the franchise record.