With the value of the running back position reducing because of the NFL becoming a passing league or teams opting for running by committee; which NFL record will last longer: Brett Farve's consecutive games played or Emmitt Smith's rushing yards?
Bryan: Maybe the best question I have ever had to answer in a mail bag. I was working for the Packers at the time Favre started that streak, and 20 years later, he was still playing. I was also at the game that Smith set the rushing record against the Seahawks, so I have been very fortunate to have been a part of both. These streaks are all about health and I remember games where I thought that there is no way that Favre or Smith would be able to play the following week after the beating they took, but they were able to answer the bell. If you pinned me down to one answer, I believe that Favre's record is the one that is safe. The active streak currently sits at 151 with Eli Manning. If he played to the age that Favre did, he would still be short by a full season and a few games. Adrian Peterson currently sits 8,240 yards away. If his health holds up, I might not bet against him but still that would be a huge task.
David: If Peterson doesn't break Smith's record, then I'm not sure we'll see either record broken for a long time. It's just unusual to see one running back carry the workload game after game, year after year in the modern NFL. Even most run-heavy teams split the workload between a few guys – like San Francisco, for instance. As for the iron man streak, again, I just don't know how it happens with the speed and violence of the modern game. I think Smith's record is far more likely to fall than Favre's – that type of longevity is just absurd.
With the new "passing game coordinator" calling the plays, is it completely unlikely the Cowboys can have that balance they had in the 90's. Will they lean on Murray like they did Emmitt? Or will it only truly happen to close games?
Bryan: That Cowboys team of the 90's wasn't always perfectly balanced in the way that you might believe. I have had this discussion with Nate Newton plenty of times and his answer was always the same. The plan was to build the lead with Aikman throwing the ball, then turn the game over to Smith and this defense to protect it. It would be nice to believe that Scott Linehan would take a page out of that 90's playbook with the use of DeMarco Murray but until this defense proves it can stop opponents, he might have to keep throwing the ball just to keep the lead and win the game.
David: Forgive me for repeating a tired phrase, but the league has become much more pass-oriented. There are too many factors favoring the passing game not to take advantage of them – especially when the Cowboys have one of the NFL's best quarterbacks on the roster. I think what you're more likely to see with Linehan is a passing game that can double as a running game. What I mean by that is a short passing game that incorporates the running backs and gets them into space without necessarily giving them more carries. Murray set his career high for receptions with 53 last year, and my guess is he's going to set another career high in 2014.