IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have had a familiar refrain the last two seasons when it has come to injuries.
You have heard Jason Garrett spout off his “next man up” philosophy time and time again. You’ve heard Jerry Jones and others say injuries are not an excuse, while sure making them sound like an excuse for another 8-8 season.
Do you know a team that had more injuries than the Cowboys? The New England Patriots. And they are one win away from playing in another Super Bowl.
The Patriots lost defensive tackle Vince Wilfork for 12 games with a torn Achilles. They lost linebacker Jerod Mayo for 10 games with a torn pectoral muscle. Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed nine games as he recovered from offseason back surgery and had a gruesome knee injury during the year. That does not count the departure of Aaron Hernandez in the offseason after he was charged with murder.
Who would be the Cowboy equivalents for missing 47 games in a season?
The Cowboys had injuries in 2013. They lost defensive end Anthony Spencer for 15 games with a knee injury. Cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Justin Durant missed six games apiece. Right guard Brian Waters missed the final seven games. Miles Austin missed five. Lee missed five. Ware missed three.
The Patriots were able to overcome and adapt. The Cowboys could not overcome or adapt.
As Jones examines the roster and where the Cowboys need the most help he can’t bank on the return of health of Lee or Claiborne. If they make it through 2014 healthy, somebody else of consequence will get hurt.
Garrett has kept the brave face when it has come to injuries. He has said the right thing. He has attempted to do the right thing as well. It just hasn’t worked for him.
This might be Bill Belichick’s best year coaching because he has done so much with less. Somehow Garrett and the Cowboys have to figure out to do more with less.