Our five-part series on what went right and what went wrong for the Cowboys concludes with No. 1:
Throughout the season, Jason Garrett kept talking about the “next man up” philosophy used by the Cowboys and every team in the NFL in dealing with injuries.
The Cowboys took that to a ridiculous extent in 2012 with some of the “next men up” coming off the couch, or in Ernie Sims’ case, a tractor, to play important roles.
It started with safety Barry Church tearing his Achilles against Tampa Bay and then moved on to linebacker Sean Lee suffering a significant toe injury against Carolina. Center Phil Costa was lost in that game, as well, to a dislocated ankle. Punter Chris Jones suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament. Defensive end Kenyon Coleman tore a triceps. Linebacker Bruce Carter broke his elbow. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick broke his wrist
This doesn’t even count guys that were hurt but continued to play, such as DeMarcus Ware, Eric Frampton, Gerald Sensabaugh, Nate Livings, Felix Jones and the six games missed by DeMarco Murray. Jay Ratliff played in only six games because of ankle and groin injuries and needed sports hernia surgery in December.
Injuries are a reality in the NFL. Teams have to overcome them. The Cowboys couldn’t, and it was part of the reason – at the least – why Rob Ryan is no longer this team’s defensive coordinator.
The games lost to injury also showed how flawed the roster has been because of poor drafts in 2007-09 that robbed the team of depth.