Chat recap: Cowboys can't bank on health

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
11:30
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- We had a nice spirited chat for about an hour on Wednesday in which we touched on many subjects.

Click here to go through all of the questions, but the highlights are:
But there was one subject I wanted to touch on a little more.

Rico (Jersey): Yo Todd, what can the 'Boys do to help with the amount of injured players they seem to have every year?

Todd Archer: Well, hope to have better luck would be one way. To me it was a little disconcerting to hear Stephen Jones say the Cowboys will be better on defense in 2014 than 2013 because they will be healthier. Will they? I thought injuries were the reason they were bad in 2013 and they would be better in 2013 because of it? You can't bank on health. The Cowboys will have 8-10 players hurt this year again and will have to deal with it by getting more players.

Now if I can go a little deeper here. Few things infuriated fans more last year than the high number of injuries. Or the supposed high number of injuries. The Cowboys had 12 players suffer a hamstring strain during last season, which was near the top of the league.

I get asked what the Cowboys can do to prevent injuries, and I just don't think there is an answer. They have a nutritionist that works on their diets. They go through all of the proper protocols in their strength and conditioning program. Their athletic trainers are considered among the best in the NFL. Could things be tweaked or changed some? Sure. But I don't know that there is some sort of revolutionary training technique the Cowboys can use to assure themselves that injuries will not happen.

When Bill Parcells coached, injuries were down, in part I believe, because players feared being hurt under Parcells. They might have had an ache or a pain, but they wouldn't let that stop them from getting on the field. Sometimes that can be a detriment, of course, but it builds a toughness to a team.

As I said in my answer it is disconcerting to hear Stephen Jones say the Cowboys will be better on defense in 2014 because they will be healthier. Injuries cost Rob Ryan his job after the 2012 season. Injuries earned Monte Kiffin a promotion (wink, wink) in 2014.

Hoping players will be healthy is not the smartest way to go about building a roster. Will the Cowboys lose so many defensive linemen in 2013? Probably not, but what if that injury bug hits the offensive line? They lost linebackers Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims and DeVonte Holloman at different points last season. What if they lose Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church this season?

Every time the Cowboys have talked about injuries since the season ended, they prefaced their comments with, "It's not an excuse, but …" And it's not an excuse, but every team has injuries. The good teams persevere and move on. The good teams' next-man-up philosophy works because they have quality depth.

Quality depth is brought about with solid drafting and good free agency work in an offseason over the course of time.

It just seems like the Cowboys approach to injuries is always a glass half-full when it should be a glass half-empty so they are prepared for the inevitable rash of injuries that can make or break a season.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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