The NFL's 17-game schedule for the regular season is likely here to stay for good. That doesn't necessarily mean the league's players and coaches wouldn't prefer going back to 16 games each year. Take Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, for instance. McCarthy recently suggested that the additional game makes things a little more difficult for the Cowboys.
In responding to a question about the continuity of the Cowboys' offensive line, Mike McCarthy talked about the 17-game schedule and the difficulties in keeping players healthy.
“I think the 17th game impact is real. I have felt it with our team,” McCarthy said, via ProFotballTalk.
“History will tell you continuity factors into your wins and losses. You look at the history of five offensive linemen lining up and starting every game of a season on the win total, I don’t recall the exact number, but it’s a significant number,” McCarthy added.
For years, the Cowboys were considered to have the NFL's best offensive line. Right guard Zack Martin, center Travis Frederick and left tackle Tyron Smith anchored Dallas' offensive line, rarely missing games. In recent seasons, McCarthy has been forced to make changes throughout the season because of injuries.
When the 17-game schedule was introduced for the 2021 season, only two Cowboys' offensive linemen started more than 14 games. Dallas had better health luck in the 2022 campaign, during which Martin and offensive lineman Tyler Smith started all 17 games. Guard Connor McGovern and center Tyler Biadasz only missed three games combined.
The 17-game schedule hasn't hurt the Cowboys' overall record. McCarthy has led Dallas to back-to-back 12-5 seasons. The San Francisco 49ers eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs in both years.