Whenever an NFL team hires a new coach, the pros and cons of that hire are debated by a rabid fanbase. It was no different when the Cowboys reached out and made Mike McCarthy their new man in charge. There’s the usual look back into their coaching career for the success and the failures, but with McCarthy, there’s an unusual angle.
When he was fired toward the end of the 2018 season, instead of jumping back on the coaching carousel where there was reportedly interest from several teams for him to become a head coach, he took a year off. This year of learning and renewal for McCarthy has been well-chronicled, but in short, he spent a lot of time watching the 2019 season to see what he needed to improve on from his previous coaching stint.
That included his old team, the Green Bay Packers. Part of the “con” side of hiring McCarthy is the idea that the Packers, in the very next year after firing McCarthy, are in the conference championship game after missing the playoffs in McCarthy’s final couple of seasons. Of course, the roster is a little different after the Packers broke with tradition and signed some notable free agents that really bolstered their defense. Still, the comparisons are there and McCarthy knows it.
Instead of looking away and not acknowledging it, he studied it, just like all the teams in the 2019 season.
“Well, you can’t live in Green Bay and not follow them. It’s probably the same here [in Dallas], I would think,” McCarthy said. “It’s part of the fabric of the community. The people have been awesome. That’s our home — that was our hometown. They’ve been great to my family and I, but it’s great to see them back where they should be. You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit. I think the roster and the coaching has given them a chance to get to the Super Bowl.”
That last line from above is interesting. On one hand, he notes that the roster has given them a chance for a Super Bowl, probably a slight inference to some of the new guys brought in as well as complimenting the guys who were there under him. The second part of that is an act of humility by saying the coaching is also giving them a chance.
We’re all trying to figure out just how sincere McCarthy is with all of this learning, evolving and changing that he’s been talking about. So far, it seems to be true as he’s given up the play-calling to Kellen Moore, something he had previously said he would never give up again. In the statement above, he’s basically saying the new coaching regime is partly responsible for the Packers success, and in a way saying his final efforts were short of what was needed.
More from McCarthy on watching Green Bay:
“Let’s be honest, you go through the emotions of it, but I think the reality of living there, it was something that you had to work through in the beginning,” McCarthy said. “To be transparent and reflecting on improving myself, it wouldn’t have been very smart of me to not watch them, because that program that’s there, that’s something that was built over a 13-year period. Now what they’ve done with it, obviously, they’ve moved it forward and are having success, so I think it’s important to watch.
”That’s your last experience, so however they’re doing this or doing that, I think it’s a good way to spend your offseason. It was definitely part of my research to improve.”
Cowboys fans are all hoping for a perfect scenario. That centers around a Super Bowl-winning coach whose scheme and philosophy went stale, but was able to rescue himself from that by re-inventing his coaching style.
So far, McCarthy is saying all the right things. Next, challenge - prove it.