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Take a deep dive into the “new” Mike McCarthy, including his thoughts on analytics

The new Cowboys coach has spent the last year re-learning his craft.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

That didn’t take long. The Dallas Cowboys have their man as the new head coach is reportedly Mike McCarthy. The hire seems to be one where Jerry Jones wants results this year from his talented roster as McCarthy is a very experienced head coach and will have little challenge getting things up and running.

In fact, McCarthy has spent the last year with a small group of coaches in something he calls the McCarthy Group, breaking down the NFL and re-learning and re-evaluating everything he’s done in the past.

The interview below is a required watch for any Cowboys fan as he goes into detail about what he’s been doing throughout the 2019 season.

It’s highly recommended that you watch the whole thing for yourself if you want to get an idea about the Cowboys next head coach. But we’ll also pull out some of the highlights, they are paraphrased but will give you and idea of what’s he’s thinking about heading into this season.

Let’s start with a big one, an idea that has gotten a lot of play recently when talking about McCarthy and that’s the use of analytics. Peter King basically asks him about it and says most people would not associate analytics with McCarthy. His response:

  • Analytics was growing the last few years I was in Green Bay, that is something that can go to another level. Analytics is how I got into the league as a quality control coach. It’s all about the application of the data from statistics. The third-party analytics in our business are better than ever.

Context: McCarthy notes that he’s always looked at statistics throughout his career but makes it plain that it’s how you use them that really counts. He generally seems enthusiastic about having all the third-party data and says that with limited practice time and meetings in the offseason, the real trick is incorporating all of that into your schedule of teaching over the offseason. He says he has an advantage on that this year as he’s already mapped it out for the upcoming season.

King asked McCarthy about the idea that the offense had gotten stale in Green Bay at the end of his time. While McCarthy sort of dismissed that as a convenient criticism, he did note a couple of interesting things. He said:

  • We got away from motion and shifts and multiple personnel groups more than we had done in the past.

Context: That sounds dangerously like the criticisms leveled at Scott Linehan before Kellen Moore took over. In his time off, it sounds like McCarthy realized that he needs to freshen his ideas up.

He also said:

  • If you’re going to call the plays you have to be the installer of the offense on Weds., Thurs., and Friday. That’s something I got away from in the second half of my career in Green Bay. Staff development took precedence over game-planning process.

Context: One would guess that McCarthy would call his own plays, and he says that if the players don’t hear it from the play-caller during the week when they install that week’s offense, then they can’t always understand or trust the plays being called in the game by a different person. It sounds like McCarthy would be very hands-on with the offense unless he decides to turn it all over to an offensive coordinator.

King asked about coaches he’s seen this year the he really liked. He mentioned a couple of guys

  • Likes Kyle Shanahan’s aggressiveness. Mentioned he was relentless and never took his foot off the gas. Also liked Mike Pettine’s second-year as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator, likes the pressure packages and the way he created one-on-ones for the main pass rushers.

Context: In reference to Shannahan, he also mentioned how offenses can get too situational and sometimes take their foot off the gas, but he liked that Shanahan never did that.

In discussions about things he’s looked at while not coaching this year, or learned more about, he mentioned the following items:

  • I’m studying league-wide trends tapes, RPOs, red zone passes, etc.
  • Scheme is an evolution, you have to stay on top of it.
  • Versatility, multiplicity are things I looked at, when you have success you can go down a certain path too long. You have to evolve in all three phases, and evolve your preparation and education.

Context: These points should be reassuring for Cowboys fans who dealt with the Scott Linehan issues and that have heard the criticism of a stale offense under McCarthy. He made it sound like he recognized certain things about himself and how he was coaching, and that it needed freshening up.

We’ll have to see how much McCarthy puts all this new-found knowledge to use. If you watch the video, you will see that this wasn’t some haphazard effort where he spent some off-time watching NFL game. This was an organized, concentrated effort that went on through all parts of last year that included a group of other coaches who were serious about doing this.

McCarthy certainly put in the homework, now can he pass the test?

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