It hasn’t been a good start for the Mike McCarthy Era. The Cowboys head coach sits with a record of 1-3 and has a team that is playing really bad football. Can anything be done? Coach answered some questions today so let’s find out what he has to say. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Thoughts on scheme
Asked if the scheme is the issue for the Cowboys, Mike McCarthy noted that when you face bumps in the road you have to look at what you’re doing. He noted that offensively the scheme has been similar to the past. He did say there were things that they are not clean on.
McCarthy added that defensively from a schematic standpoint they are in a whole different family and not where they want to be right now (he did say this is stating the obvious). He noted that everyone wants to win and play better and that the formula for how these games have unfolded is clearly not the view or the outlook of how they want to play.
He added that time of possession and turnover ratio aren’t where they need to be as far as how they want to play games, and they aren’t affecting the opposing QB like they want. He noted that turnover ratio is the biggest negative.
More time with Mike Nolan?
The Cowboys are struggling defensively which means that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is something being looked at. He reflected on his days as a young NFL coach and noted that there are obviously times where more conversations are necessary. He said he has spent a tremendous amount of time with John Fassel and Mike Nolan. He commented that he doesn’t want to recommend too many things but that they are having healthy conversations
Effort and confidence
McCarthy noted that the Cowboys did not play with great confidence on defense at certain times. He said that the team doesn’t have an effort issue and if they did the game would have been over in the third quarter. He noted they knew Cleveland would feature the wide zone run and they would chop them on the backside, but that they didn’t handle it well, so players sometimes resorted to things they know from the past. They made sure today that that couldn’t happen and they need to be past that.
Time for tough love?
Dak Prescott mentioned that he was sorry to have disappointed McCarthy and the head coach was asked if he gives tough love in situations like this. He noted that everyone is still learning each other as things are still relatively new with them getting to know one another. He said his style is direct communication.
Kickoff when down by three points
Many people wondered exactly what the Cowboys were doing with their squib kick when they were down by three points. Mike McCarthy noted that he was critical of himself in that if you are going to kick away then you have to kick away. He confirmed that the goal was to get the ball to the second level similar to what they did on the kick before but it didn’t work out.
DeMarcus Lawrence referred to the Cowboys defense as soft and when asked about this McCarthy said that he didn’t put a lot of thought into comments of emotion. He said he was sure this was part of Tank’s frustration and Lawrence is as committed as anyone.
Confidence in Mike Nolan
McCarthy said that he has a very high level of confidence in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and that the Cowboys are going to stay the course there. He said they had a lot of great conversations, and that he, Nolan and John Fassel were at the facility working late last night. He conceded the point totals given up are not where they want, but that 20% of the opposing offenses drives are starting on the wrong side of the 50-yard line.
Asked if Donovan Wilson would be starting this week McCarthy said he didn’t have any starting lineups yet.
Jaylon Smith penalty
Jaylon Smith had a facemask penalty on 1st and 20 that wound up being rather critical. McCarthy noted that it was a moment of pursuit and that it was a discipline penalty. They break penalties down into pre-snap penalties and discipline penalties which are not acceptable, and combative penalties where they may disagree with the referee’s call. He noted the first two type penalties were about details and fundamentals.
Interception that Amari Cooper took the blame for
Coach said that is what they call a faith throw, that Dak Prescott has to throw that with a lot of anticipation. He said they need to work on that type of timing play. it can be a challenge.