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Cowboys news: Andy Dalton gets his revenge and Mike McCarthy’s job is officially safe

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Dallas Cowboys v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Cowboys QB Andy Dalton celebrates ‘special’ win over Bengals in return to Cincinnati - Kevin Patra, NFL.com

Andy Dalton must have felt immense satisfaction after his win on Sunday.

Sunday marked Dalton’s first game in Cincinnati since Week 17, 2019 against the Browns. A Bengals second-round pick in 2011, Dalton earned a 70-61-2 record as a starting QB for Cincy, the second-most wins all-time for the franchise behind Ken Anderson (91). Dalton is also the Bengals’ all-time leader in pass TDs (204).

“This is definitely special for him. Make no bones about it, he wanted to win this game. More importantly, everybody in this locker room wanted to win it for him,” McCarthy said. “If you can have seen the reaction when he came into the locker room after the game, I think it speaks volumes about the men in the locker room and with this win, it means for us for as a team because of where we are in our season but how important it was to get that win for Andy.”

Dalton was tossed to the curb after last season as the Bengals moved on with top pick Joe Burrow, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Dalton landed in Dallas as Dak Prescott’s backup. Following Dak’s broken ankle, Dalton was thrust into the starting role.

The Cowboys’ victory Sunday got them to just four wins on the season, but at least keeps them in the NFC East race with three games left.

“One of the coolest things was the sign that was up there (in the stadium) that said, ‘Thank you Andy and JJ for changing lives,’” Dalton said. “That’s what we tried to do while we were here and use our platform for good and show God’s love to a lot of people. I felt like that was a great reception to come back and feel that today.

Cowboys Not Giving Up On Mike McCarthy, Job Will Be Safe For 2021 Season - Lauren Campbell , NESN

Mike McCarthy gets a show of confidence from ownership.

The Cowboys are 4-9 and can officially be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers next week. They also lost Dak Prescott in October for the season after the quarterback suffered a gruesome ankle injury.

Some may place blame on McCarthy, and it’s fair to assume if his job is in question.

But according to vice president Stephen Jones, McCarthy isn’t going anywhere.

“There will be absolutely no change with coach Mike McCarthy,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday, via ESPN. “… If you look at his track record and pedigree, he’s consistently won year in and year out and we have the utmost confidence that this ship is going to be righted quickly. And Mike’s going to be the leader of this group and he’s certainly a great head coach. I think we’re going to see that going forward, that he’s a great head coach in this league. He’s accomplished a lot, and he’s going to accomplish a lot more before it’s all said and done.”

REPORT: Mike McCarthy’s Job is Safe, but Change Coming on Defense? - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

McCarthy may be safe, but will Mike Nolan survive?

The hiring of Nolan has never pleased many Cowboys followers. He hasn’t been a premiere defensive mind in the NFL since the early 2000s and even then was probably riding Marvin Lewis’ coattails in Baltimore. His other stops as a head coach and DC throughout the years haven’t been raging successes.

But Nolan and McCarthy have history going back to when Nolan was HC of the 49ers and hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator. And unfortunately, Nolan’s hiring in Dallas has always felt more like a return of a favor than what was best for the Cowboys.

The results speaks for themselves. Even with its weaknesses last year Dallas’ defense was still 9th overall in yards allowed and 11th in scoring. There has been significant drop-off under Mike Nolan without much change in personnel.

Between the 4-9 record, getting flexed out of primetime TV slots, and failing to take advantage one of the worst divisions in NFL history, the Dallas Cowboys definitely need some change. And based on the evidence, a new defensive coordinator is certainly warranted.

Mike McCarthy press conference: Chidobe Awuzie should be back, possible Trevon Diggs, Donovan Wilson practice - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys

Some key injured players may return soon.

Zeke’s production declining over the years

Coach simply noted that they grade the tape, and they understand the numbers of what he’s done in the past. He commented that there have been so many changes this year but he appreciates how Zeke does his job.

Trevon Diggs coming back? Who else?

McCarthy said that Saivion Smith will try to go on Weds. and they’ll get more information tomorrow from the trainers. He also said they will hopefully get Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson on the field for Weds. but those are maybes. He’ll have to wait until Weds. to know.

Dalton Schultz 50 catches

Coach really likes the year he is having, that he’s played well in the passing game and run game and protection. He called him a smart and instinctive player, but also very consistent.

Chidobe Awuzie return?

Coach anticipates Awuzie will be back on Weds.

The job Kellen Moore has done

McCarthy observed it’s been a challenge for him with the all the injuries on offense, but he’s very consistent in how he approaches the job. His emotion is very consistent, and that’s important in leadership.

NFL playoff picture: Cowboys’ chances of winning NFC East are minuscule, fate controlled by Washington - Patrik Walker, CBSSports

With Washington controlling the Cowboys’ fate, anything can happen with Alex Smith injured.

Questions about the lack of effort by the defense and coordinator Mike Nolan won’t suddenly be deleted by beating up on the 2-9-1 Bengals, who were also without first-overall pick Joe Burrow and starting running back Joe Mixon, but the Cowboys did enough to feel good on Monday. The problem is, the damage to any potential playoff appearance has already been done and is likely far too deep of a wound to heal in their last three games of the regular season.

Those who would like to see the team tank for a higher draft pick are disappointed this week, but owner Jerry Jones and the team aren’t — trying desperately to figure out how to leap out of the fourth seat in the NFC East to win the muddled division.

In order to do so, they’d need a lot of help. That would include the Washington Football Team losing out to end the season and the Cowboys running the table, two things that are directly contrary to the recent trajectory of both clubs. For while the Cowboys are winners of just two in their last six games, Washington has torn off four consecutive wins that includes a statement victory over the then-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, and head coach Ron Rivera even polished off the scrappy (albeit depleted) San Francisco 49ers with Dwayne Haskins — who was previously demoted to third string — after losing Alex Smith during the game to what’s being described as a calf strain.

Dallas Cowboys defenders spearhead decisive win, hope to quiet questions of effort - Jori Epstein, USA Today

How much effort, Maximum Effort. Sorry can’t resist a Deadpool quote.

Trifecta of fumbles

The improvement was evident from the game’s first defensive possession — and the second and the third. On each, the Bengals fumbled. On each, the Cowboys recovered.

The fumble victims and perpetrators varied. First, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence pried a ball from Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, cornerback Jourdan Lewis recovering it at the Cincinnati 31. The Cowboys offense settled for a 3-0 lead. On the Bengals’ next series, running back Trayveon Williams fumbled as he collided with left tackle Hakeem Adeniji. Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith wasn’t leaving the touchdown to chance this time. Smith scooped up the ball and willed his 6-5, 255-pound frame 78 yards to the end zone.

Cowboys teammates raced behind Smith, eager to celebrate his first career touchdown and then to rib him about his speed or lack thereof.

“I know that I’m, like, really fast,” Smith said with a laugh after the game. “So I knew that as soon as I picked it up it was going to be impossible for me to get caught. But seriously, I was looking at the screen, I saw there was really nobody around, so I was able to take it in for the touchdown.”

Mike McCarthy reminds how Cowboys’ finish in 2020 can affect 2021, too - Todd Archer, ESPN

The importance of winning, by Mike McCarthy.

“At the end of the day we won the football game,” Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said, “and those have been hard to come by this year.”

It was a good Sunday for the Cowboys, considering it was their fourth win in 13 games, but it was not as good as perhaps they needed.

In a normal season, Dallas would be out of the playoffs by now, but with this being 2020, it isn’t a normal season. The New York Giants’ Week 14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals helped the Cowboys, but the Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1) surprised the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Football Team (6-7) held on against the San Francisco 49ers.

Whether the Cowboys pull off an improbable finish to win the NFC East and host a playoff game, coach Mike McCarthy still understands the value of a team winning its games at the end of a season.

In 2006, his first season with the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy was 4-8 after 12 games — one game better than he was with the Cowboys. Green Bay won its final four and finished 8-8. They did not make the playoffs, losing out on a wild-card spot on a tiebreaker, but McCarthy believes the fast close to the season set the tone for 2007.

“I made reference to it in a team meeting earlier this week. I thought that it was one of the foundation blocks for my time in Green Bay, those last four wins, because it was something that we built on, talked about and emphasized throughout the whole offseason,” McCarthy said. “Then in [2007], we were an overtime loss away from being in the Super Bowl. So, I definitely do believe that success at the end of the season catapults you into your offseason program and can very well factor into next year because, let’s be honest, if you start fast in this league you’re at such an advantage as the season moves on. So, to accomplish [finishing 4-0], would say a lot about our football team, especially what we’ve gone through.”

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