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The Mike McCarthy paradigm and what it means for this new-look Dallas Cowboys football team

There’s a new sheriff in Dallas.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a decade, the Dallas Cowboys will not be coached by Jason Garrett. Owner Jerry Jones gave his former coach ample opportunity to take this team to great places, but the Cowboys were never able to advance beyond the divisional round of the playoffs during Garrett’s tenure. Much to the reluctance of the Jones family, a change had to be made.

And that change means that former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is now in the driver’s seat in Dallas. Sure, it’s early and the new coach has yet to step on the field or coached any of his new players, but his influence has already been felt within the organization.


The Cowboys coaching issues goes far beyond just Garrett, but he was ultimately responsible for having a winning team, and his guys just weren’t getting it done. Consequently, there was quite a significant overhaul among the coaching staff. Mike Nolan is the team’s new defensive coordinator. Jim Tomsula will be coaching the defensive line. And Joe Philbin is now in charge of the offensive line. All of these guys have been NFL head coaches and are very experienced in their respective areas. They even have John Fassel as the team’s new special teams coach, his units enjoyed great success with the Los Angeles Rams.

And it’s not just the new guys brought in, but also the ones he’s keeping. Up-and-coming offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is sticking around, as is assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett. Former tight end coach Doug Nussmeier has been moved to quarterback coach. McCarthy has been fastidious with his coaching decisions, and it’s hard not to love the group he’s assembled for this Cowboys team. Well done, Mike.


McCarthy has made no secret that he’s a hands-off coach when it comes to roster-building. He never had that role in Green Bay, and it’s very unlikely that’ll change in Dallas. But that’s okay, because the Cowboys front office has actually been very sharp in this department. Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones has his own way he approaches free agency and that apparently hasn’t changed. The team still patiently sits out the first wave of free agency and waits for better deals to come along. This is evident by the low cost signings of defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, as well as safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The only deviation this year is that two of these signings are players 30 years or older - McCoy (32) and Poe (30). Garrett has always been an advocate of the youth movement as well as unproven guys who could have some upside if given more opportunities. That hasn’t always been bad as the team has gotten players like Terrell McClain, Benson Mayowa, Jeremy Mincey, and George Selvie, but at the same time - it’s kept them out of the mix for any big time playmakers.

This offseason, the Cowboys are taking some additional risks. Bringing in veteran Pro Bowl players may backfire if father time puts them on the sidelines, but at the same time they offer a stronger presence if they can stay on the field. Also, the fact the team is putting a heavier emphasis on better options along the interior defensive line sure looks like a decision made from the new coaching staff. Considering the liabilities this area has been for the team in the past, you have to feel good about that.


Probably the biggest credit McCarthy has received thus far is the one thing he’s had the least amount of impact on as every post-draft interview he had this past weekend was just the head coach praising the scouting department. And he’s right - this was the scouts draft.

But that is not to say that the change in management isn’t important. Sometimes, you can have addition by subtraction. We’re not going to ignore all the good things Garrett has done for this team in the draft process. Thanks to published transcripts and Dakumentaries, we’ve gotten a behind the curtain look at some of the players he’s been a huge advocate for. We should all thank Garrett that both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are on this football team. And we’re not oblivious to the notion that, despite some misses, this team has been outstanding drafting players throughout Garrett’s tenure.

But speaking of outstanding, the haul of players the Cowboys just pulled off this past weekend might be their best work yet. While we don’t have all the insight of what went on inside the Cowboys thought process with this draft, it appears evident that the lack of interference of the coaching staff has opened the doorway for the scouts to do what they do best - target the best players. And boy howdy, that’s exactly what they did. Cowboys Stats & Graphics shows how the Cowboys consistently found great value again and again. The greatness never let up.

That is not to say the coaches didn’t have any input. Most definitely they did. But chances are, there was not as much pounding the table from the coaching staff for certain guys. Will that change once the new coaches become more acclimated and build up the gall to push harder for their guys? Probably, but this most recent draft should serve as evidence that it’s just best to not get in way of Will McClay and his merry men of scouts.

It’s very comforting to see the player acquisition part of the team is still as sharp as it’s ever been, even with the Garrett influence no longer present. Before Garrett’s arrival, the Cowboys were really bad in that area, and that’s even with Stephen Jones and Will McClay already on board. But this group has collectively grown and figured out how to go about finding great players and it certainly hasn’t left with Garrett.

The icing on the cake is that the team now has an opportunity to benefit from better coaching on gameday. With more experience, this team has a great chance to maximize the talent the personnel department is providing them, and that could lead to great things in Dallas.

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