In the history of the National Football League, only seven coaches, Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Dick Vermeil, Mike Holmgren, John Fox, and Andy Reid, have taken two teams to the Super Bowl. This season, in his first year as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy hopes to be the eighth addition to the list.
McCarthy appeared in, and won, his Super Bowl back in 2011 with the Green Bay Packers. During his thirteen-year tenure in Green Bay, McCarthy posted an extremely impressive 125-77-2 record. He totaled just three losing seasons, and qualified for the playoffs nine times.
It’s safe to say McCarthy is no stranger to winning, but will he be able to bring the same success to Dallas? If you take a look at history, the odds do not appear to be in his favor, at least in year one. In a recent article by The Athletic, Jon Machota broke down just how difficult it may be for McCarthy.
Winning a championship in your first year as a coach is an extremely rare occurrence in any sport. In the NFL, three coaches, George Seifert, Jon Gruden, and Gary Kubiak have won a Super Bowl in their first season as the new head coach.
Now, despite the talent on their roster, the Cowboys are not a team that should be looked at as “Super Bowl or bust” in 2020. If they were able to make the postseason, and reach the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1996, that would be considered a success in many eyes. Buteven qualifying for the postseason in his first year as a new head coach might be a large challenge.
Out of the 12 coaches that have won a Super Bowl and went on to become a head coach elsewhere, only one reached the playoffs in their first season with the new team.
To make matters worse, of the 68 new head coaches in the past 10 years, only 17 have coached their team to a playoff berth in their first season. That comes out to 25%, not a promising number.
To be fair, you have to consider the level of team McCarthy is taking over opposed to what the other coaches inherited. Of the 12 coaches who won a Super Bowl and went on to coach another team, only two, Don McCafferty and Jimmy Johnson, inherited a team with a winning record in the previous season. The overall combined record of the 12 teams in the season before they got their new coach was 65-120.
It’s pretty clear the odds are not in his favor, but McCarthy is taking over the Cowboys is a unique situation. It’s extremely rare a new head coach imports a team with as much talent as the Cowboys have. Due, in large part, to poor coaching over the years, Dallas never was able to reach their goal of a Super Bowl, but still has retained one of the most talented rosters in the entire NFL. McCarthy is clearly not taking over a rebuilding team, like most new head coaches usually are. The Cowboys are built to win now.
If Mike McCarthy wants to bring Dallas their first Super Bowl since 1996, he’ll have to do something only a select few have ever done in all of sports. But with improved coaching and the overall talent on the Cowboys roster, you certainly can’t count him out.