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Cowboys News: The bar is set high for Mike McCarthy’s first year in Dallas

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Coach Mike McCarthy Press Conference Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The bar is set high for Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 - Eric Eager, PFF.com

Mike McCarthy steps into his new head coaching role with some high expectations.

There are a number of coaches who Mike McCarthy can strive to be like in his second stint. After winning 76% of his games with the Baltimore Colts, the winningest coach of all time — Don Shula — won 66% of his games with the Dolphins in 26 years, bringing as many Super Bowls to South Beach (two) as he did losing seasons. Don Coryell — one of the league’s most innovative offensive minds — left the St. Louis Cardinals having won 61% of his games before winning 55% of his games as the coach of the San Diego Chargers in the late-70s and 80s.

Marty Schottenheimer, after having his heart ripped out and stomped on in the playoffs as the Browns’ coach in the 80s, won 63% of his games with Kansas City from 1989-98. Tony Dungy, after wearing out his welcome with Tampa Bay — a team he lifted off of the ground in the mid-90s — was able to win 76% of his games as the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, netting the franchise a Super Bowl title in 2006. And after falling out of favor in Carolina, John Fox won over 70% of his games as the Denver Broncos’ coach (though, like Dungy, it was with help from Peyton Manning), including one Super Bowl appearance.

While Dan Reeves (0.484 with the Giants and 0.454 with the Falcons), Bill Parcels (0.500 with the Patriots and 0.604 with the Jets), Tom Coughlin (0.531 with the Giants), Dick Vermeil (0.458 with the Rams) and Jon Gruden (0.509 with the Bucs) did not have impressive aggregate records in their second (or third) stints as head coaches, all of these men at least led a team to a Super Bowl, which I would classify as a success. Jim Mora, who was the first successful coach of the Saints franchise, finished 0.500 with the Colts during his second stint as a head coach but did win 23 of his 32 games in 1999 and 2000.

Film room: 3 'pet cats’ on the Cowboys’ roster, including the perfect complement to Cooper-Gallup-Lamb at WR - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

Could these three ‘pet cat’ players deserve more attention?

Undrafted corner Chris Westry is a 6-4 wonder who ran a legit 4.31 40-yard dash at his Kentucky pro day in 2019, but Johnson’s quickness enabled him to create separation that his deep speed maintained (above clip). There was nothing Westry and his 4.3 could do about it.

Despite going undrafted, Johnson was actually a relatively refined route runner for a rookie, which helped him stand out in a crowded receiver competition early in camp. Johnson’s deep speed is a very real threat, and he used defenders’ fear of that to consistently create separation on short-to-intermediate routes.

Outside of the top three receivers (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb), it appears as though it’s going to be an open competition for the last two or three spots (depends on whether Dallas keeps five or six receivers) on the roster.

RB: Undrafted Rookies Add Position Depth - Kyle Youmans. The Mothership

The role of the running game is one of renewed debate as the Cowboys bring in a new coaching staff.

The running game might look different and might take a step back statistically in 2020. This offseason Dallas has added Ceedee Lamb and extended Blake Jarwin in hopes of ramping up their ability to throw the football more efficiently with Dak Prescott. It also might put the ‘run to set up the throw’ mentality to bed after it was the norm this past decade. Head coach Mike McCarthy instead comes from a background of letting the passing game dictate the pace while using the backfield to keep defenses off balance and guessing. Not necessarily as the focal point.

However, just because the passing game is in the limelight, it doesn’t necessarily mean the run game is no longer a crucial component of winning games. Last season the Cowboys were just 2-5 with a PFF rushing grade of 70 or lower, while they were 6-3 in games above that mark. The only losses of the sort were against Green Bay and New Orleans in back-to-back weeks, then New England in Week 12. For those keeping score, there were only seven games last year with a passing grade higher than 70, with a pedestrian 4-3 record.

There will be plenty of time over the upcoming months to debate who should get the majority of touches and what big contracts should be handed out. But there is no debate on whether the ground game, led by Ezekiel Elliott, will play a crucial role. It just may look a little different than in years past.

Dallas Cowboys: 3 great training camp battles to come - Matt Aaron, FanSided’s The Landry Hat

What do you think will be the best training camp battles this season?

How do you think cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis feel? Both were drafted three years ago. Awuzie started for three years. Lewis has started periodically, and has made four interceptions in his time on the squad. Plus, the wily defensive back even had four sacks last year. And yet, Dallas drafted two cornerbacks anyway, a huge vote of no confidence in the pair. Rookies Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II look to muscle the veterans out of the way.

In addition, the Cowboys also have: slot corner Anthony Brown, free agents Maurice Canady and Daryl Worley, special teams ace C.J. Goodwin, and the no-name bunch (Chris Westry, D.J. White, and Deante Burton, whoever they are).

That’s 11 guys. Last year, Dallas kept six. I don’t know about you, but I’m picturing a garroting in the locker room. Seriously, it’s going to be a blood bath.

Punt Return Ability Gives Cedrick Wilson an Edge in Cowboys WR Competion - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

Versatility will be key to Cedrick Wilson earning a spot on the roster.

The Cowboys let Tavon Austin hit the open market in free agency and he remains unsigned. While the team might consider bringing him back in a specialist role, they’d much rather find a player who can consistently help on offense while also handling return duties.

Cedrick Wilson, a 6th-Round pick in 2018, may have that dual potential. He hasn’t gotten many opportunities the last two years, thanks mostly to a shoulder injury which cost him his rookie season.

But in Week 6 of last season against the Jets, Wilson had to step into a larger role with Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb out. He caught five of six passes thrown his away for 46 yards. He was only targeted two other times the rest of the year.

BTB Podcast

We all expect the Cowboys’ passing game to be great in 2020, but what about the run? We discuss on the latest episode of Talkin’ The Star.

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