For the first time in nearly a decade, we have a new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys to learn about. The most important things will start to emerge on Sunday night when they play the season-opening game. That will finally unveil how Mike McCarthy coaches. Most seasons, of course, we would have more of an idea about his style and approach to the game, but the complete lack of an offseason program and the cancellation of the entire preseason rather limited our ability to observe his style and demeanor. And the biggest lesson to come out of training camp is that McCarthy don’t need no stinkin’ reporting from practice. It makes it hard to figure out just what we have.
However, he is having the normal press availability now, even if it is still virtual. The curtain is parting a bit. We are beginning to get a measure of the coach - and how he contrasts with his predecessor. His first regular season Q&A brought us some things to ponder.
You don’t have to guess when he’s not going to tell you something
Back when Jason Garrett took questions, he would respond with one or more of the following:
- Cliches like “he’s been a good player for a long time” and the always popular “it’s a process.”
- A well-told but not necessarily relevant story about just about anything but the Cowboys.
- Dull and non-glittering generalities.
In the end, the listeners were left with almost no new knowledge, which was the whole intent.
McCarty is not fond of handing out much information, either, but he is more direct about it. The whole McCarthy Curtain approach to training camp was not at all subtle. And he seems more direct when things veer into territory where he doesn’t want to venture.
The last few questions of Mike McCarthy's Wednesday press conferences were a bit specific in terms of game day operations.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 9, 2020
He answered a few and then shut it down himself, said thank you, and wished good day thoughts.
It is possible that McCarthy’s approach will eventually become as old and irritating as Garrett’s. But right now, it is something a bit different. It may not really be a breath of fresh air. It seems like it, though.
Analytics are a thing
This is a more definitive way the present and former head men diverge. Garrett never gave any real indication that he embraced analytics, and at times acted like they were a bit distasteful. McCarthy came into the job stressing their value and talking about how he was going to incorporate them into his new approach to his profession. And it didn’t take long for him to show he was not just talking the talk.
Most interesting response came when I asked #Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy about tempering expectations. That 3-0 start then messy year in 2019? He said he did an analytics presentation to the team about the year and said the peaks and valleys have to be short and can't be deep.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) September 9, 2020
Cowboys Twitter lit up at that. While some may still question the whole concept, there is a lot of evidence that proper use of analytics can unveil many things about what happened in the past and what needs to be done to make things better. Now, McCarthy is bringing them fully into the process of getting ready for games.
Which is not to say that he is a devotee of “the process” as someone else famously was.
He’s kinda fun
it wasn’t very specific, but apparently his sense of humor stood out enough for our own RJ Ochoa to note.
Mike McCarthy's isms throughout his press conferences are hilarious.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 9, 2020
He's had a hard time hearing questions over teleconference and he just joked playfully with @SlaterNFL about it all.
Another reporter had a more specific one-liner to share.
The LA Rams beat reporters just won the “You’re the most polite group I’ve talked with” award from Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) September 9, 2020
Thank you, thank you.
Hey, is that a not-so-subtle dig at the scrum of the Dallas beat reporters?
Overall, he just seems to be better at talking to the media
Yeah, small sample size and all that. But things are off to a good start. We’ll see how they continue as the honeymoon period winds down, something that happens sooner than later with the Cowboys and
the ravening pack their intense media. He does get some credit for actually imparting some useful information and not giving a sense of an ongoing tap dance to avoid really saying anything. This may be the most important thing of all to come out of the first session.