Every offseason, NFL teams their respective fanbases participate in a regular ritual. That ritual involves the hope and optimism brought on by an offseason of player acquisition. Whether through free agency, the draft, or trades, or all combined, teams look to build a new roster that will propel them forward in the following season.
For the 2021 version of the Dallas Cowboys, we can also add in another element. The hopeful return to form of some key injured players, especially at quarterback and the offensive line. All of these new and returning players are expected to jump-start a team that struggled in 2020.
In theory, it all sounds good. But what if it’s not the fault of the Jimmys and Joes, but the X’s and O’s? Bleacher Report recently took a look at the red flag issue for each team heading into the 2021 draft, and the Cowboys’ problem is not centered on the players, but the coaches.
The biggest red flag for the Dallas Cowboys is that head coach Mike McCarthy simply may not be the right man for the job. Yes, he had to overcome several obstacles in his inaugural season as Dallas’ head coach, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of starting quarterback Dak Prescott and injuries along the offensive line, but his squad more often than not appeared overwhelmed.
Dallas jumped on McCarthy because he does have a Super Bowl pedigree. However, it’s worth noting he was fired by the Green Bay Packers after failing to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. In its next two campaigns, Green Bay reached the NFC title game.
In McCarthy’s first season with Dallas, the Cowboys finished 6-10 and ranked 17th in points scored and 28th in points allowed. More importantly, though, McCarthy appeared to lose the locker room by the season’s end.
“They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly,” one player said of McCarthy and his staff, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater.
Winning is the ultimate deodorant, so the players and coaches will probably be back on the same page if the Cowboys bounce back in 2021. Right now, though, there’s a mountain-sized problem in Dallas, and McCarthy is at its summit.
It’s not totally out of line to cite McCarthy as a possible problem. There were certainly questionable decisions made during games in 2020, and he was responsible for bringing in Mike Nolan to overhaul the defense. That mess went sideways quick and the team never seemed to really adjust.
Then there is the fact that the Green Bay Packers became significantly better once they moved on from McCarthy as his final season there were not of high quality. You throw all this stuff into the mix, including the idea that McCarthy should have done more with the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers era, and the doubt is real.
Obviously last season was a somewhat unique because of COVID, and the Cowboys did seem to suffer an unusually high number of big injuries at key positions, starting with quarterback. Some slack must be given.
Still, the honeymoon is over, and McCarthy and staff will need to show a lot more in this second season or Jerry Jones may have to reconsider.