We are entering the second year of Mike McCarthy’s tenure as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and are hoping for results in 2021 that far exceed what happened during his first year roaming the team’s sidelines. McCarthy is a Super Bowl-winning head coach, currently wears the top headset for the Dallas Cowboys, and spent his year in between jobs (coming from the Green Bay Packers no less) preparing for his return to the National Football League, an endeavor that was chronicled by multiple national outlets in his lead-up to head coaching interviews last offseason. Needless to say, he is under a lot of lights.
One thing that is often talked about is how McCarthy spent part of his year away from the game learning about trends that have found their way into today’s NFL. Part of his studies included linking up with Pro Football Focus in an effort to learn from them.
PFF has a figurehead in Cris Collinsworth who is still involved in the NFL himself as the color analyst on NBC’s Sunday Night Football (aside from his PFF studies and obligations). In case you were unaware, Collinsworth also has a podcast under the PFF banner and recently had Mike McCarthy on as a guest.
Mike McCarthy detailed the type of changes the Cowboys were striving for defensively this offseason
Hearing the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys speak in any capacity that isn’t the standard podium press conference is an interesting thing. Podcast conversations are far more relaxed than press conferences, although they are still recorded so we are never going to get anything earth-shattering.
Still, though, McCarthy talked to Collinsworth (you can listen to the whole thing right here) and covered a couple of interesting topics. Here are the ones of note.
On how seeing Dak Prescott looking normal in a football uniform had to be a great day for the Cowboys organization:
“Oh without a doubt. And as you said he’s been here working out the whole time so you’ve been able to watch him go through the rehab process and through the footwork and quarterback drills throughout that. But to see him throw behind the offensive line, I know he was excited about it. And you need these practices. It’s been a couple of years for me personally being out there since 2018. It was great to be able to coach your team again. Just do all of the little things that you need. Just the amount of work just in the cadence. To see him under center, just do, we’re obviously focusing mostly on the passing game. It’s great to have Dak out there. He puts so much into it. His energy and his work ethic is off the charts. We’ve had two really good days and we need to hit these next six and feel good about where we are. But yea no doubt. It’s great to see the progress that he’s made because, I don’t know if he’s taken a week off. He’s been here every day since the injury. We’re off to a good start there.”
On what he feels like is going to be different defensively in 2021:
“Well we definitely needed a lot of change. We knew going into the season last year the offense was ahead of the defense. I think like every year you’re trying to project how you think your team’s going to grow and navigate as the season goes on. We definitely were at the high end of adversity, the different challenges, I know my time as a head coach it was clearly the highest. So and our guys battled through it. We really didn’t get the defense where would have liked to get to until near the end of the year. And that’s clearly, the amount of changes primarily have been focused on the defense.
We feel like we needed to change directions coaching-wise. We were fortunate to be able to hire Dan Quinn and made some other staff changes. That has gone very well and we’re excited about what Dan brings. And also I think the personnel changes on defense. We’ve been talking about changing the type of players on defense since I got here. We felt like we needed to get a lot longer, bigger in the defensive front. Feel like we’ve hit the target in both the veteran free agents and the defensive draft that we had this year. We look a lot different on defense than we did this time last year. But I also recognize we have a ton of work to do. And we have a lot of work to do so. We changed the system, the language, still want to be a little more aggressive with the volume of scheme. But at the end of the day we needed to get longer, play with a lot more length. It’s definitely, the body types, the men that we brought in here reflect that.”
The Cowboys certainly made a number of defensive changes and clearly did want to get longer in different spots. Whether or not that ultimately is the difference between what happened last year and the success that we all want to see them have obviously remains to be seen.
Do you like hearing what the Cowboys were going for defensively? Do you feel like they did what they wanted to do effectively?