It’s been a bumpy ride for Mike McCarthy since taking over as the Cowboys head coach in 2020. In year one, he lost his quarterback for most of the season, made a poor hire at defensive coordinator which led to a historically bad defense that season, and finished with a 6-10 record good for third in the NFC East.
Year two has looked much different for the Cowboys as they rolled their way into the playoffs as the number three seed, and host a playoff game this weekend against the San Fransisco 49ers. With plenty of legit excuses in 2020 for the team’s lack of success, there are none heading into the playoffs as of today.
Heading into Wild Card weekend, McCarthy has one of, if not the healthiest team in the National Football League. A week after a bit of a COVID-19 scare, it looks as if the Cowboys will be near full strength heading into their matchup with San Francisco with all of their players off the COVID list this week after a few missed the regular-season finale last week. McCarthy’s offense is at nearly full strength, just missing Michael Gallup. Some banged up players saw some much needed rest last week like Tony Pollard and Tyron Smith, and outside of Gallup’s torn ACL suffered just two weeks ago against Arizona, the Cowboys offense is all systems go.
The defense is also relatively healthy heading into round one of the playoffs. Keanu Neal is really the only big question mark, after injuring his elbow/chest on Saturday Night against the Eagles. Outside of Neal, Randy Gregory has been dealing with multiple nagging injuries, but did not appear on the injury report on Wednesday. The only other defenders who did appear on the injury report was LB Francis Bernard (limited), Israel Mukuamu (limited), and Nahshon Wright (DNP-not injury related).
The biggest question mark heading into the 49ers game from a team perspective is currently the kicker. While he’s had plenty of struggles down the stretch, McCarthy must find a way to pull this game out given how healthy his team is in this matchup. The 49ers are a good football team. They present some unique challenges for the Cowboys, but there is no one who would currently say they are the more talented team from top-to-bottom.
In that case, it’ll fall on Mike McCarthy to let his experience in these situations shine on the biggest stage he’s been on since taking over as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s in great position to have a nice playoff run, with one of the more talented rosters we’ve seen from the Cowboys in the last 10-15 years. If the Cowboys can’t pull it out, many Cowboys fans will rightly be disappointed with a first-round exit after the season they had in 2021, the fact their favored in this football game with the home field advantage.
If they do fall short, this will start to feel eerily similar to the Jason Garrett era.