As die-hard Cowboys fans go, I think I can claim a pretty solid status. I got on board in 1976. My dad was a Cowboys fan, so I became one and then my son became one. Unfortunately for my son, he has never witnessed so much as an NFC Championship appearance by the ‘boys, much less a Super Bowl. And he’s 26.
Well over a year ago, it became apparent that Ezekiel Elliot was the second-most talented RB on the Cowboys roster. And so naturally, I expected McCarthy to give Tony Pollard, one of the most gifted backs in the league by any metric and a threat to take it to the house on any play, the bulk of the carries.
When that didn’t happen in the regular season, I thought, "Well, they have to make Pollard the lead back for the playoffs, it only makes sense."
Nope. Wrong again.
Zeke has that contract. All those tens of millions of dollars. Pollard doesn’t have that. While I don’t have the evidence, I will simply say this: There isn’t anyone who can convince me that Jerry Jones isn’t insisting that Zeke be the "bell cow" on this team. And if I’m right, then McCarthy has gone along with that.
So that begins my list of reasons to feel confident that the Jones’ aren’t prioritizing winning another SB above all else. If you can’t admit you were wrong about a contract and simply play the better player, then your ego is more important than another title.
Next, McCarthy himself. Not a coach known for running a tight, disciplined ship. Instead, a guy who prides himself on giving his team extra rest and justifying it with modern metrics about players’ activity levels, etc. Nice. But this is NFL football and the strongest and most disciplined teams survive in the playoffs. Dallas doesn’t need a "players coach."
So after Dallas sets an all-time NFL record for penalties in a playoff game, we get a vote of full confidence in the head coach, who never got a handle on the penalties—from team ownership.
But the penalties and general lack of discipline aren’t the only reason it’s inexcusable for ownership to give McCarthy full confidence after that one-and-done debacle.
We must discuss the offensive line. This was a problem for over half the season. Holding penalties, pre-snap penalties. And most importantly, the obvious fact that they didn’t have the center or left guard positions figured out at all. Was any of this sorted out, rectified in any way prior to the playoffs? No. McCarthy had nothing. No answers. Great coaching staffs and great teams figure out their offensive line issues as they arise. Not this staff.
Jerry Jones wants desperately for the football world to believe he’s a great GM, not just an owner. But he hasn’t a clue how to be a great GM, other than to pay Will McClay to do most of the heavy lifting. The problem, of course, is that even though McClay has a done a brilliant job finding talent for this team, Jerry continues to enable weak head-coaching, so long as they always protect his ego by pretending the players he over-paid are still elite NFL starters at their position. Jason Garrett did this for Jones and guided his teams to mediocrity for at least five years longer than most teams would have tolerated. It appears that life with McCarthy will be much of the same. I don’t care about the regular season record that was fluffed with a slate of awful opponents. Losing at home in the wild-card round is mediocrity.
The Jones family is about vainly protecting their egos and selling merch and tickets and marketing packages above all else. If we had any sense, Cowboys fans, we would simply boycott his team until these fundamental facts change for good.