The Dallas Cowboys did it to us once again, they pulled us all back in with a promising season ended by a disappointing playoff loss to a team they should have been able to beat. While we all should have seen this coming, we let hope creep in like we always do to our detriment. The Cowboys are now in offseason rebuild mode. Yes I said rebuild, each team regardless of what they say in the offseason is looking to rebuild their team via the draft, and free agency. The Cowboys must first start at the top and really analyze how their head coach performed this season from start to finish.
Mike McCarthy has been bold at times where his methods have paid off, and at times they haven’t and hurt the team in the end. With a really qualified coordinator on the payroll that has head coaching experience and proven credibility with his players, one would assume the Cowboys are going to really take a hard look at this situation regardless of what they say to the media.
Let’s take a look at some reasons they would want to keep, or fire, based on what we’ve seen out of him so far starting with the positive.
Reasons why they will keep Mike McCarthy
Pedigree and Reputation
If you’re looking for a head coach that has has success in the NFL then McCarthy is a coach that owners and GMs gravitate towards. They have seen how he can lead teams to the playoffs and he’s won a Super Bowl. Teams are always looking to see if with a new environment they are able to get their team back on the right track with a coach. His 125-77-2 record with the Green Bay Packers still holds weight, and whether you like it or not, he still has a winning record with the Cowboys at 18-15 while dealing with the loss of his starting quarterback last season, along with injuries to the offensive line and losing players to COVID both years.
Team Unity and Moral
McCarthy has had to deal with season-ending injuries at critical positions on his team along with juggling players and coaches that are on and off the COVID list as well. During those times he was able to keep his team in games which shows that he has the confidence of his players who believe in his coaching philosophy and style. McCarthy seems to be a player's coach and this Cowboys roster has been playing hard for him. Case in point, when La’el Collins and Ezekiel Elliott came to defend Dak Prescott on what looked to be a late hit in the Washington game, saying “LC did exactly what you’re supposed to do there”. That showed he’s willing to fight for his players just as much as they do for each other.
The Cowboys, through all of the tough breaks they have been given, have improved under McCarthy since his arrival. The defense took steps in the right direction and so did the offense to a certain extent. It will be hard to get rid of a coach that also just won the division for the first time since 2018 and did it going undefeated against the entire NFC East. You also have to like to progress that Dak Prescott has made under McCarthy who is also seen as a quarterback guru. He has shown that during his time with the team Prescott has made a jump in terms of his play on the field.
Reasons they could fire McCarthy
Time Management Issues
McCarthy has always had problems with time management during his time as a head coach but when you’ve taken over for former head coach Jason Garrett, who time and time again made mistakes with timeouts and poor clock management, you’d assume that’s something you don’t want to continue. Yet, McCarthy at times again this season used poor clock management and ill-advised timeouts which hurt the Cowboys in games. None bigger than the call for a quarterback draw with 14 seconds left in a game and no timeouts to stop the clock. This just looks like something he will be unable to shake regardless of where he goes.
It’s clear that the group that made the biggest jump this season was the defense for the Cowboys. The arrival of Dan Quinn and his ability to relate to the players got his unit to buy in completely. He turned a defense ranked 28th overall and with just 27 turnovers last season into the seventh-ranked defense with 49 turnovers in the NFL in just one season. That kind of turnaround isn’t easy to do. He also delivered a victory over the New Orleans Saints while McCarthy was out with COVID. If the Cowboys feel he can do for the entire team what he did with the defense then McCarthy could become expendable.
When you’re the most penalized team in the NFL that shows a lack of discipline and that begins with the head coach. Last season the Cowboys saw 96 yellow flags for a total of 849 yards in penalties against them. You’d think that a stat like that would have your head coach putting more of an emphasis on bringing that number down, instead, it rose to 141 flags for a whopping 1,192 yards in penalties against them. If McCarthy tried to get his team on track it clearly didn’t work. That would have to make you wonder if that was made a priority at all by McCarthy because each game the Cowboys would build momentum only to lose it on a holding call, block in the back, or defensive pass interference call. If he can’t get that under control then management could look for someone who will.