The Dallas Cowboys are 3-1. It remains impossible to believe. Sure we can partly chalk up this three-game winning streak to the quality of Dallas’ opponents as of late. The Cincinnati Bengals rank 16th by overall team DVOA while the New York Giants are 23rd (the Washington Commanders are down near the bottom at 30th). But games don’t just win themselves.
So often things in sports are diluted down to being one or the other. Either the Cowboys are a terrible team taking advantage of more terrible teams or they are an elite group destined to repeat as division champions and challenge for their first NFC Championship Game appearance in over 30 years.
While we do not know what the future holds for this group as far as the quality of who they are the truth likely falls somewhere in the middle, although not necessarily at the exact midway mark.
There is more than enough credit to go around the Cowboys right now to give Mike McCarthy his share
Mike McCarthy has been the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 37 games.
Tyron Smith has played in 13 of those games. Dak Prescott has played in 22 of them. Tyron Smith and Dak Prescott are pretty important to the Dallas Cowboys, no?
Don’t get it wrong. The Cowboys are succeeding right now thanks to a lot of people. Micah Parsons might be the best defensive player in the NFL and Trevon Diggs is not far behind him (neither is DeMarcus Lawrence these days). Dan Quinn is doing a masterful job of utilizing all of the queens on this chess board like he is playing bughouse (real chess fans will know what bughouse is).
McCarthy made his way in the NFL on the offensive side of the ball and we have seen that come to life slowly for the Cowboys. Cooper Rush has limitations but Dallas is working around them. As far as the third phase of the game is concerned, the Cowboys have one of the most reliable kickers in the league right now in Brett Maher (it remains amazing) and outside of one shank, Bryan Anger is also handling his punting duties with his usual excellence.
Why then do so many Cowboys fans throw flowers in every direction but McCarthy’s? This is something that Kay Adams and I discussed on her show Up & Adams on Wednesday and she agrees that it is time to give Mike his props.
Back to the idea of one thing or another being true, this conversation often turns into extremes like it is a declaration that McCarthy is one of the best coaches in the NFL. But if any other coach in the NFL were making lemonade the way that McCarthy is he would be getting praise left and right.
Another common clapback to crediting McCarthy is that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is the one truly responsible for all success. We’re all big fans of Quinn, and he fully deserves all of the adoration that he gets, but the Cowboys defense could not stop the run last week against Washington for most of the game. Is that not something that shows how he is not infallible?
It is possible to praise Mike McCarthy, Dan Quinn, Micah Parsons, Cooper Rush, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarcus Lawrence, and/or whoever else you’d like. We do not have to exclude any one person, player, or coach because of any preconceived prior notions. This Cowboys group is doing an amazing job of sticking together right now, and as the figurehead for it all, McCarthy is entitled to his fair share of credit.
Jason Garrett was heralded for the job he did with Dak Prescott in 2016 after Tony Romo went down to injury, so much so that he wound up winning Coach of the Year honors at the end of the season. At the risk of equating now to 2016 with the constant arguments about Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush, if we made massive arguments then (rightly so) for Garrett to receive his flowers, then we should be operating somewhat similarly with McCarthy now.
It is okay to tip your hat to Mike McCarthy. He at the very least deserves that with what he is doing. Through two years and change he has won more games than he has lost without Dak Prescott under center. That was a type of challenge that his predecessor did not handle well at all.
Maybe a win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and Sean McVay will change some minds. Ultimately it is unlikely. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Mike McCarthy is he continues to thrive with or without the credit.