It has often been said that whoever occupies the head coach post for the Dallas Cowboys is merely a puppet for Jerry Jones’ ultimate wishes and commands. Whether or not you believe that is up to you.
When the Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy two years ago it seemed like they were heading in a more stern direction lead by their coach. McCarthy brought a Super Bowl ring on his finger to town and seemed to be someone who had the caché to do what he wanted with regards to his team, but the results from the last two seasons haven’t exactly indicated that.
We discussed the relationship between McCarthy and Jerry Jones on the latest BTB Roundtable. You can listen above or watch on YouTube right here. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
The relationship that McCarthy has with Jerry is of course important given the role(s) that Jerry has within the organization. As team owner, president, and general manager, it is Jerry’s way or the highway which is something that the Pro Football Hall of Famer has reminded McCarthy about with some public comments on this young offseason. These were comments that didn’t necessarily make McCarthy look great.
It seems McCarthy was listening and that he is not pleased.
A timeline of how Jerry Jones created the mess that Mike McCarthy responded to on Tuesday
To understand what happened on Tuesday we have to first back up and make sure you remember the events from last month.
On Friday, January 21st (the first Friday after the season ended) Jerry Jones went on 105.3 The Fan and declined to fully commit to Mike McCarthy returning as the team’s head coach. He had multiple opportunities to announce that McCarthy would be back and was purposefully coy. That is completely on Jerry.
Jerry Jones @1053thefan said he's not ready to talk about the status of his coaches. However, "I got everyone under contract that I want under contract."— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) January 21, 2022
Jerry Jones: "It's not in their best interest right now to talk about where they are as a staff." https://t.co/XNK7WpY0dH— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) January 21, 2022
Emotions were tense after the Cowboys disappointed in the playoffs (again) and perhaps Jerry was seriously mulling over making a change at head coach two years into The McCarthy Project™️. Whatever the case, he had every chance to back up McCarthy and declined to do so.
This was the last scheduled Jerry appearance on The Fan as the season was officially over for the team, but as he is Jerry Jones he decided to speak again. Just one week later Jerry made a surprise appearance on the home of the Cowboys after it had been reported that Dan Quinn would be returning as the team’s defensive coordinator. Beyond celebrating Quinn’s return, Jerry explained that he was purposely vague regarding McCarthy’s job status so as to increase his team’s odds of retaining Quinn. Seriously.
Jerry Jones is trying to say that he never definitively said Mike McCarthy would be back for another season as Cowboys head coach last week because it was all part of his plan to keep Dan Quinn on staff— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 28, 2022
More Jones to DMN: He again stressed not offering public support to McCarthy was a strategic decision because he was concerned doing so could, “influence the balance of some relative interest in Dan.”— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) January 28, 2022
Cited that Sean Payton, Jason Garrett & now Quinn have stayed despite HC oops.
This was at best an incredibly poor strategy and in reality a very public indication that Jerry isn’t exactly in love with Mike McCarthy. Dangling your head coach isn’t a sign of belief and Jerry Jones literally said on the radio that he did so in order to keep someone around who could very well replace McCarthy if things go south in 2022. Anyone in McCarthy’s shoes would understandably be upset.
What’s more is beyond the Dan Quinn of this all Sean Payton became a factor when he retired from coaching the New Orleans Saints under the impression that he will one day return to coaching, perhaps even as soon as 2023. Jerry did sort of squash any Payton ideas, but again by offering any insinuation that he wasn’t head over heels for McCarthy he breathed life into a narrative that McCarthy is somewhat unwanted.
Mike McCarthy just returned serve to Jerry Jones regarding head coach controversy comments
Until Tuesday all of the talking here had been done by Jerry Jones (what a surprise!). Out of nowhere though Mike McCarthy made an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show and was pressed about this whole situation.
Amazingly, McCarthy was rather transparent. He talked about the narrative that has taken off and expressed some displeasure that the situation is what it is. He called it uncommon. Welcome to the Dallas Cowboys.
McCarthy: "Are these narratives unusual? Absolutely. I've never dealt with anything like this. Do I wish I didn't have to come on here and answer questions about it? Yeah, no doubt about it. I wish we were talking about something else, but it's part of our landscape." https://t.co/WPDEX7zN6B— Shan Shariff (@1053SS) February 16, 2022
Today, Mike McCarthy was asked by @richeisen about the speculation that Dan Quinn could one day have his job. This quote is one of the more transparent things I’ve heard him say.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) February 16, 2022
It’s also one of the most “only the Cowboys” quotes I’ve heard in a long time. pic.twitter.com/90Su4rv0Bs
It is more than fair to be critical of Mike McCarthy for how this past season ended. His team fell flat on their faces after falling apart over the second half of the season. To make matters worse he has a group looking to make excuses by way of things like officiating before they show any accountability, a disposition that he himself exemplifies when behind a microphone.
As true as that is though it is more than understandable that he would be angered by what Jerry Jones has been saying in the media. He is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, not Dan Quinn or Sean Payton, and using him as some sort of puppet in a larger game is illogical and cruel.
What is the endgame for Jerry here? To light a fire under McCarthy? That feels like an awful lot of credit to give someone who is notoriously known for stirring the pot. McCarthy’s comments to Eisen on Tuesday show that there is a bit of a toxic situation unfolding that will not be going away throughout the upcoming 2022 season. McCarthy is destined to look over his shoulder at every turn either at the defensive coordinator on his staff or the would-be legend of Sean Payton lurking in the distance. It is only this way because Jerry Jones created it to be.
Some will look at McCarthy’s comments and applaud him for clapping back and putting his foot down. Maybe that’s what he is doing. Hopefully it is.
But if McCarthy runs things back in the same sort of way and lets everybody else handle all of the operations and is content with being some sort of figurehead then how upset is he really? If McCarthy is truly this bothered then the time has come for him to cash in on his Super Bowl-winning credentials and remind everyone that he has done what they have not.
His very future may depend on it.