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An argument for Mike McCarthy to call offensive plays in 2022, whether Kellen Moore returns or not

It is time to see what Mike McCarthy can really do for the Cowboys.

NFL: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

At present time it is unknown whether or not offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is going to return to the Dallas Cowboys in 2022. He is currently in the running for the head coaching post with the Miami Dolphins and Jerry Jones already confirmed that Mike McCarthy would be returning to lead his team next season which - by Jerry’s logic - jeopardizes Moore returning as well.

Consensus around the football cognoscenti seems to be that the Dolphins will go with San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, but whether or not McDaniel even wants the job (or whether Moore does for that matter) remains to be seen. The Dolphins aren’t exactly in the headlines for good reasons these days.

Obviously this decision is in the hands (the fins, if you will) of the Dolphins and whatever they do will be something the Cowboys may or may not have to react to. Regardless of what decision Miami makes, my own personal view is the Cowboys should make one of their own in 2022, and it would be a big one concerning the team’s offense.

Mike McCarthy should call offensive plays in 2022, whether Kellen Moore returns or not

How someone feels about Kellen Moore these days isn’t going to change. Some people are ready to move on from him and are rooting for the Dolphins to conveniently hire him away, others are fair in noting that Moore’s best days as a play-caller may still be in front of him.

The argument today is not about the value of Kellen Moore, but rather the actual head coach of the team in Mike McCarthy. While people have made up their minds on how they feel about him, the reality concerning McCarthy is that 2022 is an important year to figure out who he is relative to the Dallas Cowboys.

Chatter about Sean Payton is only going to heat up with every passing day - we have already reached some insane points with it - and if the Cowboys are going to try and replace one Super Bowl winner with another then they have to have a full understanding of Mike McCarthy’s ceiling as a head coach.

McCarthy made his way in the NFL on the offensive side of the ball and oversaw (credit him however much you would like to) some of the league’s most potent units with the Green Bay Packers. He has been firm in his return to coaching that he believes an offensive coordinator and not the head coach should be the team’s play-caller on gamedays which is why he has delegated the responsibility to Moore. Consider what he told Peter King on the subject back in December of 2019:

On an example of how he feels he is going to take something he learned into his new world:

“Well I think it’s like anything. When you have time to reflect, the brutal honest with yourself is where you’re going to get the most value. I’ve looked at every coaching staff, every decision, installation of offense, scheduling. We practiced on Fridays then we didn’t practice on Fridays. When you have a chance to look at all of those things it gives you a more distinct focus on exactly how you’ll approach that next one. So the one thing just to give you a direct answer to your question. If you’re going to call the offense, if you’re going to be the play-caller on Sunday, you need to be the major installer on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. That’s something that I got away from in the second half of my career there in Green Bay.”

It is commendable that McCarthy has stuck to his guns on this idea. He made a determination about why his time in Green Bay came to an end, made a vow to be different upon his return, and he has lived up to that. All of that makes sense.

The thing is that the offense broke over the second half of the season and McCarthy seemingly didn’t do a thing to stop it. As the captain of the ship he saw it taking on water and decided to trust the commanders (no, not those) he put in charge of those responsibilities to fix the issue. We have reached the point where the captain has to roll up his sleeves and do some work, too.

If McCarthy holds so much conviction that the play-caller needs to be the person who installs the offense then maybe in an offensive-driven league with a team that has so much allegedly-rich offensive talent he should be the one installing the offense. This isn’t to say that McCarthy doesn’t have other responsibilities that demand his time and energy, but clearly the way that things were intended to work did not do so to the degree that they needed to.

The Cowboys have to find out what kind of offensive influence Mike McCarthy can truly have

All of this brings us back to the point of the Cowboys needing to fully understand what they have in their head coach. It would be sort of a waste of time for us to run all the way through the 2022 season just for McCarthy to cry foul about how he never had a chance to install his offense and that things will be much better in 2023 and beyond when he has the opportunity to do so. This story reads like someone in his position would blame the Cowboys for wanting Kellen Moore to stay on board when McCarthy took over.

We are entering the third year of McCarthy’s reign which means serious results have to start happening. While, yes, the team did have a semblance of success this past season, they did not have the kind that McCarthy specifically was brought in to yield. The advocating happening here isn’t necessarily that he will be a good play-caller or better one than Moore, but the Cowboys have to find that out, don’t they?

Forgive me, but the situation we are in reminds me of the original Toy Story (incidentally released during the last year that the Dallas Cowboys won a Super Bowl). I will assume you have seen it since we are over 26 years removed, but think back to the scene where Buzz Lightyear first meets the rest of the toys and starts to rub Woody (ironically, a Cowboy) the wrong way.

Buzz is under the belief that he is an actual space ranger and not a toy and is insistent of this overall idea. Woody, aware of their actual reality, is telling Buzz that he is a toy and cannot really fly. The two argue and the latter challenges the so-called space ranger to take the sky and impress them all.

Looking to prove himself right, Buzz hops off of the bed and proceeds to luck his way into the appearance of flying, impressing everyone but his lone doubter. While he does technically go on to fly later in the movie you will have to pretend that does not happen so that I can make my final point since we have reached quite the stretch in analogy here.

The Dallas Cowboys are Woody and Mike McCarthy is Buzz. McCarthy loves to talk about how high his offenses can fly and flash his shiny Super Bowl Ring-shaped spaceship.

So whether Kellen Moore is back or not the Cowboys need to see just what kind of heights McCarthy can reach. Once they do they can make a full determination on who he is and whether or not he is what their football team needs. They have made up their mind to charge forward with him into 2022 at least, and that year cannot be one spent in vain.

Beyond the notion that the Cowboys themselves should want to figure out just who McCarthy is the head coach himself should also give consideration to calling plays, should he not? If he really is the tall-walking coach that knows how to build contenders as he often says, shouldn’t he want to go out Frank Sinatra style if this really is his swan song? His way, right?

The passivity has reached a breaking point. Someone has to grab a hold of this. That person should be the head coach, that is sort of the way that these things work.