The Dallas Cowboys have won five games this season. While they have had seven total opportunities and winning them all would be preferred, it is hard to be mad right now.
Over the course of franchise history the Cowboys have won five of their first seven games a total of 30 times counting our present day. In the previous 29 instances, the team made the playoffs 28 times, those 1986 Cowboys just couldn’t find a way to get in with that start.
Sunday’s victory against the Los Angeles Rams improved the overall wins on the year to five, but it also added to the home-game winning streak that the Cowboys have going on. Dallas has properly defended their home turf 11 times in a row, a streak dating back to early last season, a staple quality of their head coach.
Mike McCarthy is not without flaws, we can certainly list plenty, but he has now overseen three separate home-game winning streaks of at least 11 games throughout his career (the previous two were during his stints as the head coach with the Green Bay Packers).
It is almost as if Mike McCarthy is well-accustomed to winning and is a big reason for it.
We are at a point now where it cannot be denied that Mike McCarthy has established a team that wins a lot of regular-season games
For the purposes of being fair to the overall goal here we have included the words “regular season” because, as you are painfully aware, the Dallas Cowboys have not reached an NFC Championship Game in a long time which means they have not strung together a lot of postseason wins in one fell swoop.
The Cowboys tasted their first bit of playoff success last year under Mike McCarthy’s watch when they beat Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round. But as noted, that was a win that only advanced them to the Divisional Round as opposed to through it.
We are at a stage where it cannot be denied that McCarthy has won an enormous amount of regular season games (the ones that help determine who are the playoff teams) since the 2021 season began. We are starting our discussion with this season because the 2020 campaign was off for a number of reasons, but in football terms most notably because the franchise quarterback suffered a season-ending injury in October.
Now that we have established that, the Dallas Cowboys have won more games over the last two years and change than all but three teams.
Most regular season wins (2021-present)
- Kansas City Chiefs, 32
- Philadelphia Eagles, 30
- Buffalo Bills, 30
- Dallas Cowboys, 29
- San Francisco 49ers, 28
The recent slump that San Francisco has found themselves in, one that began after demolishing the Cowboys, has allowed Dallas to pass them in this particular capacity. Given that the Cowboys will be in Philadelphia this weekend, they have an opportunity to even themselves up with the Eagles as well.
But is this not impressive? Objectively it is hard to say anything else. This is “only” a sample size of two years and change but it is representative of who the Cowboys have become during the time that McCarthy’s program has allowed itself to manifest and take shape.
There are a lot of things that are fair to criticize when it comes to McCarthy and the ship that he runs. We had some harsh words for him in our stock report following the Cowboys win against the Los Angeles Chargers. But it’s hard to be dissatisfied with these kind of regular-season results.
Odds are that people will see that and say that this is fine and dandy but that the game is played for the purposes of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. And they are correct. History is written by the winners and you have to swipe the pen in the playoffs when the stakes are the highest. This doesn’t make things better, but consider that McCarthy isn’t as far off from the teams in question if we look at postseason success specifically for the five up top.
Playoff records for the five teams just mentioned (2021-present)
- Kansas City Chiefs, 5-1 (including a win in Super Bowl LVI)
- Philadelphia Eagles, 2-1
- Buffalo Bills, 2-2
- Dallas Cowboys, 1-2
- San Francisco 49ers, 4-2
If we wanted to get really picky we could note that the only team with multiple losses coming to another team on this list is the Cowboys. Losing is not to be tolerated but the Cowboys have had some unfortunate luck in that they have run into a buzzsaw (for what it’s worth the Eagles only loss here is to the Chiefs).
Similarly we could poke holes in a few wins that other teams have had if we wanted to as well. The Eagles rolled through the Daniel Jones-led Giants and the 49ers who were without a proper quarterback last season. Buffalo took down the Mac Jones-led Patriots two years ago before barley surviving against a Miami Dolphins team that was down multiple quarterbacks last year. This isn’t about any of those things, simply about adding context.
The facts of this discussion are that McCarthy has won an incredible number of football games since he got his feet under him and that he has also done things like make sure the Cowboys are solid coming out of their bye, that they respond well after getting embarrassed, and that they have a home building that they are capable of defending. Over McCarthy’s tenure there have been people lining up to credit Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Rodgers alone for all of his past success, so unless you are willing to say that Dak Prescott is having that same effect then McCarthy deserves some kudos.
Consider that McCarthy is one of just three coaches (Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy) to have established multiple winning streaks at home of at least 11 games over the course of this century. Again, either Dak Prescott belongs in conversations with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning or you need to clap and cheer for Mr. McCarthy. He is the only person in the same timeframe to do this with multiple teams which reinforces that he himself is deserving of plenty of praise.
It is highly likely that at the end of the McCarthy era that people will only discuss how he fared in the playoffs, that is sport after all.
But McCarthy is making sure that those opportunities for criticism continue to happen on an annual basis. Nobody hangs a banner for that, but it does matter.