Mike McCarthy hung his play-calling hat in the closet after being let go from Green Bay during the 2018 season. There it would sit for five years, waiting for another opportunity. After the Dallas Cowboys decided to part ways with Kellen Moore, the hat has been dusted off and is ready for use once more in 2023.
It will be the first time during his tenure in Dallas that McCarthy will be in charge of relaying the calls to Dak Prescott in the huddle. When the Jones family hired McCarthy as their head coach, they were hiring an offensive mind with proven success that helped lead his team to the Super Bowl. Vice President Stephen Jones agrees with McCarthy, believing that a change was needed if the Cowboys are getting to the next level in year three.
Stephen Jones confirmed that Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy and former OC Kellen Moore didn't jive philosophically pic.twitter.com/sNclostCxs— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) February 1, 2023
“He [McCarthy] wants, just like you would a quarterback and like you would any coach, you want them to thrive and bring what they bring to the table,” Stephen Jones said during an interview at the Senior Bowl. “I just think Mike wanted Kellen to roll, but he didn’t totally 100 percent agree with all of the philosophies and the small things that go into...ya know, if you will, make the changes that he thinks will make a difference that he didn’t necessarily think Kellen might have believed in.”
Change is expected when a new coordinator or play-caller steps in. However, this situation is unique because McCarthy has been in Dallas since 2020, and newly appointed offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was with the Cowboys last season as an offensive consultant. So there is familiarity with how the offense was run. The question is “how” much change will be taking place?
“Right now, Mike told me [about] 20-30% change,” Prescott said to Yahoo Sports writer Jori Epstein. “I think if anything, it’s things that need to be changed. It’s great to dial in, fix some things, get sharper and crisper. I’m excited.”
Can certainty and uncertainty be true at the same time? In this case, the answer is yes.
It’s certain that things needed to be changed, as Prescott mentioned. There were complaints about opposing teams discovering Moore’s predictability on offense and not getting the ball to the best players. It’s bringing up old dirt, but a big key to the Cowboys losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 Wild Card game was because CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard were not involved.
What’s uncertain is what version of Mike McCarthy’s offense fans will see. Will it be everything from his West Coast offense in Green Bay? Or will it stem from McCarthy’s time away from football, where he studied analytics and the new offensive trends? Owner Jerry Jones believes it will be a mix of everything.
Jerry Jones said Mike McCarthy taking over playcalling duties is the logical step for the franchise. pic.twitter.com/9jb1qtVytn— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) February 1, 2023
“It will be, I’m sure with added nuances of the times, but more importantly, the personnel,” Jerry Jones said at the Senior Bowl. “It will be, in principle, the way he operated in Green Bay.”
Whatever style McCarthy decides to run with input from Schottenheimer, it will come down to the play of Prescott and returning to the quarterback ownership knows he can be. If Prescott’s excitement is any indicator of what’s in store for the Cowboys’ offense this season, certainly expect a step forward from the entire unit.
“I’m a big believer in change and I’m excited for Mike calling the plays. I’m excited for Schotty. I’m excited for just being able to dial into this offense and just really get it to where we want it to be,” Prescott said to Epstein. “I’m excited as hell.”