You may be unaware, but the only thing that happened to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason was head coach Mike McCarthy assuming the role of offensive play-caller only to announce to the world that he wanted to run the ball more. That’s it.
Obviously this is said in jest, but it is the way that some of the national media has acted over the course of the offseason. It is true that McCarthy said he wanted to run the ball back at the NFL Combine but it is also true that literally one week later his team traded for Brandin Cooks and released Ezekiel Elliott.
The head coach appeared on NFL Network on Saturday following practice and was asked about this overall disposition and offered a bit of a clarification.
“Well I’ll say this. I think the quote was more towards the change from 2020 to 2021. I think if you look at running attempts I think we’ll be similar to between ‘21 and ‘22. At the end of the day it’s about getting the ball distributed to your perimeter players. Obviously a big part of our offense the last two years primarily with Zeke and Tony, so that part of it is going to be different. We really wanted to build off what we established, I liked the run game particularly last year. Last two years. So we thought we just need to improve some things. I think the biggest difference for us will be more protection and in the pass game.”
It never made sense that McCarthy wanted every Cowboys game to feel like Army-Navy but that is the presentation that many have taken towards the team thanks to the initial comments.
What were those comments, you ask? Here is exactly what McCarthy said at the combine, comments that we partly about Kellen Moore’s departure and the team changing play callers.
“I’ve been where Kellen has been,” McCarthy said. “Kellen wants to light the scoreboard up. But I want to run the damn ball so I can rest my defense. Think when you’re a coordinator, you know but you’re in charge of the offense. Being a head coach and being a play-caller, you’re a little more in tune.
“I don’t desire to be the No. 1 offense in the league. I want to be the No. 1 team in the league with the number of wins and the championship. And if we gotta give up some production and take care of the ball better to get that, then that’s what we’ll do.”
It is not difficult to turn that statement into a narrative that works against McCarthy, such is life when you work for this particular organization. Many Cowboys fans found what McCarthy said to be a teeny bit scary relative to wanting to run the ball more, but if you are open-minded you can see how he is talking about an overall disposition of just being more efficient.
Whether you believe that or not, McCarthy was offered the chance to speak on this exact quote as mentioned and declined to double down.
Will this dissuade anyone from believing the Cowboys are going to be obsessed with the ground game, though? We all know the answer to that.