Trying to rationalize the Cowboys’ decision to bring back head coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t been easy for some. One likely reason for McCarthy’s return is that it gives Dallas something the rest of the NFC East may not have in 2024. While the Commanders, Eagles, and Giants all face big changes, the Cowboys will be running it back with the same group who’ve won 12 games three years in a row.
Yes, yes, what happens in the playoffs is what we’re all ticked off about right now. We know. But getting to the postseason is not a given, and the best way to punch that playoff ticket is by winning your division. While anything can happen next year, sticking with McCarthy and Dak Prescott would at least seem to make Dallas the favorites in the NFC East.
New York and Washington are still mired in issues. The Giants are keeping Brian Daboll as head coach but have a huge problem at quarterback. Daniel Jones is only in the second year of his veteran contract, set to count $47 million against the cap and with no relief until 2025 at the earliest. They may still draft someone and make Jones the highest-paid backup in football, but it’s not a recipe for immediate success.
The Commanders will definitely have a new head coach and likely major overhaul across the roster. How the next guy feels about QB Sam Howell’s potential will decide if yet another cornerstone of the franchise gets changed this offseason. Like New York, Washington just feels at least a year or two away from being formidable again.
Philadelphia is a different story. We know they have the pieces to be competitive, but has Nick Sirianni killed the team’s chemistry? Will the Eagles' heelish head coach get a chance to fix what’s broken or be seen as the cancer that needs excision? What about a seemingly fractured relationship with star WR A.J. Brown? And even if the locker room gets warm and cozy again, Philly still has an overall bad defense to fix.
You can see why Jerry Jones would look at the rest of the division and think Mike McCarthy, despite the visible warts, gives him a good shot next year. No, there won’t be much confidence or benefit of the doubt once the playoffs start. But at least the Cowboys should be able to ride the waves of change within the NFC East and get back into next season’s tournament.
Sure, this isn’t much consolation for the many in Cowboys Nation who want to see Jones hit the reset button. But at 81 years old, Dallas’ owner and general manager isn’t looking to start a rebuild project that he may not get to see the end of. He knows McCarthy can field a winning team, at least in the regular season, and is hoping that some offseason changes will finally push the Cowboys from postseason pretender to contender.
You’re right to be skeptical about Mike McCarthy being able to facilitate that push, or that it will happen with Dak Prescott at quarterback. Jerry Jones hasn’t earned any trust in that regard either. But like it or not, this is the nucleus of the Dallas Cowboys for at least one more year. All we can do now is hope for the best.