Mike McCarthy just put a bow on another 12-win regular season and his second NFC East title in three years. That would be enough for some owners, but Jerry Jones is apparently taking a wait-and-see approach to McCarthy’s future beyond 2023 based on how things go in the playoffs.
While McCarthy’s contract with Dallas runs through 2024, that certainly guarantees him nothing. Even before this season, Jones was pretty clear that this was a do-or-die situation for McCarthy’s job with the Cowboys. That mentality appears unchanged now as we transition into the playoffs, despite what McCarthy’s team has already accomplished.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when asked about a report that Mike McCarthy needs to do well in the postseason to have a secure spot with his job going forward: "I just think his record speaks for itself. I think of what he's done and that we've put ourselves in this position over…— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 8, 2024
When asked directly about Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys future, owner Jerry Jones said “we’ll see how each game goes” in the playoffs.— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) January 8, 2024
“We’ll see how each game goes.” There’s no dancing around it; McCarthy is still under review. And even if they do finally reach the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1995, will Jones be satisfied if they get embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers again?
McCarthy wasn’t brought to Dallas to win a lot of regular-season games and the occasional division title. Jones already had that with Jason Garrett, Wade Phillips, and others before them. That’s been the team’s track record for about 20 years now, ever since Bill Parcells helped lift the franchise out of the muck of the post-dynasty era.
No, McCarthy was supposed to elevate the Cowboys into a Super Bowl contender. His championship experience with Green Bay was supposed to be the secret sauce that finally made Dallas what Jones has longed to get back to from the 1990s.
Jones’ noncommittal answer regarding McCarthy could be seen as just a bet hedge. He may have no real intention of firing him. But if the Cowboys do get punked in the playoffs, why would he want to have a quote hanging out there that fans and media could throw back in his face? Better to look magnanimous than incompetent.
Or, as some have already proposed, could the potential availability of a certain coach from New England be in the back of Jones’ mind? If McCarthy’s one Super Bowl win was enough to entice the Cowboys in 2020, how much more would the six that Bill Belichick won with the Patriots?
Like Jerry Jones, we’re all waiting to see how the next games go. As much as we hope for a new chapter in the Cowboys’ modern history, a continuation of longstanding disappointment is still possible. Clearly, if Mike McCarthy doesn’t get Dallas over the hump this year, he may not get another chance.