Cowboys 1st & 10: Would Jerry Fire McCarthy?

Is Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy's job on line as we preview Jerry Jones' 2-4 team's trip to Washington?
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Jerry Jones has fired head coaches. He’s fired legendary head coaches. He’s fired Super Bowl-winning head coaches. He’s fired head coaches with busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s fired a head coach that used to be a Dallas Cowboys quarterback. He’s even fired a head coach in the middle of a season.

But he’s never fired a head coach after one season on the job.

1) Hot Seat?

In this space last weekend, I struck quite the optimistic tone about the Cowboys’ chances of rebounding despite not having Dak Prescott at quarterback. That wasn’t to diminish what Prescott had accomplished, or to indicate that the Cowboys were better off without Prescott (they most certainly were not). It was just to show that the Cowboys had enough tools to stay in games and get the season moving back in a positive direction.

The Arizona game changed that math. It wasn’t just that the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals on Monday night. They looked awful, disinterested and unable to execute. A couple of players took the coaching staff to the woodshed after the game (you can read more about that in my next entry) and even head coach Mike McCarthy said the team’s ‘trend line was not point in the right direction.’

Um, duh, Mike. And it has the opportunity to get much worse.

The Cowboys’ next three games are against Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. If you had told me at the start of the season that the Cowboys COULD lose all three of those games and be 2-7 going into their bye week, I would have laughed. But that possibility now exists.

The Washington and Philadelphia games are basically pick ’em games. They’re divisional games, of course, so they should be close. But the Cowboys are disastrously banged up now that right guard Zach Martin is in the concussion protocol and won’t play on Sunday. Washington is no better, but they’re no worse, either. Philadelphia is probably a little better than either Dallas or Washington, and the Eagles can count a nice road win against San Francisco earlier this season as a positive.

As for Pittsburgh, well, good luck with that. The Steelers are as good as any team in football right now, and for that matter as healthy as any team in football. That could change in a few weeks, but there is plenty of talent to lead me to believe that Terry Bradshaw could start at quarterback that week and the Steelers could still win.

So let’s just say the Cowboys lose all three of those games and they ARE 2-7 going into the bye week. What then?

I think, at that point, Jones has to AT LEAST entertain the thought of firing McCarthy.

Here’s why. Jones wanted an experienced hand who had won a Super Bowl to take over for Jason Garrett, one that could take this team to the next level. McCarthy inherited a team that was talented and, especially on offense, primed to take another step. After all, McCarthy had done it with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, right?

Well, Prescott DEFINITELY took a step forward before his injury. That was certainly something Jones was hoping for. By extension, the passing game as a whole took a step forward.

But the rest of this team is a disaster. Ezekiel Elliott suddenly has the fumbles. The offensive line is, obviously, banged up, but the depth isn’t getting it done, either. The defense is plain awful. There are injuries, but not nearly enough to excuse the Cowboys’ awful start to the 2020 season.

Yes, Bob, that’s bad. 

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s system — I guess we can call it that — has only made Aldon Smith a standout (and now he’s starting to fight injury issues himself). The secondary is a disaster. Jaylon Smith has had some of the worst games of his career to this point. The special-teams group hasn’t been much better.

You can give McCarthy a check mark for the passing attack the first five games. But you can also give him a big minus for the rest of the team to this point, including his coordinator hires. I guess the only good news is that no one is complaining about offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s age anymore. That pales in comparison to the rest of this.

The point is the season, to me, is lost, even if the Cowboys manage to cobble enough wins together to win the division (we covered what that might take here). But how many games the Cowboys win — and how good they look doing it — might help determine whether Jones makes a move this offseason.

I know that SOUNDS like an over-reaction. But remember — Jones is 78 years old. Prescott’s window to win a title may be wide-open, even while missing the rest of this season, but Jones’ window is shutting fast. He’s on the clock and grabbing one more Lombardi Trophy is something that likely haunts him in between glasses of Johnnie Walker Blue.

And when that gap between the window and the sill narrows, sometimes you do the unthinkable.

2) The feedback from Arizona

The Cowboys’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night was embarrassing, debilitating, ridiculous — pick an adjective. And as our Mike Fisher pointed out, the Cowboys spent the next couple of days doing what teams do in these situations — venting. And, honestly, we in the media (because we like stories, not because we hate teams) eat it up when they do.

For instance, we dig into it when players hit up the NFL Network’s Jane Slater — two different players, in fact — and calls the staff “totally unprepared” and that the coaching staff “just aren’t good at their jobs.”

Our Locked on Cowboys team, Marcus Mosher and Landon McCool, had the post-mortem on Monday’s disaster and one of their questions was rather salient — what constitutes a successful season at this point?

And running back Ezekiel Elliott gave us plenty to write about during his Zoom session with the media when he told us that it’s time for the Cowboys to keep all of this “in-house.” And Elliott probably has as much to answer for as anyone after his performance on Monday night.

Head coach Mike McCarthy’s response to all of this? He’s aware of it and he told the media the players should come “talk to me.”

In reality, we as media don’t love the losing. Ask anyone who covers any team full-time and they’ll tell you that we’d much rather cover a winning team. But that’s where we are right now, a 2-4 Cowboys team that is venting to the media. 

And the only thing that will stop it, honestly, is a win on Sunday against Washington.

3) Check out the Cowboy Maven Top 60 All-Time Dallas Cowboys

We published our Top 60 Dallas Cowboys of all-time as part of our celebration of the Cowboys’ 60 seasons in Dallas. We presented the Top 60 in groups of five. We hope you enjoyed the series and if you have an opinion, take them to our Cowboy Maven community or hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.

If you missed any of the stories in our Top 60, just click on them below.

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 56-60

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 51-55

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 46-50

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 41-45

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 36-40

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 31-35

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 26-30

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 21-25

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 16-20

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 11-15

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 6-10

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 1-5

Cowboys Anniversary Countdown: Top 60 (Plus) Moments

Five Super Bowls. 10 conference championships. 23 division titles. 18 Hall of Famers. A lifetime of goosebumps. America’s Team.

Despite the existence of an entire generation of DFW 20-somethings that have yet to witness it with their own eyes, the Dallas Cowboys were once a successful, superior organization.

They’re still proud. Still relevant. Just, let’s be honest, no longer as good as they used to be.

Our Richie Whitt dives into the Top 60 Moments in Dallas Cowboys history.

4) Cowboys Injury Update

It's one name.

➡️ Cowboys at Washington: Zack Martin Injury Update

It's a big name.

5) Locked on Cowboys: Should Dallas Trade For Quinnen Williams?

Should the Dallas Cowboys make a trade for a difference-maker at defensive tackle?

In today's episode of our "Locked On Cowboys'' podcast, hosts Marcus Mosher and Landon McCool ponder that interesting question, as the New York Jets are in strip-down mode and the Cowboys are in ...

Well, besides the fact that by Sunday the Cowboys will be in Washington, we're not sure what mode the Cowboys are in.

In six games so far this season in New York, Williams, just 22, has totaled two sacks, 24 tackles, and four tackles for loss. The 6-3, 300-pound Williams was the No. 3 overall pick in 2019 and has two-plus years and $9.8 million left on his contract.

So the Alabama product is young, talented and affordable. ... causing one to wonder why he's even available.

Listen to more of Locked on Cowboys by clicking here.

6) Things that will help you this Sunday vs. The Washington Football Team

If you’re still getting ready for Sunday’s game with the Washington Football Team, here is some great content to get you prepped:

➡️ BREAKING: Cowboys Ex Dez Bryant To Sign With Ravens

➡️ Washington Pass-Rush Talk; Aldon Smith Injury Update

➡️ Jaylon Smith on Cowboys, Cryo & 'The Vote'

➡️ NFC East Champ: How Many Wins Do Cowboys Need?

➡️ Gross: Cowboys In SI NFL Power Rankings

7) Cowboys Blitzcast: The 'What-If's On Dak

Are there "what-if's'' when it comes to Dak Prescott's future with the Dallas Cowboys? And if there are any questions ... should it impact NFL Draft Watch 2021 here at The Star in Frisco?

Welcome to the ‘The Blitzcast – A Dallas Cowboys Podcast’ by Drunk Sports in partnership with CowboysSI.com. “BigRed” Lance Dorsett, Timm “IndyCarTim” Hamm, and Colby Sapp are your hosts as they discuss all things Dallas Cowboys and all things NFL.

On this week's episode — without trying to be alarmists — we discuss the "clown show'' seen in Arlington on Monday night as it unfolded on national television, and what really cost the Cowboys a win that evening.

Listen to more of the Blitzcast by clicking here.

8) Whitt's End: The Emmitt Solution To The Zeke Problem

From our Richie Whitt:

Emmitt Smith learned the hard way. Here’s hoping Ezekiel Elliott has done the same.

In November 1991, Smith was on his way to the NFL rushing title and leading the upstart Dallas Cowboys to the initial playoff berth that would ignite their dynasty. But in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in the Astrodome, Smith fumbled a win into a loss against the Houston Oilers.

In overtime, Smith ran for seven yards to the Oilers’ 18, more than comfortable for a game-winning field goal by Ken Willis. But he wanted more. Got greedy. He left his feet, trying to squeeze between two defenders. In doing so, he compromised his trademark ball security – turning his secure cradle into a flailing elbow – and was stripped by safety Bubba McDowell.

The Oilers recovered and drove for a field goal and a 26-23 win.

In Week 10, it was Emmitt’s first lost fumble of the season. In a Hall-of-Fame career in which he rushed for a seemingly unbreakable 18,355 yards, there wouldn’t be many more.

I remember talking to Emmitt in the post-game locker room. I never saw him more dejected.

“I take pride in not losing the ball,” he said. “Maybe I was trying too hard. It won’t happen again.”

Read Whitt’s End by clicking here.

9) Tweet Of The Week

Are you like me? You wanna ask Bob if he can still play?

10 ) Quotable

“We have a proven Super Bowl coach. ... It’s time to go to work and get better by the day.” - Jerry Jones.