FRISCO - There will undoubtedly be an old-fashioned faction in Cowboys Nation that wonders why, with Dallas coming of a 6-10 season and in theory needing all the on-field work it can get, coach Mike McCarthy would abruptly cancel the Thursday finale of the scheduled three-day minicamp here inside The Star.
The two answers:
One, there is nothing “abrupt” about this; it was privately planned all along.
Two, what has been learned by many coaches like McCarthy - himself a “traditional” thinker in many ways - is that there is value in off-days, “reward days” and time spend together, as a team, in “bonding exercises.”
Dallas is now added to the list of NFL teams opting to wrap up their offseason work ahead of schedule and to give vets time off before the late-July start of training camp.
Thursday minicamp practice is therefore being replaced by what the Cowboys are officially calling “a group dynamic event.”
Does that mean everybody goes bowling? Heads out to Lake Lewisville for a swim? Plays “Jeopardy,” as McCarthy enjoys having his teams do?
The “what” doesn’t matter as much as the “why.” A “team-building activity” replaces working on the field. … but it’s still working toward not being 6-10 anymore.
The San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans are among the other teams that have also altered their schedules. Some of that is in response to conversations with players about their off-season workload. The COVID issue is surely in play as well.
But most of all, just as when McCarthy predecessor Jason Garrett used to annually cancel the final training camp practice in Oxnard for a “surprise” team trip to the beach (that was actually never a surprise), the Cowboys are trying to build something mentally as well as physically.
By the way: The final on-field camp act in Oxnard used to be a “kicking completion.” Make a big kick, get to go to the beach. (of course the buses were already in the parking lot with the engines running; somehow, somebody was going to make a kick.)
On Wednesday in the final on-field act, center Tyler Biadasz was charged with making a field goal.
He failed, changing nothing in McCarthy‘s plan; The figurative buses were already running.
There will be a “rookie school” in Frisco next week, but otherwise, veterans will be off until training camp after Thursday’s activity. … with the Cowboys’ organizational hope that they show up in Oxnard ready in every way.