ARLINGTON - The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a triumphant season in which they finished 12-5, won the NFC East and were preparing for a home playoff game. ... and why were we talking about the possibility of firing the head coach?
“My answer,” writes respected SI colleague Albert Breer in answering a question about Dallas dumping Mike McCarthy, “is … maybe.”
And my answer? "Well, sure, in a 'when-pigs-fly' scenario.
San Francisco 23, Dallas 17 in Sunday's playoff meeting at AT&T Stadium was an error-filled, sloppy, unfocused failure, the last-gasp attempts notwithstanding.
And so why my source close to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the eve of the game told me his truth on the idea that Jerry was secretly planning a firing of coach Mike McCarthy
“That’s completely asinine,” he said of the notion of McCarthy being dumped in the event of a loss. “There’s no way Jerry has spent even a second thinking that.”
But now the loss stares Jones, 78, in the face. And so did the question in the postgame media scrum.
Jerry's answer: “I don’t even want to discuss anything like that at this particular time. ... That’s not on the table. The game speaks for itself.”
So ... what's not on the table?
A media discussion?
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Or McCarthy's termination?
I'll guess that Jerry's word salad, because it's something short of "No problem, Mike's staying,'' is a sign of intense displeasure on the part of the boss.
But factor this in: Some misunderstand him to be “impetuous” - the sort to overreact to a loss by ordering heads to roll. From Jimmy Johnson to Dave Campo to Jason Garrett, there is evidence that the reverse is true; Jones is, as much as anything, a loyalty guy.
“I found my guy,” Jones recently said about McCarthy, who has three years left on his contract, works well with the Jones family and of whom Jerry recently told me, “He’s a Super Bowl coach. He knows how to build it.”
Yes, the Joneses are also enamored of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and if there was a way to persuade him to turn down a head coaching job (in Denver or elsewhere) they would do it; but there really aren’t many ways.
Breer asks, “Would they make (Quinn) the head coach to ensure it?”
My problem there: Isn't Quinn already on the staff that oversaw this error-filled, sloppy, unfocused failure?
There is some wisdom in my business of the “maybe.” As I wrote when this came up: Is there some incredible when-pigs-fly circumstance in which McCarthy is booted from The Star? Is that reason enough for me to CYA with a “maybe”?
The Joneses love Quinn. They also love offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. But again, coordinators graduating to become head coaches is how football works. And the Joneses also love McCarthy.
Or, at least, they did. Before pigs flew.