FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has in just under two seasons experienced some valleys on the way to this NFC East championship peak.
Most observers were sold. Including McCarthy’s boss. … until, that is, the first-round playoff loss, after which said boss Jerry Jones announced he had “a lot to think about” regarding McCarthy’s job security.
Either the owner's thought process was relatively swift or it never reach serious depths, because a source close to the situation Thursday night casually confirmed that McCarthy would indeed return to coach the Cowboys in 2022.
Said the source, "We never knew anything different."
Jones’ endorsement of the veteran coach coming on the heels of a 12-5 regular season was an easy one to make. It became more difficult after the Wild Card loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and at least in terms of perception, more difficult still when this week coach Sean Payton engineered his “retirement” from the New Orleans Saints.
Now, however, the Cowboys' first - most important - decision of the offseason is made. Or maybe it was never in doubt in the first place.
Even with dissatisfaction over the loss to the Niners to start, and end Dallas in the playoffs, an endorsement of Jones’ hiring of the former Green Bay Packers coach in the 2020 offseason following the dismissal of Jason Garrett is about McCarthy’s body of work. The Cowboys were just 6-10 last year, and the blame for that goes largely onto the head coach’s shoulders. (Though QB Dak Prescott’s season-ending Injury in Week 5 was the pivot point.)
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Using the same logic, though, credit for this year’s turnaround must also go to the coach, who established himself as a Super Bowl-caliber boss in Green Bay - and has assembled a fine staff keyed by defensive boss Dan Quinn and offensive boss Kellen Moore (who, like Quinn, may end up without a top job elsewhere and therefore staying as well).
The Cowboys locked up home-field advantage for that one playoff game, but McCarthy recognized that as “the starting line.”
“This is a season that has an excellent potential to be that special year,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to stay truly in the moment …We view this as the starting line. This is not the goal. This isn’t the ending game. The real football starts now.”
And “the real Football” is going to require “real difference-makers.”
Jones thought the Cowboys had just that in their head coach just two weeks ago. And now, along with some consternation and some Payton rumors that need to fade for the benefit of McCarthy’s Cowboys, Jones apparently still thinks it.
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