FRISCO - One of the most important things to know about Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy - and in many ways, we are still getting to know the second-year boss - is his policy about saying in public negative things about his players.
He simply will not do it - which makes his remarks from after the 20-14 preseason loss to Houston on Saturday at AT&T Stadium all the more notable.
“I’m sick about the turnovers,'' McCarthy said. "You can’t win that way. You got to take care of the damn football.”
In our media "fireside chat'' at The Star with McCarthy a few days ago, I asked McCarthy about "image'' and "perception being reality'' and whether he feels the need to "perform,'' whether its in front of his team or in front of the cameras.
He noted that as the Green Bay Packers head coach from 2006 to 2018, his personal style was borrowed from his dad, the Pittsburgh cop and bar owner. That meant scoffing at the notion that "perception is reality.''
After a year "between jobs,'' some admitted regrets about not figuring out the truth sooner while in Green Bay, and now in charge of the high-profile Cowboys?
He doesn't scoff anymore.
"Naw,'' he joked, "I’m a dazzling son of a bitch now in these press conferences.”
he’s more aware today, especially in his current position. McCarthy said he used to emulate his father, believing that if he worked hard and did things the right way, everything else would take care of itself. But he now doesn’t think that’s realistic as an NFL head coach, even acknowledging that things would’ve probably ended differently in Green Bay if he had paid more attention to the perception. McCarthy added that he’s trying to be more open withreporters, joking, “I’m a dazzling son of a bitch now in these press conferences.”
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But on Saturday night? He was an angry SOB.
Garrett Gilbert is supposed to be the No. 2 QB here behind Dak Prescott. but on the opening drive, he fumbled while being sacked. Then came No. 3 QB Cooper Rush, who played well enough (10 of 12 passing for two touchdowns) to close the gap between the two.
And then, for the entire second half, came Ben DiNucci, who performed so poorly that he widened the gap between himself an a practice-squad berth. DiNucci, a pet project of McCarthy's, threw three interceptions.
No, McCarthy didn't rip fellow Pittsburgher DiNucci in the postgame. He didn't rip any individual. But he did inch nearer being more frank with the public about what's going on, an honesty that can help him in terms of a "perception'' thing that is important when you're trying to navigate "America's Team'' toward a Super Bowl.
“But I’m still who I am,” McCarthy said in that fireside chat. “Jerry (Jones) didn’t hire me to come down here to increase the marketing of his football team. I would probably dress better. I would choose my verbs better. And I’m capable, just so you know. But yeah, I’m more aware of it. At the end of the day, it’s about winning. And I know how to win. I have confidence in that.''
And "how to win'' ... does not include coughing up four turnovers. That merits a McCarthy cuss word. That merits a salty verb or two. And that's enough to make the Cowboys head coach "sick.''