One of the biggest flaws of the Cowboys 2020-2021 season was the coaching job and leadership of Mike McCarthy.
Whether it was the inability to adjust at halftime, refusing to throw challenge flags in obvious situations, or untimely and questionable timeouts, McCarthy’s first season in Dallas was disappointing.
After posting an embarrassing 6-10 record in one of the NFL’s weakest divisions, the worst the Cowboys have done in five years, McCarthy must find a way to turn things around, or his job security will be in serious doubt.
Dan Quinn and the Return of Dak Prescott
It may seem rash to already put McCarthy under so much pressure considering what occurred during the season. The defense proved itself to be less than capable of holding its own along with injuries, and Dak Prescott was out for the majority of the season.
Things are changing now, however, and McCarthy’s recent reputation will precede him. The Cowboys are bringing in Dan Quinn as their new defensive coordinator, who was at the helm of the “Legion Of Boom” in Seattle, one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
While Dan Quinn is not going to be able to solve all of Dallas’ defensive woes, there is a definite expectation for improvement from both him and McCarthy. They cannot be the Dallas Cowboys defense of the past two years.
The Cowboys are also getting Dak Prescott back who is approaching full health according to Mike McCarthy himself as of late May.
“There’s a plan in place that is coordinated with [trainers Britt Brown and Jim Maurer] in the training room,” McCarthy said. “But I know he feels really good. He’s had some excellent workouts here in the past couple weeks.”
With two of the biggest drawbacks of the team now seemingly improving, there is not much of a safety blanket for McCarthy to fall back on. The Cowboys roster is still loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball and now getting its leader back.
From a football perspective and simply winning games, there is no excuse for Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys to not improve and win the NFC East, at the bare minimum.
McCarthy’s Reputation and Cowboys Locker Room Problems
On top of everything seemingly improving for Dallas, McCarthy’s outing as a head coach in recent years, mostly regarding his closing years in Green Bay, does not play well into his favor or future.
He went a combined 11-16 his final two seasons before getting fired as the Packers head coach in week 13 and followed it up with a horrendous debut year in Dallas who were favorites to win the NFC East.
In addition to not being able to win games with a very talented Packers roster, part of the reason McCarthy also lost his job was due to the fact that he and Aaron Rodgers had a building turmoil over their years together.
It is no secret that the Cowboys had serious locker room problems this year, with players bursting out in rage at each other and coaches after losses, talks of dissonance, and general unhappiness as reported by NFL Network’s Jenn Slater.
“Cowboys players initially bought into keeping things internal. Now as they sit 2-4 the discontent is leaking out,” Slater tweeted after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6.
#Cowboys players initially bought into keeping things internal. Now as they sit 2-4 the discontent is leaking out. On the coaching staff “totally unprepared. They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.” Another “they just aren’t good at their jobs”
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) October 20, 2020
A team that is struggling to win on the field cannot also be fighting amongst themselves off the field and expect to have any type of improvement. It is simply a formula for disaster, and it must be addressed.
McCarthy, who has denied the allegations of anger in the locker room said, “Well, I mean, first off, I haven’t heard any of those type of discussions.” as per Pro Football Talk. “I think like a lot of things when you hit a part of your season, or any challenge where there is negativity out there and where it comes from and who it comes from, that’s something that I’ve never chased.”
Whether the allegations hold true or not, McCarthy has failed to make this unit work together both on and off the field. He must create a new culture around the franchise and have the locker room stand united rather than divided and circling with rumors.
The Bottom Line for McCarthy
At this point, improvement is an absolute must. A repeat of the 2020 season or worse would surely mean McCarthy is on his way out of Dallas. The Cowboys’ window is closing, and it is closing very fast. The time to compete not just for the playoffs, but a Superbowl as well is now.
What may be of some comfort to know for Cowboys supporters is that McCarthy went 6-10 his first year as the head coach of the Packers. The following year they improved to 11-5 and went on to win the Superbowl in the 2010-2011 season with Aaron Rodgers being named league MVP.
McCarthy in all honesty may just need some time to get the franchise going in the right direction, but he unfortunately, does not have much of it. The Cowboys must find an identity under McCarthy, and quickly.
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