‘We crossed the finish line’: McCarthy explains ending Cowboys minicamp early

McCarthy puts the next 5 weeks of training camp prep in the hands of his players, trusting that they’ll get themselves ready for Oxnard. | From @ToddBrock24f7

No one would argue that the Cowboys are ready to line up for their Week 1 date with Tampa Bay just yet. They were never going to be, not in mid-June.

But the team got far enough along in their preliminary work that the coaching staff saw fit to scrap the rest of mandatory minicamp after just one actual practice. Wednesday’s session was canceled in lieu of a team-building fun event at a nearby Topgolf, and Thursday’s practice was nixed shortly thereafter.

“I think the biggest thing is you have a starting line and a finish line,” McCarthy said in explaining the early dismissal, “and I just felt like we crossed the finish line, particularly with the veterans.”

That starting line McCarthy speaks of was crossed weeks ago. The Cowboys saw almost full participation from players during the voluntary portion of the offseason, which allowed coaches to get through seven of the eight scheduled “installs” before the team’s first mandatory session even began on Tuesday.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our young players,” McCarthy said, “but just to compliment the coaching staff, that’s really what I echoed in the last staff meeting, I thought they knocked it out of the park. I thought they hit a home run as far as maximizing their time with our players. Veterans, we had excellent participation in Phase 1 and, really, the captain workouts, Phase One, and all the way through, so we were able to go through all the concepts with the vets, and then the vets also got all eight installs. I think we clearly crossed the finish line of what we were trying to get done this year.”

So it came down to one final weightlifting workout for the rookies on Thursday morning, and a last media briefing from head coach Mike McCarthy, and a five-week break was suddenly underway.

“Everything we wanted to accomplish in the offseason was completed, and really, the focus turns [now] to their individual five-week plan.”

McCarthy is confident that his players will still be studying, working, and improving over that time off.

“From the first day,” the coach elaborated, “we have a timeline in what we want to get done in the offseason program, and this next segment is five weeks of their individual plan. I mean, most guys are staying here. We’re very fortunate to have an incredible training facility and the love of the city of Dallas, so just more people will be here in town than I think I can recall in my time in this league over the last three decades.”

So while there will certainly be lounging on Instagram-worthy beaches and living it up in exotic locales, there will also be just as many private workouts at The Star and impromptu playbook study with groups of teammates.

“We feel really good about every guy’s individual plan,” McCarthy went on, knowing that his players will largely be responsible for keeping themselves sharp over the break.

I think you’ve got to really commend today’s athlete. There’s a lot of interaction that goes on, whether it’s Dak with the receivers at his house and the perimeter group, guys will still be working out here all the time. I do think there’s structure to it. It’s obviously not all us here together.”

That time will come soon enough, at the Cowboys’ training camp home away from home, Oxnard, California. McCarthy plans to throw a lot at his team during their West Coast stay, including joint practices with both the Broncos and Chargers before preseason games with each club. That’s when the pressure will be more appropriately turned up.

“Obviously, our time limits are in place a far as the CBA rules, but Oxnard gives you that opportunity,” said the 58-year-old coach. “I think going up to Denver and spending an extra couple of days up there practicing in the Mile High climate will be another nice factor, and then the competitive work down there in Irvine will be another opportunity. So I feel good about our plan, looking forward to that.”

Maybe it’s the impending vacation talking. But McCarthy admits he feels good about a lot more than just the team’s California itinerary.

Given that his first offseason in 2020 was all but completely wiped out and relegated to Zoom meetings, and 2021’s was spent still dealing with COVID protocols and a rehabbing quarterback, this offseason has the veteran coach feeling more optimistic heading into the break than he has since arriving in Dallas.

“It’s the best I’ve felt about a football team going into the preparation, clearly.”

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Micah Parsons edge snaps won’t increase if DE health holds, McCarthy has his way

The Cowboys head coach shut down the idea of limiting Parsons to one spot and the All-Pro rookie’s Swiss-army knife role is staying. | From @CDBurnett7

In the current NFL landscape, pass rushers are at a premium. The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams had Aaron Donald and Von Miller for starters. Double-digit sack players are a coveted asset for any team that’s looking to make the jump into playoff contention.

After the Dallas Cowboys botched the Randy Gregory re-signing, a hole opened at the defensive end spot. Micah Parsons, who can play about anywhere on defense, popped out as the immediate bandage for Dallas in the moment. Head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t eliminating Parsons from the rotation, but if health at the DE spot holds up in 2022, he hopes to use Parsons as a swiss-army knife without dedicating him to the DL like the club had to several times in 2021.

As a rookie, Parsons finished with 13 sacks and 30 QB hits, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Pro honors. The caveat is limiting Parsons to only rushing the passer when his talents far exceed such a small box. Few would argue Parsons can’t be a 20-sack player but Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to chain down the lion.

“”The people that say, ‘Hey, why don’t you play him at defensive end?’ very fair. That’s a very fair question,” said McCarthy. “But we’ve made it clear: We want him moving around.”

It’s a good problem to have when deciding where to play such a talent like Parsons but it also reflects an issue the Cowboys have. The linebacker position needs some reinforcement, they’ve failed to address it. They needed to keep Gregory in town, they failed.

Dallas is forced to make Parsons clean up the mess now instead of adding to the firepower. With that said, the Cowboys can still move the Penn State product around and McCarthy referenced his sacks from the linebacker spot.

“It would be very easy to just line him up at end and play him there every down, but the fact of the matter is he had, what, 13 sacks. Seven came from the linebacker position, six from the defensive end position,” McCarthy said.

According to Pro Football Focus, of Parsons’ 961 snaps played on defense in 2021, 390 of them came as a defensive lineman. 540 of them came as a box defender with the rest as a coverage player. It sounds like McCarthy and company would like an even wider gulf considering 204 of Parsons’ snaps as a DL occurred in just four weeks when Dallas was thin as the DE position.

As the NFL game has changed, players like Parsons can revamp a defense like we saw in 2021. It’s not to say everyone else didn’t have an impact but Parsons’ impact is endless.

Ideally, Dallas adds some reinforcements in the front seven and Dan Quinn gets to have his playground with Parsons if all goes to plan.

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Report: Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy to skip league meetings, to spend time scouting instead

The Cowboys coach is said to have travel plans for several college pro days as the NFL’s GMs and coaches meet in Palm Beach, Florida. | From @ToddBrock24f7

The NFL’s annual league meetings, being held in person in Palm Beach, Florida this year after a virtual format the past two years, are always a well-attended event, with GMs and coaches from all 32 clubs sitting down to talk through issues and rules. And it’s traditionally been a chance for the media to get some up-close-and-personal time with the various team leaders.

This year, though, there will be at least one conspicuous absence.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy will not attend the league meetings this year. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News cited sources in a tweet Sunday morning.

Instead, McCarthy will spend the next several days on the college prospect trail, with plans to attend several unnamed schools’ pro days.

As pointed out, it is unusual for a head coach to not attend the meetings. But it perhaps less odd when one considers the offseason the Cowboys as an organization- and McCarthy himself- has had thus far. McCarthy certainly knows that the first question out of any reporter’s mouth will likely include one or all of the following phrases: job security, hot seat, prove-it year, Sean Payton.

McCarthy was asked about the then-fresh rumors at the NFL scouting combine several weeks ago. At the time, he called it “a narrative I don’t want to be a part of.”

Immersing himself in scouting trips all but ensures he won’t have to.

That’s the obvious knee-jerk reaction, anyway. And maybe there’s a hint of truth to it.

But given the holes on the current Dallas roster, McCarthy’s time is arguably better spent looking for new personnel to fill those holes. The Cowboys have re-signed several solid role players in free agency, but have also watched a handful of big names- Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, Randy Gregory, and Cedrick Wilson- walk out the door. And they’ve made no headline-grabbing signings (apologies to Dante Fowler and James Washington) in an offseason that’s provided nearly one a day.

In a still-flat NFC East and across-the-board weaker NFC than years past, the Cowboys likely sense that opportunity is real in 2022. This year’s draft haul simply must produce some bona fide playmakers to help push them over the hump and into a deep playoff run as they chase their sixth Super Bowl title before the window closes on stars like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and DeMarcus Lawrence.

“The lifeline is the draft,” the coach said last week during a stretch of several pro days including Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Penn State.

“I want to see as many prospects as I can. This is the most involved I’ve been with the draft, McCarthy explained. “It’s awesome.”

The next rookie phenom won’t be found in a committee discussion about overtime rules at The Breakers in Palm Beach this week. But he just might be discovered at the next pro day McCarthy attends.

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McCarthy cites fixing Cowboys penalties as main focus for 2022, but bad luck contributed in ’21

The Cowboys coach doesn’t want to lead the NFL again in penalties, but the record shows they were cursed by flag-happy refs often in 2021. | From @ToddBrock24f7

There’s plenty to fix in Dallas, to be sure. As with any team that’s sent home from the postseason earlier than anticipated, the list of things that the Cowboys hope to improve for 2022 is considerable. But when head coach Mike McCarthy starts ordering that list in terms of priority, there’s room for just one item to be the top concern.

Penalties were the first area of focus mentioned by McCarthy as he spoke to the media Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. The Cowboys led the league last year (playoffs included) in flags thrown on them (168) and penalties actually assessed against them (141).

Those numbers speak to a lot of sloppy technique, mental errors, and discipline issues. McCarthy may not be the one called out by number when the referee keys his mic on Sundays, but make no mistake: penalties are a coaching problem.

But in the Cowboys’ case, it turns out bad luck played a significant role, too.

For starters, McCarthy acknowledges that while giving up 1,192 penalty yards over 18 games- an average of 66.22 yards per outing- must be corrected, he doesn’t feel the need for a wholesale change in philosophy, just the time spent on playing clean football.

“I believe in the format that we use, how we emphasize it, how we teach it,” the coach said. “Penalty prevention, the individual focus and the techniques part of it… that will be heightened.”

The challenge is that, thanks to CBA rules that determine a fixed amount of instructional time, hours spent dedicated to penalty prevention takes away from time spent practicing some other aspect of the game.

“I’m not making [an] excuse; your time with your team is less than it’s ever been in, I know, my time as a head coach. So where are you going to spend that time?” McCarthy asked rhetorically. “We will talk and emphasize penalties more than we have in the past.”

Of course, there is also a risk in overcoaching penalties, in fine-tuning players’ techniques so much that power, strength, and aggression start to suffer for the sake of not wanting to draw a flag.

McCarthy certainly doesn’t want that, either.

“Sometimes there’s a risk of being higher penalties when you want to be more combative, get your play style consistent for your whole team. I think that’s a process where [when] we’ve come out of year one and into year two was an emphasis for us because of our play style wasn’t consistently at the fever pitch that we wanted it throughout our team. And with that comes more combative penalties. History will tell you that; that’s been my experience as a head coach. Those are some things that are accepted part of doing business,” McCarthy explained, “but the pre-snap and the discipline penalties we have to be much better at. We did not, by no means, did we hit the target there. I’ve got to coach it better, we’ve got to emphasize it better. It will definitely be a heightened point.”

But as Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News pointed out this week, some of the Cowboys’ penalty woes in 2021 can be attributed to luck of the draw. Bad luck, that is.

Officiating crews led by Shawn Hochuli, Scott Novak, and Alex Kemp all finished within the top three in the NFL last season for flags thrown per game.

Hochuli called two Cowboys games in 2021: the season-opening loss where he flagged Dallas eight times (to Tampa Bay’s 11) and the Thanksgiving laundryfest where he dinged Dallas and Las Vegas 14 times apiece, another Cowboys loss.

Novak worked two Cowboys games as well: Week 8’s win (11 Cowboys penalties to Minnesota’s seven) and Week 17’s loss (10 Cowboys flags to Arizona’s seven).

Kemp handled Week 14’s win, where Dallas and Washington were both hit with seven infractions. But he also helmed the mixed officiating crew for the Cowboys’ wild-card loss, flagging Dallas 14 times to San Francisco’s nine.

That’s one-third of the team’s 18 games with a notoriously flag-happy ref running the show, six games producing nearly one-half of the Cowboys’ assessed penalty calls for the entire year.

Compare that to Bill Vinovich. His crew called the fewest penalties in the league for the fourth time in five years. In his two 2021 run-ins with Dallas, he flagged the Cowboys just five times in Week 9 and a season-low three times in Week 16.

Cowboys players and coaches were quick to lay at least some of the blame for their losses to the Raiders, Cardinals, and 49ers on officials. It’s not that any refs have a legitimate bias against Dallas per se, but the team- unluckily, perhaps- did see more than their fair share of officials who have shown a blanket penchant for penalties.

Were Cowboys players guilty of that many more transgressions than everyone else? In part, yes. Left guard Connor Williams led the entire NFL in holding calls, with 11. That’s an issue that may resolve itself, with the otherwise highly-rated Williams about to hit free agency.

But McCarthy and his staff can (and need to) do more to make sure all the Cowboys players give those officiating crews- whoever they happen to draw on any given Sunday- less reason to throw flags in the first place.

To hear McCarthy tell it, that’s Job One this offseason.

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Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy addresses Sean Payton speculation: ‘It’s a narrative I don’t want to be a part of’

McCarthy claims he and Jerry Jones ‘laughed about’ rumors regarding the Saints ex-coach coming to Dallas, but says he’s focused on winning. | From @ToddBrock24f7

The questions will come, and they’ll keep coming. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy knows this. And in his first time talking with a room full of reporters since the end of his team’s season, it took just a matter of minutes for someone to bring up Sean Payton.

McCarthy did his best to put an end to the rumors and speculation that the former Saints coach and onetime Dallas assistant is in some kind of standby mode, just waiting for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to relieve McCarthy of his duties and and install Payton as the tenth head coach in franchise history.

“I’ll just say this about the narrative,” McCarthy said from the scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. “It’s a narrative I don’t want to be a part of. I don’t think anybody would want to be a part of it, on either side of the fence. In fairness to Sean, he’s being asked the questions, but nothing good comes out of that. But I think you do need to understand that I get to spend a lot of time with Jerry, both as the owner and as the GM, and our conversations- as we talk about the partnership between a head coach and the GM- those are conversations him and I have: the strength of the partnership, what’s in front of us, short-term plan, long-term plan, obviously, we’ve got some big decisions here to make with our roster, all those things. He addressed it, we laughed about it, I moved on.”

Jerry and Stephen Jones have both stated their confidence in McCarthy, despite some early ambiguity from Jerry that seemed to paint a whole lot of gray area over the head coaching situation.

Stephen was asked about McCarthy’s status Monday as the 2022 combine got underway.

“Unfortunately, when you’re a coach or a quarterback or a player for the Cowboys, you’re going to get a lot of attention, and it’s not all going to be positive,” the team’s chief operating officer said. “I mean, Jerry and I know that better than anybody. You’re going to have people who are going to be your critics, people who are going to step up and have question marks. But we feel good about Mike.”

Jones continued by casting the 2021 season, seen as a disappointment by most everyone both inside and outside the organization, in a more positive light. “What did we go, 12-5? Most people consider that a success. That’s not around here, because we want to win a championship. I think his track record speaks for itself. He’s won a Super Bowl. He’s been to championship games. I love the way his leadership style is. He’s got a great pulse for our football team, and [I] just feel like he’s the right guy for us.”

After improving from 6-10 in his first season to 12-5 in the follow-up campaign, McCarthy echoed that sentiment Tuesday by pledging to focus on what’s important to him moving forward, instead of indulging rumors about his job security or coaching like he’s a lame duck.

“I don’t see it as any type of topic or anything that gets in the way of winning,” McCarthy said.

But that doesn’t mean the specter of Sean Payton won’t be resurrected at every bump in the Cowboys’ upcoming road.

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Cowboys’ offensive breakdown: Run-game plus/minus, red-zone shares, personnel tendencies

Who helped the most blocking? Who sabotaged the run game? Who soaked up red-zone targets and who disappointed? @ProfessorO_NFL takes a look at the Cowboys performance on offense in 2021.

The 2022 NFL season will officially begin its league year on March 16 at 3:00pm CT. At that time, any player on an expiring contract will officially become a free agent and hit the open market.  When it comes to the offense, the Dallas Cowboys will need to make a decision on whether to re-sign Dalton Schultz and Connor Williams or not. Those two decisions could have ripple effects on the team determines how the makeup of the starting line will look for 2022.

Those decisions need to be predicated on performance beyond the eye test, and the proof is in the pudding. This analysis will review run-game plus/minus, personnel grouping success rate, red zone targets, and other important stats to evaluate which parts of what information head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore need to focus on as they enter a critical 2022 season.

McCarthy opens up about job security, spotlight on coaching Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys head coach appeared on the Rich Eisen Show, detailing the show side of Dallas and the rumors around his job security. | From @CDBurnett7

While the on-field product might not always be perfect, the Dallas Cowboys are always a show off the field and now there’s another chapter in the Mike McCarthy coaching chronicles.

Appearing on the Rich Eisen Show, McCarthy fielded questions about his job security and everything being the head coach of the Cowboys entails. Eisen minced no words in the interview, bringing up the potential of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn taking over as head coach in the future, something owner Jerry Jones spoke of publicly.

Quinn, the 2021 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, reached out to McCarthy during his interviews for head coaching positions after the 2021 season, asking if he should take one of the jobs to alleviate all the drama.

“We talked about him staying long before he ever took the interview. Now, obviously, when he took this interview and the narrative broke out in reflection to the narrative that Dan and I do have. He said ‘Hey man, I’m not comfortable with this narrative. If you really feel like I need to take one of these jobs, just be honest with me.’ We kind of laughed about it.”

The bitter end to the 2021 season created reasonable discussion about the Cowboys coaching staff but Quinn was the one name that kept a positive reputation through the struggles. Turning a historically bad defense into a highlight reel unit earned him head coaching conversations and keeping him in Dallas is critical for success in 2022.

“The reality is I’m about winning, he’s about winning and the best thing for the Cowboys is for Dan Quinn to be here,” McCarthy said, brightening the tone in the interview.

Quinn isn’t the only name that’s been bandied about as a McCarthy replacement. Eisen brought up the constant Sean Payton rumors and how the 2022 season will likely decide the future for McCarthy as the coach in Dallas. While Jones run the show and everything is up to him to a degree, McCarthy opened up about the spotlight on the Cowboys and how it’s more than just football.

“The way things are done here, there’s a bigger picture focus. I always just frankly keep it about winning and I’ve always just kind of taken a blind eye or blind ear to those things but that’s not the case when you work here.”

Whether it be Quinn, Payton or maybe even Kellen Moore, the head coach chatter never stops in Dallas and that appears to be something McCarthy might still be getting a grasp of. One can’t solely focusing on winning as a Cowboy, they also have to manage the spotlight created and continually fueled by Jones’ desire to be in the media’s eye. The caveat is that the winning is what makes all of the side conversation go away and is ultimately what McCarthy’s fate as the Dallas head coach will depend on.

No one every said it was easy coaching the Cowboys and McCarthy’s comments speak to the culture that has been created with the Joneses and how winning only matters so much in Dallas.

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Kellen Moore may get playcalling help, according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Jones says the Cowboys will lean on Mike McCarthy’s experience in ’22, even if it means influencing a Kellen Moore offense. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Jerry Jones has done it before. He did it once already this week. And he’s convinced he’ll be able to do it again.

After convincing defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to remain in place on the Cowboys coaching staff, even though he believes Quinn had a head coaching job from another club on the table, the 79-year-old owner thinks he’ll have offensive coordinator Kellen Moore back, too.

Like Quinn, Moore has been a popular candidate on the interview circuit. The former backup quarterback has apparently landed a second interview with the Miami Dolphins for their head coaching position. But in a radio interview with Dallas station 105.3 The Fan on Friday, Jones told the K&C Masterpiece show he has a good feeling about Moore’s return to Dallas.

The hosts asked Jones a three-part question: Does he tend to get a sense of how things go when a staffer interviews with another club? Does the other team contact the Cowboys to offer information? And does Jones think his offensive coordinator will be back in Dallas in 2022?

Jones gave a very blunt answer that also came in three parts:

“I get a sense. They do not reach out. And I believe he’ll be back next year.”

Moore commandeered the 2021 Cowboys to a No. 1 leaguewide ranking in yards per game and points per game. But the overall production tapered off dramatically after the Week 7 bye, concluding with a rather limp effort in the wild card round of the playoffs versus San Francisco.

As the numbers dropped, public opinion of Moore soured. In the minds of many among the fickle Cowboys fanbase, he went from a creative playcalling mastermind who could replace head coach Mike McCarthy immediately to a predictable Jason Garrett/Scott Linehan disciple who should be run out of town at the earliest opportunity.

So far, Moore has interviewed with Jacksonville, Denver, Minnesota, and Miami for their head coach opening.

Jones reiterated that he wants to keep Moore in the building in Dallas. But he wasn’t opposed to saying that he might be in need of some occasional mentoring from the offensively-minded McCarthy.

The head coach kept Moore on staff when he was hired in 2020, making it plain that he would leave the offense in his young coordinator’s hands.

On Friday, Jones intimated that McCarthy exercising a bit more of his personal influence when it comes to the offensive scheme isn’t out of the question moving forward.

“No question,” Jones said, “that we’re going to attempt- hard- and use everything that Mike has got in his background experience to help us on every part of this football team.”

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Jerry Jones says lack of vocal McCarthy support was about Dan Quinn, not Sean Payton

Jones says he talked Quinn out of taking a head coaching job elsewhere, and his ambiguity on Mike McCarthy was part of the process. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to clear the air after a week of wild speculation about the future of head coach Mike McCarthy, the seemingly imminent loss- and then sudden re-signing- of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and the surprise stepping down from the Saints organization of former Cowboys assistant and longtime personal friend Sean Payton.

A week after his final regularly-scheduled appearance of the season on Cowboys flagship radio station 105.3 The Fan, Jones reportedly requested to call in one more time to publicly get a few things off this chest.

Some of it didn’t make much sense.

Jones talked about retaining Quinn, even acknowledging that McCarthy helped in the effort. But he also bizarrely offered Quinn’s whirlwind tour on the coaching-interview circuit as the reason for his own prolonged silence- and subtle digs- about McCarthy’s own future with the club, even as the Cowboys fanbase and TV pundits openly called for McCarthy’s removal as the team’s smartest option.

“The idea of Mike twisting in the wind just wasn’t the case at all,” Jones told the K&C Masterpiece show on Friday. “We’re sitting there trying to keep Dan Quinn and trying to maintain continuity on our coaching staff.”

Quinn was rumored to be the front-runner for the head coaching role in Denver and Chicago, and had second meetings with both clubs. Within the space of a few hours Thursday, the Broncos and Bears announced other hires, and Quinn had committed to staying in Dallas.

To hear Jones tell it, Quinn actually got an offer to return to the head coaching ranks, only to be talked out of accepting by Jones himself.

“I believe that very much,” Jones confirmed.

And according to Jones, McCarthy himself helped with the sales pitch.

“Mike did everything that he could do to help us get and keep and extend Dan Quinn,” Jones said. “There’s no question it was a competitive situation.”

In fact, the market for Quinn was so hot, Jones would have fans believe, that he couldn’t even risk openly promising that McCarthy’s own job in Dallas was safe.

“I couldn’t really get out and speak to it publicly because I didn’t want to push teams toward him. I wanted to keep him for ourselves.”

It’s a strange leap of logic that Jones is asking his audience to make. But somehow Jones seems to imply that staying mum on McCarthy and letting the rumor mill crank at red-line RPMs was the best tack for keeping Quinn in the building in a subordinate role.

“An announcement wasn’t necessary,” Jones said of his silence on McCarthy. “Man, we’re in a competitive situation for key personnel, key coaches here. I didn’t want to be over here pushing and talking about how good they were or how good they weren’t, where we are. All that’s read like a fine-tooth comb with your competition, over teams trying to get your staff.”

That part has happened before. Jones shared that, during his ownership, he’s been able to similarly convince a couple of other high-profile Cowboys coordinators to stay in the fold in a lesser job.

“I’ve had two other occasions in my career where a coach- coordinator- was offered a head coaching job and I got them not to accept it,” Jones said. “One was with Sean Payton; he was offered the job at the Raiders when Parcells was the head coach. I asked him to not take it and stay coordinating and see what happens with the future here with the Cowboys. And then I asked Jason Garrett to do the same thing; he passed on a head coaching job as well, to stay here and be a part of the future of the Cowboys.”

Payton went on to coach New Orleans; Garrett became the head man in Dallas.

Quinn remains DC… for now. Jones isn’t ready to talk about what may be down the road for the 51-year-old, instead suggesting that this is a long-term extension.

“He is staying and being our coordinator for years to come.”

But whispers about how Jones should fire McCarthy and install Quinn as the Cowboys head coach were getting rather loud as recently as this past week.

Jones was admittedly frustrated following the team’s wild-card loss to San Francisco, and the owner declined to discuss his head coach’s status in the immediate wake of the 23-17 defeat. Jerry’s son Stephen said the next day he felt “confident” that McCarthy would remain in place, but no more was spoken about it until last Friday’s radio call-in, when Jerry offered cryptically, “I’ve got a lot to think about regarding these coaches.”

This Friday, he attempted to clarify his remarks.

“What I said on the show, and I’ve said it several times,” Jones said, “is that I’ve got everybody under contract that I want under contract. It’s just a question of whether, under the rules, they’re going to be able to get out of the contract. And so we went out and did something about and reinforced at the most critical level with Dan. It was never an issue with me, with Mike being the head coach. You never heard that from me.”

But by not explicitly stating that McCarthy was his man, Jones has to know he was leaving loads of room for doubt.

“I was sitting there being coy… it was taken as though I were somehow wishy-washy. Unh-unh.”

Some listeners even suggested that Jones was playing the part of the angered team owner in his season-ending phoner, merely placating a disappointed fanbase by ranting and raving and hinting at changes that he had no intention of making.

This time, Jones was asked point-blank to respond to those allegations.

“I really don’t know how to respond to faking to be angry. I’ve been told that I’m easy to read. I wear it out on the cuff,” Jones said. “I am frustrated. I’m still frustrated. If the wound is open, I want to rub salt in it. I want it to hurt. I’m being dramatic here, but this hurt. And I want to do everything we can to remind us continually how bad it hurt to have to go home two weekends ago. This hurt. We had a good football team… I know this: it sure helped me make the decisions I made yesterday to keep Dan Quinn.”

Stroking the check to Quinn is a brilliant move that keeps his considerable defensive talents in Dallas. Leaving McCarthy and Cowboys fans to twist in the wind for ten days- because that’s exactly what Jones did with regard to his head coach- is a completely separate issue. Trying to convince the world the two things were all part of the same master plan is just insulting.

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Sean Payton steps down as Saints HC, what this means for Cowboys

“The one that got away” for owner Jerry Jones is now kind of sort of off the hook. Right when the Jones is frowning his face at his current fish’s aroma. | From @CdBurnett7

Since the disappointing end of the 2021 season for the Dallas Cowboys, questions around the coaching staff have been prevalent. Team owner Jerry Jones is weighing the options even after a 12-5 season, and it has led to speculation around head coach Mike McCarthy’s job security, despite Jones’ son and executive VP Stephen publicly supporting him.

As has been the case every time there’s any rumbling of a coaching opening in Dallas, Sean Payton surfaces. After 16 years, Payton is stepping away from New Orleans, leading to an avalanche of speculation.

Payton was the assistant head coach for Dallas from 2003-2005 before becoming head coach of the New Orleans Saints. Since then, Payton won Super Bowl XLIV and totaled 10 winning seasons.

Now that Payton is opening his future, the Cowboys could enter the conversation to acquire the coach.

Following the immediate news, the future is cloudy for Payton during this break from coaching.

What does this mean for Dallas? Right now, McCarthy faces an ultimatum after an underperforming season and the ice might already be cracking under his feet. Multiple teams reached out to the Saints trying to find clarity on the situation and potentially make a move to bring Payton to there respective teams, and one of them could be the Cowboys.

Assuming that Jones is interested considering his past with Payton, the most likely result is letting McCarthy play out 2022 with his job on the line and go from there. Following a 2020 season crushed by quarterback Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury, McCarthy made the playoffs in 2021 and likely creates a “Super Bowl or bust” scenario in the 2022 season to keep his job.

With that said, if Dallas underperforms next season and Jones wants to acquire Payton, it’ll have to be through a trade.

In 2019, Tampa Bay traded a sixth-round pick for Bruce Arians and a seventh-round selection then signed Arians to a four-year contract.

The Cowboys would have to perform something similar to acquire Payton as his contract holds through 2024. Right now, firing McCarthy during the 2022 offseason doesn’t seem likely after the playoff berth but crazier things have happened and Jones is growing impatient with playoff appearances coming up short.

Now begins the year-long judgement of McCarthy with Payton, who lives in Texas, looming large as the heir to the job in 2023.

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