Cowboys’ McCarthy dismisses Jerry’s QB dilemma: ‘It stops right there’

The coach shot down any notion of a QB controversy, saying that Jerry Jones “was talking about winning” in speaking on Cooper Rush’s play. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy suddenly has a quarterback controversy on his hands, even if it truly exists only as fill-the-gap-between-games sports-talk fodder.

After owner Jerry Jones told reporters Thursday that he wouldn’t mind a tough decision on who to start at quarterback when Dak Prescott is healthy enough to return, the easy knee-jerk headline was that Jerry the GM might bench his $40 million man in favor of Cooper Rush just because he’s shown a hot hand in a short relief role.

As he has had to do several times since taking the Cowboys job, McCarthy has been forced to switch to crisis-management mode, even with a divisional matchup Monday night to prepare for.

The coach attempted to put Jones’s latest attention-grabbing comments in proper perspective Friday morning during his weekly call-in with 105.3 The Fan.

“He was talking about winning,” McCarthy explained. “Obviously, it’s all about winning this time of year. We obviously want Cooper to be a big part of that. I think the second part is something that you guys are probably having some fun with.”

Prescott was unimpressive in the season opener before suffering a fracture in his throwing hand during the fourth quarter of the 19-3 loss. Many observers were quick to pronounce the Cowboys’ season over until Rush stepped in and guided the offense to a walk-off win in Week 2.

Although Rush’s Cinderella story is fun (and perhaps an indication that he’s better than the offseason backup-QB rankings gave him credit for), McCarthy put to bed any notion whatsoever that there might actually be a changing of the guard coming at the position in Dallas.

“Clearly, everybody in our locker room and everybody in the building- Jerry included- Dak is our quarterback, and we want Cooper to be as successful as possible. I think it stops right there.”

It seems obvious enough.

Except with Jones, there’s always Soundbite Jerry to consider.

The whole episode is, of course, reminiscent of 2019, when the spotlight-loving owner made a similar joke about the club’s running back situation. Ezekiel Elliott was holding out in a contract dispute; Tony Pollard got the lion’s share of carries in a preseason game as a rookie. Pollard played well, and basking in the moment, Jones playfully responded to a question about Elliott’s negotiations by asking, “Zeke who?”

The Twittersphere stirred the pot, with reports claiming that Elliott felt disrespected. Jones got defensive over his right to crack a joke. Some were bracing for an ugly standoff between the sides and an honest-to-God controversy.

Within two weeks, the pair were all smiles at a press conference to announce the rusher’s fat new contract. And Elliott was grinning at the new “Zeke Who?” T-shirts that the Cowboys were already selling in the team pro shop.

But it was Jones himself who invoked the name of Tony Romo in his comments this week about Rush. No one expected Prescott to play the way he did as a rookie when Romo went down in the 2016 preseason. Prescott looked like a star from the jump, and Romo never started another game.

The two situations are not the same, however. Romo was 36 years old when he was injured. He was entering his 14th NFL season, and he had a history littered with broken collarbones, fractured ribs, and a string of serious back problems ranging from a ruptured disk to transverse process fractures to the compression fracture that finally hastened his retirement.

Prescott is just 29, in only his seventh year. And while his current thumb fracture follows a calf strain and shoulder strain in 2021 and the ankle dislocation that cost him most of 2020, he’d been practically injury-proof up until that point.

Romo was nearing the end of the road. Prescott has had two years of spotty luck.

And while Jones had a legitimate quarterback controversy on his hands in 2016 once Romo healed, the choice about the team’s future was clear enough that even Romo conceded the starting gig to Prescott.

There is no such talk now in Dallas- not really, and not even if Rush comes out Monday and torches the Giants in primetime.

The players understand the reality of the situation. And McCarthy recognizes Jones’s recent comments for what they are.

“It’s part of the… you know… part of the operation here,” the coach remarked, stopping just shy of actually using the word circus right out loud on the radio.

“At the end of the day, we are focused on winning, and as I read it, or was told about it, Jerry’s immediate comments are about winning.”

Jones is the ultimate fantasy football owner. He had to bench his starting quarterback and roll with a guy off the bench. The sub won him a game; maybe he’ll even do it again. It’s a good problem to have. It’s what every GM hopes for, to discover that his second-stringers can get the job done when needed.

But that doesn’t mean the job is up for grabs.

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17 penalty-game shows continuation of Cowboys’ undisciplined play under McCarthy

Saturday wasn’t an anomaly; the Cowboys have more total penalties over the past 2 years- McCarthy’s tenure- than any other team in the NFL. | From @ToddBrock24f7

After his Cowboys led the league in infractions in 2021, head coach Mike McCarthy promised that the main emphasis of the offseason, the thing that would get worked on most, would be penalties.

But following Saturday night’s preseason opener in Denver, Cowboys fans could be excused for collectively wondering if the coach knows that the goal was actually fewer penalties from now on.

The Cowboys were flagged 17 times against the Broncos, most in the NFL over the weekend’s worth of games.

While it was admittedly a meaningless exhibition contest (and a couple calls were notably questionable), the 129 yards conceded on those flags are emblematic of a bigger problem that just won’t seem to go away in Dallas.

“Penalties, clearly, are way too much,” McCarthy said after Saturday’s 17-7 loss, in which Cowboys gaffes led directly to 10 of Denver’s points. “We’ll look at those and keep going through it as far as combative [penalties] versus discipline [penalties]. That’s clearly the biggest negative.”

It’s been the biggest negative, actually, for McCarthy’s entire tenure in Dallas.

ESPN’s Get Up pointed out that the Cowboys have been flagged 266 times since McCarthy took over. That’s also the most in the league.

“Something is not being addressed,” host and former Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said on Monday’s show. “This has now become a Mike McCarthy issue. This ain’t about the preseason game.”

The coach, though, was quick to shoot down reporters’ comparisons between Saturday night’s flag-filled performance and anything that happened in 2021.

“This is preseason, and I don’t think this has anything to do with last year. Obviously you guys get to write what you want, but it’s a starting point,” McCarthy explained. “Yeah, I didn’t like the number of penalties, to make it clear. I talked about it at halftime and talked about it briefly in there [in the locker room]. We’ll take a long look at it.”

Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore was a fresh-faced newbie not that long ago; he remembers that first-game jitters are real, even in just a preseason matchup.

“It’s football season, so the levels are high and everybody is trying to compete and get after it. Obviously, that is something we’ve got to be better [at], and we will,” the third-year man said. “Shout out to the young guys; I know what it’s like: your first game, especially playing out here with such a crowd. I know their emotions are running high, but it’s one of those things that once the game got going, they were able to slow it down. I feel it is like that every year.”

Cowboys fans could say the same about that deja vu feeling when it comes to the officials getting as much face time as the players.

Referee Alex Kemp, who led Saturday’s crew in Denver, also officiated Dallas’s most recent game, the wild card loss to the 49ers in which he dinged the Cowboys 14 times.

The Cowboys worked with refs more than usual in the preseason in hopes of better understanding officials’ tendencies. Holding themselves to more of a gamelike standard in practice, the thinking was, would cut down on penalties called during games.

Saturday’s outing did not seem to validate that point, and the Cowboys coach was left looking, once again, for explanations as to why his team continues to shoot itself in the foot by being undisciplined.

“I was a little surprised they called that many penalties in Preseason [Game] One, but you need to go through that,” McCarthy said. “This will help us get ready. We’re draft-and-develop; this is what it looks like, unfortunately, sometimes. But we will be better from it. I have great confidence in that. I’ve done this my whole coaching career: I’ve always played a lot of young guys. Unfortunately, it starts like this.”

But even more unfortunately for the Cowboys over the past two seasons, it has also seemed to keep going like this, too.

It’s easy to blame youngsters’ inexperience. Or preseason rust. Or nitpicky officiating. Or one or two undisciplined players.

At some point, though, the constantly-pointed finger is going to swing back around to the one constant through it all.

“Ultimately, when you get to Week 3 and 4,” Spears said, “and you continue to see the same things, something is not being addressed. Either you need to replace this dude [who’s committing repeated penalties], or you’re not coaching it the way it’s supposed to be coached.”

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Top 12 quotes from Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy’s Day 1 presser

The Cowboys head coach spoke about running philosophy, managing the offseason and his decreasing waistline, among many things. | From @KDDrummondNFL

The Dallas Cowboys head coach joined the media in a less entertaining setting than Tuesday’s State of the Union address. That featured pomp and circumstance as he was flanked by owner Jerry Jones and CEO Stephen Jones. Prepared to be back in his element on the field, McCarthy stopped to talk to reporters ahead of the team’s first official practice of 2022.

The third-year head coach touched on a series of topics Wednesday. They ranged from how Micah Parsons will be deployed, comparing players work in the spring to in camp, injury updates on several players (PUP designations were announced earlier in the day) and general preparation routines for the upcoming season. There was even a fun exchange over his offseason weight loss and personal training regimen.

Here are the top quotes from the day.

‘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.