Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decided last week to bring Mike McCarthy back for another go after that embarrassing first-round loss at home to Green Bay. Now word comes that while they are sticking with McCarthy, he won’t be getting a contract extension. So, essentially Jones has given his head coach the secondary title of “lame duck,” with no security whatsoever for the future. This presents the question of why the Cowboys moved so fast in deciding to run it back only to drop this bombshell days later.
The easy answer here is that it’s Jerry Jones. But what was the point? This would have been the time to go in another direction with so many successful candidates on the market. If Dan Quinn moves on and takes a head coaching gig, it’s going to be even tougher to get over the hump next year without the mastermind of the Cowboys defense. Unless the plan is to slide Quinn into McCarthy’s spot if Dallas falls short again.
Should Dallas start off slow next season they likely won’t recover. McCarthy will lose that locker room with no extension if the Cowboys get off to, say, a 2-5 start. Now, this team is so talented that it probably won’t happen, but anything is possible. With no reassurance from the owner, McCarthy will just be dangling out there with no net in 2024. He’ll need to prove he’s the guy to get this organization back where they feel it belongs.
It’s hard to fire a coach after three consecutive 12-win seasons. That’s not hard to understand, but when you’re leading a franchise that used to measure success by Super Bowls, it’s hard to be completely satisfied with the results of McCarthy’s tenure. Aside from that first year during COVID, McCarthy’s squad has been great in the regular season.
Winning division titles and simply qualifying for the postseason is great if you’re Jacksonville or Carolina. When you’re representing a franchise with a winning history, making it to the divisional round or being eliminated on Wild-Card Weekend just isn’t acceptable. At least it shouldn’t be tolerated.
Anything less than an NFC Championship game appearance and McCarthy should be exiting stage left. That’s what it’s come to for Jones’ Cowboys. Making the NFC title game would be a huge win for this five-time Super Bowl-winning organization. Dallas could go 15-2 next year. If they flame out before conference championship weekend, Jones must draw the line. It might not be the most popular decision at that point, but Jones has made tough decisions before. Since they’re sticking with Dak Prescott, something else needs to change. Get ready to watch McCarthy stand on that plank for 18 weeks next fall.