Grading Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy midway through the season

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Coming into the bye week, Mike McCarthy has this Dallas Cowboys team surging, sitting at 6-2, and in the thick of not only the race for the NFC East title but the NFC itself.

Not many would have thought the Cowboys would be here before the season started after losing players like Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and Cedrick Wilson in the offseason. And if you thought they’d be here after having star quarterback Dak Prescott miss five of the first six games of the season due to a thumb injury, people would have called you insane.

To much surprise, here we are, and many thanks should go out to head coach Mike McCarthy for keeping this team together, as he looks to be the first coach since Chan Gailey in 1998-1999 to lead his team to back-to-back playoff berths.

Looking back over McCarthy’s tenure here in Texas, so far, it’s all been relatively impressive. Currently, McCarthy has a 24-17 record as coach of the Cowboys, and that’s with Prescott missing 17 games in the past three seasons.

During his tenure thus far with the Cowboys, he has a great track record of keeping things afloat without his starting QB with a record of 9-8 in games without Prescott, including a 5-1 record without him this season.

While his 15-9 record with No. 4 starting is far better, it’s nice to see this team won’t crumble due to one injury as they did in prior years. For example, Jason Garrett had a record of 6-16 without Prescott or Tony Romo starting as quarterback for him.

Success for this team no longer hinges on the quarterbacks playing superhero football. Instead, it’s a team effort and complimentary football, with Dan Quinn and the defense picking up the slack, and an offense focused on running the ball while Prescott was away. McCarthy and Co. have created a stable environment here that is focused on winning.

Due to the environment McCarthy has created, he has many believing he officially put the Sean Payton rumors to bed, and he should be commended for his handling of adversity not only this season but keeping this team motivated after numerous subtractions to the roster after a devastating playoff loss last season.

He does not come without flaws though, as this team still has massive penalty issues, and McCarthy continues to have some questionable clock management skills. Even knowing that… winning fixes everything, and McCarthy has done just that. Despite the flaws, despite the adversity, and despite the media circus that surrounds him, he has the Cowboys in an excellent position going forward.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy deserves an A grade for his job so far in 2022

Having a 6-2 record when your star QB has only played two of the games is nothing to scoff at, regardless of how the games have been won. McCarthy’s ability to hold things together through tough times is a testament to the character of the team he leads. If the Cowboys keep winning, McCarthy could find himself mentioned in the running for coach of the year.

Being head coach of the Cowboys comes with distractions, issues, and a media circus to deal with; but with McCarthy at the helm this year, it has been all business and all winning. He gets an A grade at the halfway point of the season, and he has earned every bit of it.

That A grade isn’t only because of how well he’s handled adversity, it’s for the mindset he’s instilled in this team and the fact that he hasn’t been afraid to go against the grain, by calling out deficiencies early in the season that the team needed work on.

The season looked lost after the Tampa Bay game, but McCarthy wasn’t phased. He called out Kellen Moore in the public media, declaring that he needed to make smarter decisions when it came to play calling. It’s been a while since any Cowboys figurehead decided to speak up and actually call someone out for issues they cause the team, and McCarthy proved he’s not afraid to stand up and speak out in order to fix things.

After that, the Cowboys became a run-first, defense-focused squad who averaged 131.5 rushing yards per game heading into the bye week. The focus on running has allowed the team to play to their strengths and rely on the team’s ferocious defense, and limit turnovers, as the Cowboys rank second in the league in turnover differential, just behind the Eagles.

The only thing keeping McCarthy from getting an A+ currently is the penalty issues. They’re still a massive issue for this Cowboys team, as Dallas is fourth in the NFL in penalties against them. It’s an issue that has plagued the Cowboys for years that we can only hope doesn’t end up biting us in the rear end again come playoff time.

However, McCarthy’s performance this season has been commendable thus far, and we all should be looking forward to the rest of this season with him at the helm because it’s clear he means business and is running a much tighter ship than his predecessor.

The Cowboys will exit the bye week facing McCarthy’s old team the Green Bay Packers on the road, which will be a big test for this team. Hopefully, going forward, McCarthy can keep this grade, as this upcoming stretch of games and hopefully playoff appearance look to be the most important stretch of football in his Cowboys coaching career.

Grade for Mike McCarthy in Weeks 1-8: A