The Dallas Cowboys have made sweeping changes to their coaching staff. The biggest change, of course, is the surprise “parting of ways” with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and promoting Mike McCarthy to chief play-caller.
It’s unclear if this was a Jerry Jones-influenced decision, or if the owner collaborated with McCarthy. The general consensus, though, is that McCarthy could be on the hot seat if the Cowboys don’t make it to at least the NFC title game next year after the team crashed out in the Divisional Round this year.
If McCarthy is going to go out, he might as well go out on his terms, right? Either way, there’s only two possible endings with him taking over play-calling. Either the experiment works like a charm, and McCarthy keeps his job through 2024, or Dallas underwhelms again and McCarthy is handed the pink slip.
With Sean Payton taking the Broncos head coaching job — and thereby being unavailable for the Cowboys (potential) gig in 2024 — let’s take a look at some non-Payton McCarthy replacements Dallas should have on a shortlist.
Possible 2024 Cowboys Mike McCarthy replacements with Sean Payton officially off the board.
3. Ben Johnson, Lions OC
Much like Cowboys fans with Dan Quinn last offseason, Lions fans rejoiced when Ben Johnson informed the team he’d return for the 2023 season.
After leading the Lions to ranking fifth in the NFL in points scored per game, Johnson received serious interest on the head coaching front. In fact, he had interviewed with Houston and Indianapolis, and was scheduled to meet with Carolina before he (somewhat surprisingly) confirmed his return to the Motor City.
Johnson will be on the top candidates on the market this time next year, so the Cowboys will have to fend off other teams to land his signature.
If there’s one thing Jerry Jones knows how do, it’s being a salesman. We like to think Dallas’ owner would have quite the recruitment pitch for Johnson — and any potential McCarthy replacement, for that matter — if it comes to it. He did persuade Dan Quinn to return, after all, right?
Johnson is considered one of the brightest young offensive minds in the NFL, and it’s tough to push back on that after the 2022 season.
With Jared Goff as his quarterback, Johnson’s Lions finished second in the league in yards per pass attempt, third in passing yards per game, fourth in total rushing yards (with D’Andre Swift banged up all year), and third in yards per carry at 5.2 yards per clip.