Dallas Cowboys haters are still having a field day after seeing the teams' collapse two weeks ago. After swallowing the tough loss, the Cowboys have to look towards next season. The players, coaching staff and ownership have a lot of work to do because like most years, a team that looked promising during the first 16-17 weeks, folded when it mattered most.
The word is out: Mike McCarthy is coming back next season. Many were screaming for him to be fired, but Jerry Jones let it be known that he is content with what McCarthy has done with the team, outside of the playoff woes.
The Cowboys have had a lot of regular season success (12-5 in each of the last three years) and it seems like Jones himself is holding on to hope that McCarthy can be the guy to get them over the hump. However, he did not go ahead and give McCarthy a contract extension, so it is a "prove-it" year for McCarthy. If it is a same outcome next winter, he will for sure be coaching elsewhere in 2025, if he is coaching at all.
Jones not extending McCarthy to a longer contract seemingly shows that Jones hopes to light a fire under McCarthy to step up. Either way as a team, they have a lot to fix, lets dive into a few.
1. Improve the run-game
McCarthy made it a point prior to 2023 to improve the running game with more control of the offense. That did not happen. They were not a terrible running team (averaged 4 yards per carry, 113 total rushing yards per game), but they expected more. Tony Pollard getting more volume did not relate to more success either. In fact, his repeat 1,000 yard season this year did not look as explosive as the year prior when he was sharing the workload with Ezekiel Elliott.
Pollard is set to became an unrestricted free agent and the Cowboys more than likely will not go into a bidding war to keep him. Therefore building a solid running back room will have to start from a good draft weekend. Rico Dowdle is not a number one running back so addressing this hole (if Pollard walks), is a must. Meanwhile, rarely-used Deuce Vaughn, showed no signs of more touches headed his way, yet anyways, Therefore, this is a big void needing to be filled.
There have been names such as Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler among other who made it known that they want to go compete for a Super Bowl. In Dallas you are always working toward championship, so perhaps a big name veteran back would take their chances and sign with the Cowboys. This could give McCarthy a solid running back to work with and it would be easier to plug in a veteran than having to groom a rookie.
Either way, an improved running game is a must so less pressure is put on Dak Prescott to make plays. Prescott is nearing 31 years old and he should not have to throw 40-45 times a game for the Cowboys to win. Therefore a better rushing attack in 2024 should be one of McCarthy's top priorities.