Cowboys won't benefit from big NFL rule change thanks to Mike McCarthy

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders
Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders / Kara Durrette/GettyImages

The league meetings are currently taking place in Orlando, but Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn't make the trip. McCarthy was actually at Michigan's pro day over the weekend, so he's keeping busy as the front office continues to fumble free agency.

A number of rule changes have been approved at the meetings. Notably, the hip-drop tackle was banned. The controversial tackle caused Tony Pollard's fractured fibula and high-ankle sprain in the 2023 playoffs. Similarly, Dak Prescott nearly suffered a devastating injury this past season against the Lions when edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson tackled him from behind.

Speaking of the Lions, they proposed another rule change that got passed. Teams will be granted an additional challenge if they get one of their first two challenges correct. It used to be that teams must nail both challenges to earn a third. Now, getting one out of two right affords a team a third challenge.

That's a massive development for the league, but the Cowboys might struggle to reap the benefits given McCarthy's track record with challenges.

Cowboys might not benefit from new NFL challenge rule thanks to Mike McCarthy

McCarthy's game and clock management in close games has long drawn the ire of football fans, not just Cowboys and Packers diehards. For every strong challenge he makes, he seemingly always follows it with either a boneheaded challenge or being too slow to challenge an obvious mistake from referees.

In Dallas' pivotal Week 14 home game against the Eagles, McCarthy made an excellent challenge on a Rico Dowdle goal-line carry that initially wasn't ruled a touchdown. The play got overturned to a TD and the Cowboys jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the second quarter and never looked back.

The never next week against the Bills, though, McCarthy was caught sleeping on a clear fumble from Stefon Diggs that was missed by the refs. Replay showed that the ball was punched loose before either of Diggs' knees were down.

Despite Donovan Wilson gesturing to the sidelines for McCarthy to challenge, the head coach did nothing, which allowed the Bills to scurry to the line to run another play. McCarthy could've either thrown the challenge flag or called a timeout to buy Dallas time to review the play.

The Cowboys were trailing 14-3 at the time, so they were desperate for a momentum-swinging play. It came out of nowhere, but McCarthy wasn't on his toes. Sure enough, the Bills scored a touchdown later in the drive that all but put the nail in Dallas' coffin. The play was a potential 14-point swing.

One miss obviously doesn't define McCarthy's record challenging plays and he only has to get one challenge right to earn a third under the rule change. However, his wonky track record with the challenge flag and as a game-manager makes it hard to envision the Cowboys benefitting from this new rule.

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