It's not farfetched to say Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is entering a make-or-break season.
That normally wouldn't be the case for a coach who's won 11 games and made the playoffs in consecutive years, but McCarthy was handed the keys to the offense -- and really the franchise -- after the team dismissed Kellen Moore and several other coaches after last season.
For McCarthy to keep his job, the Cowboys will likely have to advance farther than the Divisional Round.
Firing another coach wouldn't be in Dallas' best interest given the consistency McCarthy has brought to the organization, but Jerry Jones and the fans are starved for a Super Bowl and McCarthy has a wobbly track record in the playoffs.
Still, the last two seasons have proven McCarthy is one of the NFL's better coaches. There's myriad high-level coaches out there, but McCarthy's resume speaks for itself and most would agree he's a top 10-12 HC in the league.
The 33rd Team's Ross Tucker would vehemently disagree, however. So much so that he pegged McCarthy as the NFC East's worst coach entering the 2023 season in his head coach rankings, all the way down at No. 21.
Cowboys' Mike McCarthy disrespected in 2023 head coach rankings
We're joking, right?
Brian Daboll is already a top-10 head coach after one season? He's better than Super Bowl champs Pete Carroll and John Harbaugh? We're not going to push back too much on Nick Sirianni ranking in the top five, but you'd be hard-press to name a coach who couldn't take that Eagles roster to the Super Bowl.
More noteworthy, however, is McCarthy being listed behind Ron Rivera. While Rivera guided the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, he owns a career 98-90-2 record as head coach. He's made the playoffs five times in 12 seasons and has finished at or below .500 in eight seasons.
It's unclear if personnel decision-making is baked into these rankings, but need we remind the people that Rivera signed off on Washington trading multiple draft picks last offseason for a broken Carson Wentz?
Then, there's newbies Kevin O'Connell, Dan Campbell, Arthur Smith and Mike McDaniel. O'Connell wins 13 games in year one and suddenly is better than McCarthy? Does Tucker recall O'Connell's Vikings choking at home in the first round of the playoffs against the inferior Giants?
Campbell won three games in his first year and was on the hot seat in 2022 until the Lions saved their season. He's 12-21-1 in two seasons on the job.
Smith, meanwhile, has logged two 7-10 seasons despite the NFC South being one of the worst divisions in football since he took over in Atlanta, and McDaniel's Dolphins lost five of six to finish the season and fell out of the playoffs after holding a spot nearly all campaign.
Nobody's anointing McCarthy as a top-five coach. As we alluded to earlier, he deserves to be somewhere in the top 12. No worse than 15 and no higher than eight feels like a proper parameter for the Cowboys skipper.
We're not sure what Tucker has against McCarthy, but it has to be significant for McCarthy to lag behind a perennial underachiever in Rivera and four budding, but unproven coaches in O'Connell, Campbell, Smith and McDaniel.
What a shambolic list.