Cowboys players defend Mike McCarthy, send maddening message after playoff choke

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Michael Owens/GettyImages

If there was any silver lining to the Dallas Cowboys crashing out of the playoffs on Wild Card Weekend, it was the possibility of Jerry Jones making sweeping changes. The old saying "you can't fire the players" had many believing Mike McCarthy and even Dan Quinn's jobs were in serious jeopardy.

After a week's worth of speculation, Jones shocked the world and decided to keep McCarthy as head coach. Jones released a statement in which he proclaimed conviction in McCarthy's ability to help the Cowboys reach their ultimate goal -- making and winning a Super Bowl.

That's a tough sell being that McCarthy hasn't led Dallas beyond the Divisional Round in three attempts. Did Cowboys leadership feel uncomfortable hitting the reset button when the team is technically knocking on the proverbial door?

What might have influenced Jones' decision, though, was the sheer support and respect McCarthy has in the locker room. Shortly after news of McCarthy's return broke Wednesday evening, multiple Cowboys players tweeted a clip of the head coach that went viral during the 2022 season.

Cowboys players defend Mike McCarthy after news of his return

There is obviously something to be said that McCarthy hasn't lost the locker room. It's apparent the team wanted him back.

Knowing McCarthy would get eviscerated by the media and that questions of his job security would follow, Dak Prescott fell on the sword after Sunday's loss with a loud statement defending McCarthy. That had to send a message to Jerry Jones.

However, safety Juanyeh Thomas and others pushing the "run it back" narrative is completely ignorant and speaks to a bigger issue within the team.

While the slogan might speak to the team's motivation, what exactly are you running back? Getting beaten to a pulp at home by a vastly inferior opponent? Trailing 27-0 in the second quarter of a playoff game? It was the most embarrassing loss in franchise history.

Running it back would be an easier sell if the Cowboys lost a heartbreaker in the second round or NFC Championship Game. Pushing it after they were uncompetitive against a nine-win Packers team that fields first- and second-year players all over the place sends a terrible message to fans, even if that wasn't the intent.

The locker room might feel it's "close" (whatever that means), and it might have full conviction in McCarthy. There's nothing wrong with rallying behind McCarthy and publicly supporting him as fans and media members ridiculed the decision to bring him back. The "run it back" mantra is where they lose us.

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