Forgotten beef between Mike McCarthy and Dolphins assistant makes Week 16 personal

Nov 2, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at press conference
Nov 2, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at press conference / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn't cover himself in glory last week. Not only was his team not ready to match the Bills' physicality and desperation, but McCarthy blew a great chance to swing momentum in the Cowboys' favor when he didn't challenge a clear fumble by Buffalo receiver Stefon Diggs in the second quarter.

McCarthy and the Cowboys have a prime bounce-back opportunity this week against the Miami Dolphins, whose injury reports reads like a child's Christmas list. Beyond needing a win to remove the taste from last Sunday, winning out gives Dallas the best chance to win the NFC East.

For McCarthy, though, this matchup is personal as he lock horns with old nemesis Vic Fangio, who serves as the Dolphins defensive coordinator.

McCarthy and Fangio have faced off numerous times in their coaching careers. Back when McCarthy was coaching in Green Bay, Fangio served as the Bears defensive coordinator. McCarthy went an impressive 6-1 head-to-head against Fangio's Bears defenses as the Packers play-caller.

Sure, Aaron Rodgers is the great equalizer, but Fangio clearly took those matchups personally. Sure enough, Fangio handed the Cowboys one of their worst home losses in the last 30 years in 2021 -- McCarthy's second year as head coach -- when his Broncos beat Dallas 30-16.

Beef between Cowboys' Mike McCarthy, Dolphins' Vic Fangio makes Week 16 matchup personal

It was 30-0 before the Cowboys scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. Then the head coach of Denver, Fangio took a shot at McCarthy's offense after the game ... even though Kellen Moore called the plays at the time.

“We just have to do it the right way, call it the right way, which I’m in charge of so you know that that’s going to be taken care of, and I just felt OK about it," Vangio said. "I want to say good about it. Teams just haven’t played them [the Cowboys] the right way."

It felt like Vangio was holding that in for a while. McCarthy wasn't fazed, though. The head coach was almost amused that Vangio thought he gave the NFL a blueprint on how to beat the Cowboys.

“This is a copycat league. I just told the team, so get ready. I hope they do, too. Vic played us very aggressive. That’s good to hear him beating his own drum. Their linebacker depth, their linebackers are three yards, the safeties were up. In that case, you make their corners tackle. They played us aggressive. They went for it. I think you want that from the other team.”

"Beating his own drum," is a subtle shot from McCarthy, who was clearly aware of his previous success against Vangio. He let the then-Broncos DC take his victory lap, however, and something tells us he (nor Vangio) have forgotten their history. In fact, it's probably a prime motivator for each coach this week.

Get ready for a Christmas Eve chess match between two longtime rivals.

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