Mike McCarthy seemingly takes shot at Dan Quinn in discussing draft disappointment

Event Name: NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
Event Name: NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Even though Dan Quinn left for the Washington Commanders, everything is coming up sunshine and rainbows for the newly-minted head coach. Conversely, Mike McCarthy's Dallas Cowboys are arguably the laughingstock of the league amid their disastrous offseason.

Coming off the most embarrassing loss in franchise history, the Cowboys have done the bare minimum to improve their roster. They're interested in regressing RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook while Stephon Gilmore remains unsigned and they're once again playing hardball with Dak Prescott's contract extension.

In Washington, Quinn is fresh off spending oodles of money to fix a previously-hemorrhaging Commanders roster. He plucked multiple Dallas free agents to improve Washington's pass rush and offensive line and revamped the team's linebacker room in the form of former Dallas target Bobby Wagner.

While Quinn enjoys the honeymoon phase at his new gig, it's important to remember he left behind quite the mess in Dallas. Namely, 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith showed zero improvement over the course of his rookie year.

At the league meetings in Orlando, McCarthy assured that the Cowboys will have a "better plan" for Smith in year two.

Cowboys' Mike McCarthy might've slighted Dan Quinn in discussing Mazi Smith

This could be interpreted as a shot at Quinn. It's speculated that Quinn asked Smith to lose weight and convert to a three-tech tackle. Drafted as a one-tech nose tackle, the position switch and weight loss proved detrimental to Smith's development and his rookie season was essentially a waste.

Quinn's supposed "plan" was a disaster. A run-stuffer and space-eater at Michigan, Smith finished with the lowest run-defense grade on the Cowboys roster in 2023, per Pro Football Focus. He was inexplicably used more as a pass-rusher (156 snaps) than a run defender (152).

It was feared Smith wouldn't be a great fit in Quinn's scheme, but nobody could have envisioned Quinn misusing him to that extent. Luckily for Smith and the Cowboys, Mike Zimmer's defense is a perfect fit for Smith, assuming he converts back to his familiar nose tackle position.

The offseason shoulder surgery was a surprise, but assuming that injury is in the rearview, Smith should make a sizable impact in 2024. It would help if Dallas found him a proper running mate. As of this writing, Smith is the lone nose tackle on the roster. The options in free agency are dwindling fast after 2023 starter Johnathan Hankins reunited with former defensive line coach Aden Durde in Seattle.

Maybe McCarthy didn't mean this as a shot at Quinn, but it's clear the head coach wasn't a fan of the plan in place for Smith last season. The more you listen to McCarthy, the more apparent it is that he and Quinn weren't on the same page on a lot of things, including the team's 2023 first-round pick.

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