Everyone is waiting with baited breath for the Dallas Cowboys to come to a decision on Mike McCarthy. Following the Cowboys' demoralizing Wild Card loss to the Packers, it's fair to say most of the fan base wants Jerry Jones to make a change at head coach.
Sunday's loss was the kind of catastrophe that demands a change. The Cowboys not only squandered their best chance to get to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 28 years, but they were vastly out-played and out-coached in all three phases.
It's arguable that Dan Quinn's game plan didn't give McCarthy's offense a chance to find rhythm. Green Bay scored on six of its first seven possessions. The Cowboys didn't force their second punt until late in the fourth quarter when the Packers had their second-team offense in the game.
On the other hand, McCarthy entered nightmare mode as a play-caller in the first quarter, when the game was still in the balance. We're hard-pressed to think that McCarthy is the coach to lead Dallas to the mountaintop, but Sunday's disaster might not have been enough to cost him his job, after all.
Per the Dallas Morning News, Jones and McCarthy will meet on Thursday or Friday, seemingly to discuss the team's plans for 2024. The report laid the groundwork for McCarthy to return a head coach.
NFL Rumors: Cowboys considering retaining Mike McCarthy as head coach
Here's a snippet from David Moore's article:
"Before the game against Green Bay, the only pertinent conversation about McCarthy’s future appeared to be whether or not the team would go deep enough to earn him an extension. That’s off the table now. How does Jones shift from that starting point to seriously considering a coaching change?"
"That’s quite a leap, no matter how hard the Green Bay loss hit."
"McCarthy has one year left on his contract. So does Prescott unless/until his contract is addressed. A strong argument can be made that it’s in the Cowboys’ best interest to give these two one more year together before moving on."
Moore brings up some salient points. Firing McCarthy would mean equipping Dak Prescott, whose due for another extension this offseason, with a third offensive scheme and play-caller in as many seasons. Playoff letdown notwithstanding, Prescott had a career year in 2023.
Prescott admitted to seeing the field better than he ever has and attributed that to McCarthy's system and coaching. It's fair to question what axing McCarthy would mean for Prescott's performance, especially if the Cowboys hire a defensive-minded coach like Bill Belichick or Mike Vrabel.
But we've seen Prescott thrive with a variety of play-callers and coordinators.
At the end of the day, the McCarthy-Prescott marriage is a "viable" reason to run it back next campaign. It shouldn't be the driving force behind Jones' decision, though. Sunday was an embarrassment of epic proportions; perhaps the worst loss in franchise history.
Running it back with McCarthy would be asking for another letdown, equivalent to kicking the can down the road. More importantly, the market of available coaches is unprecedented. The Cowboys might not get a better chance to hit the reset button and chase a ring with this core of players.