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March 2, 2024

Cowboys Stick with McCarthy for 2024, Hope to End Playoff Drought

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Jan 19, 2024

The Dallas Cowboys have faced criticism for yet another early playoff exit, but team owner Jerry Jones believes staying the course with head coach Mike McCarthy is the best path forward to end the franchise’s nearly 30-year championship drought.

McCarthy Gets Vote of Confidence Despite Losses

After a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round, speculation swirled that Jones would move on from McCarthy before the final year of his contract in 2024. However, Jones announced this week that McCarthy would return next season, citing the coach’s experience and expressing optimism about the team’s future [1][2].

“I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. That’s where it starts,” said Jones [3]. “I have a lot more to evaluate Mike McCarthy on than this playoff game.”

The Cowboys have gone 18-15 in two seasons under McCarthy, losing in the Wild Card round last year and Divisional round this year. His .545 regular season winning percentage with Dallas ranks fifth among coaches who have been with the team at least two seasons [4].

Coach Seasons Record Win % Playoff Record
Jason Garrett 2010-2019 85-67 .559 2-3
Wade Phillips 2007-2010 34-22 .607 1-2
Bill Parcells 2003-2006 34-30 .531 0-2
Dave Campo 2000-2002 15-33 .313 0-0
Mike McCarthy 2022-2023 18-15 .545 1-2

Table: Cowboys head coaching records since 2000. Source: [4]

“I don’t know how I could look to improve over what Mike McCarthy has done,” Jones said [5]. “Now could we have better results? Yeah.”

Eyes on Super Bowl as Drought Drags On

The Cowboys, who won five Super Bowls in the 1970s and 90s, haven’t made it back to the championship game since beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 season. At 28 years, only the Detroit Lions and New York Jets have had longer Super Bowl appearance droughts [6].

McCarthy led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl XLV win over his current team following the 2010 season. The Cowboys hope his experience helping quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers end a string of close playoff losses is exactly what their talented roster needs to get over the hump.

“I know how to win. I have great confidence in that,” said McCarthy [7]. “I know we’ve got to get past that last step.”

Dallas has lost in the Divisional round each of the last two seasons after digging early holes against San Francisco. The team expects strides from quarterback Dak Prescott, entering his seventh pro season, and believes continuity with McCarthy puts them in prime position [8].

“I think with coach McCarthy, he’s a great leader of men,” Prescott said after the loss [9]. “…I look forward to continuing to lead and win games with him.”

Future Hinges on Defense Staying Intact

While the Cowboys offense boasts elite talent including Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and receivers CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, much of their 2023 success could come down to retention and improvement on defense.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has transformed the Dallas defense into a formidable group over the last two seasons and helped the team to back-to-back 12-5 campaigns. After receiving interest from multiple teams for head coaching vacancies this offseason, Quinn withdrew his name from consideration and will be back leading the defense in 2024 [10].

However, Dallas does have 19 players set to become unrestricted free agents this March, including eight key defensive contributors [11]:

  • LB Leighton Vander Esch
  • DT Johnathan Hankins
  • DE Dorance Armstrong
  • S Jayron Kearse
  • S Malik Hooker
  • CB Anthony Brown
  • DT Carlos Watkins
  • LB Luke Gifford

“I do believe we’ll ultimately get where we want to go,” McCarthy said about making strides in 2024 [12]. “We have an outstanding nucleus of players to work with.”

NFC East Remains Cowboys’ to Lose

While fans have expressed frustration with the team’s inability to capitalize on a talented roster, Dallas remains in the driver’s seat in the NFC East division. They have won the East three of the last four years, and the other three teams continue to have unsettled quarterback situations [13].

Division rivals Philadelphia, New York and Washington have question marks at the game’s most important position. The Eagles could lose starter Jalen Hurts in free agency, the Giants have passed on committing to Daniel Jones long-term, and the Commanders have uncertainty with the returning Carson Wentz [14].

Barring injuries at key positions, the Cowboys seem poised to continue their reign atop the division standings thanks to McCarthy, a capable signal caller in Prescott and playmakers on both sides of the ball. Continuity could lead to yet another division title, but Cowboys fans are hoping for much more in 2024.

Pressure Mounting Heading into Contract Year

While Jones continues to back McCarthy publicly, the pressure is rising significantly heading into the final year of his five-year contract. Jones is known for his impatience regarding results, famously saying “there is no bar too high for the Dallas Cowboys” [15].

“Jerry Jones is a very understanding person…to a point,” said Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Howie Long [16]. “The point he stops understanding is when he doesn’t get the ultimate playoff success.”

McCarthy becomes just the fifth head coach to enter a season for Dallas without having his contract extended. The others – Tom Landry, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, and Wade Phillips – were all fired by Jones within two years [17].

If McCarthy cannot guide the talented Cowboys deeper into the playoffs in 2024, his tenure with America’s Team is likely to come to a disappointing end barring an improbable contract extension. Jones wants another Lombardi Trophy for the Cowboys franchise before his ownership time expires, and McCarthy’s job security likely depends heavily on moving closer to that goal next season.

Sources:  

[1] https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/39336984/mike-mccarthy-returning-cowboys-buy-us 

[2] https://www.wsj.com/sports/football/dallas-cowboys-jerry-jones-mike-mccarthy-1b1ebee2

[3] https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/cowboys-retaining-mike-mccarthy-for-2024-dallas-coach-hopes-to-keep-dan-quinn-if-dc-not-hired-as-hc/

[4] https://thelandryhat.com/posts/new-report-suggest-cowboys-wouldve-hired-even-worse-head-coach-if-mike-mccarthy-was-fired-01hmenj5qskk 

[5] https://www.dallascowboys.com/news/jerry-jones-releases-statement-on-mccarthy-s-return  

[6] https://www.marca.com/en/nfl/dallas-cowboys/2024/01/18/65a87cba46163fd5378b4631.html

[7] https://www.nfl.com/news/mike-mccarthy-confident-in-direct-of-cowboys-i-know-how-to-win  

[8] https://www.sbnation.com/platform/amp/nfl/2024/1/18/24042744/dallas-cowboys-mike-mccarthy-dak-prescott-jerry-jones-nfl  

[9] https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/1748026882820305215

[10] https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/cowboys-retaining-mike-mccarthy-for-2024-dallas-coach-hopes-to-keep-dan-quinn-if-dc-not-hired-as-hc/

[11] https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/cowboys-mike-mccarthy-2024/  

[12] https://www.reuters.com/sports/cowboys-mike-mccarthy-vows-grow-2024-return-2024-01-18/  

[13] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10105607-winners-and-losers-after-cowboys-keep-mike-mccarthy-following-nfl-playoff-loss

[14] https://www.si.com/nfl/2024/01/15/firing-mike-mccarthy-total-cowboys-move  

[15] https://defector.com/mike-mccarthy-must-be-doing-something-right

[16] https://www.foxnews.com/sports/nfl-great-howie-long-understands-why-cowboys-stuck-with-mike-mccarthy-bill-belichick-but-this-is-it  

[17] https://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2024/1/18/24042458/jerry-jones-has-not-fired-a-dallas-cowboys-head-coach-at-the-end-of-a-season-in-over-20-years
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To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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