After a shocking playoff loss to the Packers, speculation swirled about coach Mike McCarthy’s job security in Dallas. However, owner Jerry Jones has decided to retain McCarthy for the 2024 season without extending his contract that expires after next year.
The Cowboys finished 2022 with a 13-6 record and NFC East title under McCarthy. But their lackluster home wild card round performance renewed doubts about the coach’s long-term fit. Still, Jones is preaching patience and continuity by keeping McCarthy in place — essentially on a lame duck prove-it deal.
Lead Up to the Decision
Expectations were sky high for the talented Cowboys entering this season after last year’s home playoff debacle. McCarthy sought to fix persistent game management issues in 2022.
The team got off to a strong start, but quarterback Dak Prescott’s thumb injury in Week 1 disrupted momentum. After Cooper Rush kept Dallas afloat, Prescott eventually returned to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.
However, sloppy play plagued the team down the stretch. Bizarre decisions by McCarthy resurfaced in the 19-12 loss to the 49ers. Still, Dallas rallied to pound Washington and set up a third showdown with Aaron Rodgers’ Packers.
|McCarthy’s Cowboys Tenure
|13-6 (Lost Divisional Round)
|12-5 (Lost Wild Card Round)
McCarthy’s long tenure and Super Bowl win with the Packers seemingly bought him some leeway with Jones. But another early exit amplified calls for major changes from prominent media personalities.
Both Jones and McCarthy described their recent summit as “very positive.” It clearly centered on addressing mistakes without the disruption of regime change.
Details of McCarthy’s 2024 Return
By all accounts, McCarthy will be back without a contract extension beyond 2024. He will effectively enter a prove-it season to show Jones he deserves to stay in Dallas long term.
McCarthy expressed a strong desire to retain defensive coordinator Dan Quinn if he does not land a head coaching job elsewhere. Keeping that top five defense intact would give the Cowboys enviable continuity on both sides of the ball.
Jerry Jones citedfindAll Dak Prescott’s comfort with this staff as a key reason to stay the course. Amari Cooper’s departure last offseason disrupted the offense, so Jones likely wants to give Prescott a second year with CeeDee Lamb as the new top target.
However, Jones made clear that just making the playoffs next season would not suffice. Advancing farther with more composure in big spots is the urgent expectation. Anything short of at least an NFC Championship Game appearance will likely result in McCarthy’s dismissal.
What Happens Next?
Mike McCarthy enters the 2024 season knowing his job hangs squarely in the balance. Jones will expect sharper game management and cooler performances under pressure from both McCarthy and Prescott.
With Kellen Moore firmly entrenched as offensive coordinator, the offense should improve with more comfort in his system. Quinn may leave for a head job, but the defense boasts young playmakers like Micah Parsons to build around.
If veterans like Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarcus Lawrence decline though, jobs could be lost. McCarthy will have to deftly navigate potential changeover on the roster and staff.
Major strategic changes do not appear necessary. But McCarthy must alter the team’s tendencies to falter late in big games. Finding a way to beat playoff caliber opponents is an absolute must or Jones will make a change.
Everything lines up well for one more run before Prescott’s contract balloons and shakes up roster dynamics. But McCarthy and the Cowboys have to walk that narrow line between continuity and complacency.
- McCarthy will return in 2024 without a contract extension after playoff loss
- Owner Jerry Jones preached patience but expects deeper playoff run
- Offense should improve in Year 2 under Kellen Moore
- Defense staying elite hinges on Dan Quinn’s status
- Major strategic changes unlikely but more poise in big spots required
- Prescott’s comfort with current staff a factor in staying course
- Extension talks likely hinge on at least NFC title game berth
- Roster continuity a boost but can’t breed complacency
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