Winners and Losers After Cowboys Keep Mike McCarthy Following NFL Playoff Loss

Winners and Losers After Cowboys Keep Mike McCarthy Following NFL Playoff Loss

0 of 5

    Mike McCarthy

    Mike McCarthyMegan Briggs/Getty Images

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    After the Dallas Cowboys became the first team in league history to lose to a No. 7 seed in the playoffs (while allowing 48 points in a blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers), there was no shortage of speculation that Mike McCarthy’s time as head coach was over.

    Well, on Wednesday, McCarthy and team owner Jerry Jones met—and nothing happened. McCarthy will return for the final year of his contract.

    “I believe this team is very close and capable of achieving our ultimate goals and the best step forward for us will be with Mike McCarthy as our head coach,” Jones said in a statement. “There is great benefit to continuing the team’s progress under Mike’s leadership as our head coach. Specifically, there are many layers of success that have occurred this season as a result of Mike’s approach to leading the team, both with individual players and with our team collectively.

    “Mike has the highest regular season winning percentage of any head coach in Cowboys history and we will dedicate ourselves, in partnership with him, to translating that into reaching our post season goals. Certainly, Mike’s career has demonstrated postseason success at a high level, and we have great confidence that can continue.”

    Now that one of the biggest (non)-dominoes of the 2024 coaching cycle has fallen, here’s a look at some of Wednesday’s winners and losers—both in Texas and beyond.

Winner: Mike McCarthy

1 of 5

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 14: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys watches action prior to the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on January 14, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    The first winner of the decision to keep McCarthy as head coach in Dallas is the most obvious one: McCarthy himself.

    While many fans of the team are shocked by this news, McCarthy clearly appeared to have the support of his locker room.

    Just after the loss to the Packers, quarterback Dak Prescott offered a full-throated defense of McCarthy. Cornerback Jourdain Lewis did the same while speaking to reporters at the team’s exit meetings.

    “This is one of the hardest jobs in America,” he said. “The quarterback and the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. I feel like [McCarthy’s] done a tremendous job with all things in consideration. It’s kind of hard. A lot of people against you, all of the outside noise, we just made sure we stuck our arms around each other and stayed together. I think he did a really good job. Look what happened when he wasn’t here. We were struggling to be over .500. We had three straight seasons of 12 winned games. I would hope [he would be back].”

    It’s those players that make McCarthy such a big winner here. Losing one of the most high-profile coaching gigs in America (and the check that comes with it) would be a drag. But he might have landed another job this cycle.

    But if McCarthy’s goal is to win a second Super Bowl, it’s going to be infinitely easier in Dallas than it would be in Atlanta or Nashville.

Loser: Dallas Cowboys

2 of 5

    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 30: Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy watches from the sidelines during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions on December 30, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The thing is, Mike McCarthy isn’t going to win a second Super Bowl in Dallas.

    To be clear, I am not one of the many folks who believe McCarthy should have no doubt, absolutely, 100 percent been fired. I was on the fence—and leaned toward the decision that Jerry Jones ultimately made.

    The Cowboys have won 12 games three years in a row. Dallas won 16 in a row at home. McCarthy has won a Super Bowl. He’s had considerable success.

    Where was the upgrade? Bill Belichick, who has been mediocre without Tom Brady? Jones and Jim Harbaugh would agree to a duel by October. Mike Vrabel? Dan Quinn?

    Those options aren’t necessarily better. They are just different.

    But none of that changes the fact that McCarthy is 11-11 for his career in the postseason and 1-3 in Dallas. Or that the Cowboys were just thoroughly embarrassed on their own field in every facet of the game. The complete lack of preparation that Dallas showed is absolutely a reflection of poor coaching on the biggest stage.

    We’ve seen this movie before. Dallas will field a talented team in 2024. It will win plenty of regular-season games. Quite possibly win the NFC East.

    And then the Cowboys will get to the playoffs and probably faceplant.

Winner: The Rest of the NFC East

3 of 5

    TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 15: Head coach Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles high-fives Julio Jones #80 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at Raymond James Stadium on January 15, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Keeping McCarthy might have been the right decision for Dallas. But there’s also a real chance that it’s the wrong one.

    Imagine for a moment that Bill Belichick makes the right coordinator hires and meshes well with Dak Prescott. Or that the Cowboys players rally around Dan Quinn and a new offensive coordinator. Or that Jim Harbaugh decides coaching the Cowboys is just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

    McCarthy is the devil that the rest of his NFC East foes already know. For better or worse, he is who he is. His tendencies. His flaws. His team’s ceiling.

    The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles already know who these Cowboys are. The Washington Commanders will soon enough, too.

Loser: Dan Quinn

4 of 5

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn deserves some of the blame for Sunday’s nightmare loss as well. After all, it was his defense that allowed a franchise postseason record 48 points to Green Bay’s Jordan Love in his playoff debut.

    Despite that, Quinn is still in the conversation for a number of head coaching vacancies. The 53-year-old either has interviewed or will interview with the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Commanders and Los Angeles Chargers this week alone, per Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer. And Cowboys star edge-rusher Micah Parsons even quipped that he might follow Quinn out the door if he left Dallas.

    “Dan’s my guy,” Parsons told reporters. “And if he do leave me, it’s always love. He might take me with him, you never know.”

    The thing is, none of those other vacancies are Dallas. And if McCarthy had been let go Quinn would have been one of the leading candidates to replace him.

    He might not have been Jerry Jones’ No. 1 pick. But he’d likely be close. He’s done a mostly excellent job in Dallas, and he’s well-respected by players and management.

    If Quinn is offered a head-coaching job elsewhere, he’ll likely take it. It’s hard to imagine him passing on another coaching cycle in the hopes of getting the Dallas job down the road.

    However, his best potential gig was the one McCarthy still has for now.

Winner: Other Teams Shopping for a Head Coach

5 of 5

    Bill Belichick

    Bill BelichickFred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Unless you believe that Mike McCarthy would have been the best head coaching candidate in the 2024 cycle, then his staying put has to be viewed as a win for every team looking for a head coach in the 2024 cycle.

    It’s a good thing for the Atlanta Falcons. And the Carolina Panthers. And the Las Vegas Raiders. And the Los Angeles Chargers. And the Seattle Seahawks. And the Tennessee Titans. And the Washington Commanders.

    Simply put, the Cowboys are a much more appealing job opening than any of those teams. Only the Chargers have stability at quarterback, and the team around Justin Herbert pales next to the roster around Dak Prescott.

    The Cowboys are “America’s Team,” owned by a man who will move heaven and earth to win one more Super Bowl. Yes, there are expectations, but win a Super Bowl in Dallas turns you into NFL royalty (unless you’re Barry Switzer).

    Now, Bill Belichick won’t be eyeing becoming the first coach to win a Super Bowl with multiple teams. Jim Harbaugh won’t be tempted by the allure of the Star. The Cowboys won’t get Mike Vrabel’s stability and professionalism or Ben Johnson’s youth and potential.

    The Cowboys probably could have had any of those guys. They have a Super Bowl-quality roster.

    Dallas standing pat thus helped every coach-less squad in the league.

Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here