Little has gone proper for Mike McCarthy in his first 12 months as Dallas Cowboys head coach. Some he has had no management over, like coping with a digital offseason program, shortened coaching camp and no preseason video games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Throw within the season-ending accidents suffered by Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and different anticipated key contributors.
Then got here the death of strength and conditioning coordinator Markus Paul lower than 24 hours earlier than the Dallas Cowboys (3-8) misplaced to the Washington Football Team, 41-16, on Thursday.
Gamers repeatedly praised McCarthy for being delicate to their wants in the course of the springtime social unrest that adopted after the demise of George Floyd. And gamers praised McCarthy for a way he helped all people grieve the lack of Paul.
“Coach Mike McCarthy is a exceptional particular person,” Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith mentioned. “He is a man that loves and cares. And he is aware of what he is doing. We have to determine it out. It isn’t all on him. It is a staff effort. We play a staff sport, and profitable is the secret. All is properly, however nothing issues while you lose. You need to win, particularly taking part in for America’s Staff. All of these items we’re experiencing proper now’s solely going to make us stronger. We haven’t any quitters. Now we have fighters on this group from prime to backside.”
It is the issues that McCarthy can management, nevertheless, which have raised issues this season.
He handed on a possible game-tying 28-yard subject objective within the fourth quarter of the 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1.
He was finally bailed out within the Week 2 win by an onside kick after electing to go for a 2-point conversion down 9 factors towards the Atlanta Falcons. And that got here after two failed pretend punts. Whereas analytics may need been on his facet, Mike McCarthy didn’t go for 2 when offered the identical alternative the next week towards the Seattle Seahawks.
McCarthy’s fourth-down choices within the loss to Washington have been maybe much more egregious as a result of the present iteration of the Dallas Cowboys wants virtually every thing to go proper to be able to win.
On the primary collection on Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys misplaced left sort out Cameron Erving and proper sort out Zack Martin to accidents for the remainder of the sport.
Dealing with fourth-and-inches from the Dallas 34 within the second quarter, McCarthy opted to go for it in a 10-10 recreation. Certainly he would hand off to the Dallas Cowboys’ $90-million operating again, Ezekiel Elliott, who was coming off his first 100-yard recreation 4 days earlier. Nope. As a substitute, he opted to have backup quarterback Andy Dalton throw a go to CeeDee Lamb that fell incomplete. Even when the play had labored, the Dallas Cowboys would have needed to punt anyway due to a private foul penalty on tight finish Dalton Schultz.
By turning it over on downs and getting 15 yards, Washington wanted simply 19 yards to attain a go-ahead landing.
“It was a clear matchup,” McCarthy mentioned. “Truthfully, we had one-on-one on the perimeter. Clearly, the outcome wasn’t what we have been in search of. I feel all people noticed what occurred on the play. These are performs that you just look to create alternatives, and it was a great playcall. We had one-on-one on the surface. We simply did not convert.”
Within the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys have been nonetheless within the recreation, trailing 20-16, after they confronted a fourth-and-10 from their very own 24. If there was ever a time to punt, this appeared to be it, however Mike McCarthy OK’d a pretend punt referred to as by special-teams coordinator John Fassel.
Punter Hunter Niswander, who has been on the energetic roster for 3 video games, was purported to be on the receiving finish of a go from huge receiver Cedrick Wilson. Now, Wilson does have a landing go to his credit score this season, hitting Prescott towards the New York Giants. However Washington was in good place to forestall the go, and Wilson ended up dropping a yard.
On the subsequent play, Washington’s Antonio Gibson ran untouched from 23 yards for a landing and a 27-16 lead. “Nicely, you aren’t getting wherever if you concentrate on the negatives on a regular basis,” McCarthy mentioned. “Clearly, it was a stable playcall. It is a good play design. Their gunner made a great play. He got here off of it and put us in a excessive/low learn for Cedrick. It is a play that if we hit it, we’re sitting [good]. That is the character of these performs. So, you possibly can by no means hit them in case you do not name them and do not consider in them. I clearly understood the state of affairs when it was referred to as.”
Requested if he actually thought it was a great name, McCarthy doubled down.
“I am superb with my reply earlier than,” he mentioned. “There’s clearly movie research that goes into the decision while you name it. However yeah, while you name it, you are clearly seeking to convert it. You clearly perceive on fourth-down calls what your choices are. … There’s circulation of the sport and all these issues that issue into the choice. I am very assured in our gamers, and we put them in place to make large performs.”
With 5 video games to play, the Dallas Cowboys might be no higher than 8-8. With a view to get there, they should win out, which given the sorry state of the division would virtually assuredly assure they win the NFC East, even after being swept by Washington.
However does that appear even remotely potential?
For a lot of, together with McCarthy, 2021 cannot get right here quick sufficient.