‘I know how to win.’ Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy isn’t worried about his job

·3 min read
Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy readily admits that his team grossly underachieved in the 2021 season.

A sweet 12-5 regular season came to a bitter end in a frustrating 23-17 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC wild card game last Sunday.

He said the Cowboys were nervous to start the game and were mistake-prone throughout. They then combusted in the waning seconds as time literally expired on a final play that McCarthy still can’t fully explain.

But while questions continue to abound about his job status for 2022, McCarthy is heading into the offseason projecting confidence.

He said he has talked to team owner Jerry Jones and they have had very positive conversations with focus being on player evaluations. In his mind, his job security is a non-issue.

But more importantly, he has no doubt he is still the right man for the job two seasons into his tenure in Dallas, and doesn’t put a lot into the speculation about his future.

“I know what I put into this,” McCarthy said. “I know how to win. I know how to win in this league. I know how to win playoff games. I know how to win the championships. I have great confidence in that. What we built here in two seasons. I feel good about that. You stay true to that.”

McCarthy was brought to Dallas because of his history of playoff success with the Green Bay Packers, which included a Super Bowl title following the 2010 season. But he was fired during a bad 2018 season, was of the league in 2019 and so he hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016.

The Cowboys have just three playoff wins since 1995 and have not had back-to-back winning and playoff seasons since 2006 and 2007. And although the team bounced back from a 6-10 mark in 2020 to win the NFC East title, no one is satisfied.

“We want to build on what we have accomplished, particularly from last year to this year,” McCarthy said. “But no doubt, we did not reach our goal. That is clear.”

Now the Cowboys are heading into an offseason in which they could lose their offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, both of whom have had multiple interviews for head coaching jobs. And they also must navigate the futures of 21 players who are about to become free agents.

So how does he sell to a frustrated and angry fan base that the Cowboys will not only be better in 2022, but be good enough to finally take the next step in the playoffs and truly contend for championship?

“We’re going to be better,” McCarthy said. “That’s what we focus on. We’re not here to go backward. I think that’s part of the challenge. Sustaining success is the biggest challenge in this league. I think history will point to that. To do it every year, to be in position, that’s a huge challenge. I think the culture that’s been created, we have an incredible foundation to build off of and prepare to take the run the next year.”

McCarthy is looking forward to a full offseason with quarterback Dak Prescott for the first since coming to Dallas. Prescott held out a contract dispute before the 2020 season and then spent last offseason recovering from a fractured ankle.

A big focus off season will be on addressing the penalties and being accountable for the team’s lack of discipline. The Cowboys, who were the most penalized team in the league in 2021, were flagged 14 times in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.

“Our No. 1 focus moving forward is the penalties,” McCarthy said. “It’s way too many. There is no excuse for it. That’s been a focus all year. We’ve been talking, we’ve been coaching penalties since Week One. It’s something, particularly the holding and the pre-snap penalties, those are something that jump off the charts. We definitely, definitely need to be much better. Make no bones about it.”

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