The Dallas Cowboys recently completed their search for a new head coach, hiring Mike McCarthy. After years of watching Jason Garrett toil away with disappointing seasons, the team is moving in a new direction with the former Green Bay Packers’ coach. McCarthy has an impressive resume, but there’s one reason in particular why he’s a terrible fit in for the Dallas Cowboys.
Mike McCarthy’s career results
McCarthy coached 13 years in Green Bay before being fired last season. His win-loss record was 125-77. He won a Super Bowl in 2010 behind the arm of Aaron Rodgers. That Super Bowl win is McCarthy’s crowning achievement. He also had a 10-8 record in 18 playoff games, leading the Packers to nine playoff appearances.
McCarthy has always been known as an offensive-minded coach. In his 13 seasons as coach of the Packers, his offenses ranked in the top 10 seven times. That’s no easy achievement, but McCarthy also had his share of mistakes in Green Bay, too.
McCarthy’s shortcomings in Green Bay
According to one piece in USA Today, McCarthy’s major issue, whether coaching in Green Bay or Dallas, is that he can’t manage games well:
“His in-game management was a disaster. People called him conservative, but I wouldn’t even call him that — he just looked confused most of the time. I know how hectic a game sideline can be, how many moving parts there are, and I’m not asking every coach to be able to quickly run a down-and-distance win-probability analysis to make the right call every time.”
Towards the end of McCarthy’s run in Green Bay, he seemed to feud with Rodgers. The Packers went 7-9 in 2017 and 4-7-1 in 2018 before McCarthy received the ax in week 13. His discord with Rodgers probably led to his eventual ouster, along with the team’s lack of performance in his final season.
One other shortcoming for McCarthy is that it’s difficult to gauge how good he really was as a coach due to Rodgers’ excellence. It’s hard to blame McCarthy for this, but Rodgers was so prolific as a passer that it’s difficult to imagine any coach having a hard time being consistently successful with him under center.
Why Mike McCarthy isn’t a great fit in Dallas
The piece also points out that McCarthy said he’s used his year out of the league to study all the other teams as well as considering analytic data. This may be an attempt by McCarthy to not seem out of date. He doesn’t add any additional insight into how the analytics will play a role in his coaching, or what he plans to change. He simply threw out a buzzword.
McCarthy stated that his use of analytics during his time in Green Bay was “average at best.” The issue is that using analytics, in and of itself, isn’t quite enough to be successful. You have to know what to do with the data and how to process it. If McCarthy has just begun looking at analytics, it means he has a long way to go to figure out how to process the data. A better solution would be to surround himself with other people who do — but assembling a staff like that takes time.
The truth is that while McCarthy has a Super Bowl on his resume, he struggled mightily at times during his tenure in Green Bay. The Cowboys are looking to head in a new, exciting direction. McCarthy represents more of the same. The Cowboys moved on from Garrett because they wanted a dynamic change at head coach. McCarthy has his strengths to be sure, but the fact that he’s appeared overwhelmed so often on the sidelines means he may be out of his element in Dallas. Expect this experiment to fail.