Actually, “we” don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting on the subject. The Thanksgiving story began with even more injuries on the offensive line – a development long forgotten by the fourth quarter – but ended with McCarthy getting roasted. Media reacted in force following the Cowboys’ farcical collapse that legitimately calls into question whether McCarthy stands a chance of returning to the sideline in 2021.
The fake punt killed the Dallas Cowboys
When the obituary is written on Mike McCarthy’s coaching career with the Dallas Cowboys – and perhaps his NFL career, period – people will point to the fake punt he called early in the fourth quarter with Dallas trailing the Washington Football Team, 20-16.
Facing fourth-and-10 at their own 24, McCarthy called for one of the worst fake punts in recent memory. The snap went to one of the upbacks, who started to his left and then flipped to gunner Cedrick Wilson on a reverse.
Wilson took the ball at the Dallas 13, but his momentum as he picked up speed carried the third-year receiver back to the 10 – which meant he had 24 yards to go to move the chains. By the time he reached the 15, Wilson realized that he wasn’t going to beat the outside containment. He turned the play inside and was stuffed for a loss of a yard.
On the next play, Washington running back Antonio Gibson scampered 24 yards for a touchdown that made it a two-score game. That would be all Washington needed, but Gibson tacked on a 37-yard touchdown run on the next possession, and Montez Sweat recorded a pick-six to cap off a 41-16 win.
As a result, the Washington Football Team sits alone atop the anemic NFC East, and Jerry Jones is saddled with a tough decision about Mike McCarthy and the direction of the Cowboys.
The media had a field day with Mike McCarthy
Ed Werder worked for ESPN from 1998-2017 and returned in 2019 as a Dallas-based reporter and analyst for the cable network. Before ESPN, he worked a series of newspaper jobs, wrote for Sports Illustrated, and covered football for CNNSI. In 2017, the Professional Football Writers of America honored him with the Dick McCann Award, presented annually in recognition of long and distinguished reporting.
To say that he is typically mild-mannered in his analysis would be an understatement. In an industry chock full of hyperbole and ready-fire-aim commentators, Werder is known for picking his words carefully. But he was thinking pretty much what a lot of Cowboys fans were thinking during the loss to the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving:
“I cannot recall a great number of bewildering coaching decisions in a game where Mike McCarthy’s team is playing a close game with first place in the division on the line,” Werder tweeted.
Other comments were even more blunt
It’s tough to tell what constitutes hitting rock bottom in the football business. But being slammed on social media by a guy who had to hand back his Heisman Trophy following a scandal and fell asleep in the studio during a game this fall must mean you’re getting close.
“Mike McCarthy is hot garbage,” commented Reggie Bush, the former USC and NFL running back who now covers football for Fox Sports.
Bush was only slightly more diplomatic when asked by a Twitter follower to assess the relative merits of McCarthy vs. Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia.
“If I’m on either one of those teams I’m asking for a trade after the season,” Bush responded.
Retired quarterback Kurt Warner, who works for the NFL Network and Westwood One Radio, also shared his thoughts on Twitter:
“I have NO idea what @dallascoyboys are doing in this game??? How many coaching mistakes in a close game can u make b4 u can’t get back into it??”