Mike McCarthy

Cowboys: We’re Keeping Mike McCarthy

Despite speculation about his job security, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says Mike McCarthy will “absolutely” be the head coach in 2021. In an interview with 105.3 The Fan, Jones placed more of the onus on injuries than McCarthy’s coaching. 

There will be absolutely no change with coach McCarthy, and I am surprised that someone would question Mike, these unprecedented situations that everyone’s been in on top of that,” Jones said. “No one is making excuses, but we have had some real challenges in the injury category. If you look at his track record and his pedigree, he’s consistently won year in and year out. We have the utmost confidence that this ship is going to be righted quickly, and Mike is going to be the leader of this group. He’s certainly a great head coach and I think we’re going to see that going forward. He’s a great head coach in this league, he’s accomplished a lot, and he’s going to accomplish a lot more before it’s all said and done.”

Jones’ vote of confidence comes on the heels of a morale-boosting 30-7 win over the Bengals. The competition had something to do with it, but the Dallas D gave McCarthy their best performance of the year. That definitely helps the coach’s case, but it probably won’t save defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. In his first DC role since 2014, the Cowboys D has been a total flop in 2020. The Cowboys — in the NFL’s cellar for points allowed – are expected to make some serious changes this spring, even though McCarthy will be spared.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Expected To Retain HC Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy‘s first year as the Cowboys’ head coach has not gone well, to say the least. At 3-9, Dallas is at the bottom of the awful NFC East, so it’s fair to wonder if McCarthy’s job is in jeopardy.

About a month ago, team EVP Stephen Jones adamantly shot down the notion that he could look to move on from McCarthy at season’s end, but his club has been blown out by the Washington Football Team and the Ravens over the past two weeks, performances that have engendered plenty of conversation about the Cowboys’ effort and heart.

Nonetheless, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network hears that McCarthy will indeed be retained for the 2021 season (video link). After all, it would be difficult for any head coach to overcome the loss of his starting quarterback and the complete decimation of his offensive line, and while the uninspired play is cause for concern, it’s generally advisable to give a HC at least two years to get things moving in the right direction.

But even if McCarthy’s job is safe, there could be major changes on the way. One team source told Rapoport that “something has to change,” and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan could be on the outs. Nolan spent his last few seasons in the league as a linebackers coach and had not been in charge of a defense since 2014, when he wrapped up a three-year stint as the Falcons’ DC. His return to the coordinator ranks has been a disaster, as the Cowboys are near the bottom of the league in total defense and dead last in points allowed per game.

Nolan, 61, has a ton of experience, having served as a defensive coordinator with eight different franchises and as the 49ers’ head coach from 2005-08. But two of his terms as DC lasted just one year — the Jets in 2000 and the Broncos in 2009 — and it looks like the Cowboys will be the third team on that list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, McCarthy, Dalton

The Cowboys are in the midst of a truly disastrous campaign, entering their bye week at a pitiful 2-7. Just about everything that could’ve gone wrong has gone wrong, including a devastating injury to quarterback Dak Prescott. Team EVP Stephen Jones spoke to the media today, and fortunately he had some positive news about Prescott. Jones revealed the signal-caller had avoided any infections in his leg, a distinct and scary possibility with any compound fracture, like we saw with Alex Smith. Jones also declared that Prescott was “ahead of schedule” in his recovery.

That’s all fantastic news, and of course all of us here at PFR continue to hope that’s the case. As for the future, Jones was asked about the possibility of the Cowboys drafting one of this class’ top quarterbacks assuming Dallas has an early pick, which looks likely at this point. Jerry’s son shot down any such speculation, reiterating that “Dak’s our quarterback” and saying “we’re fired up about our future with Dak.” Prescott is of course set to be an unrestricted free agent, and his contract situation is arguably the biggest story of the rapidly approaching NFL offseason.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Speaking of shooting down speculation, Jones clearly wanted to tamp down any talk about Mike McCarthy’s job security. “Absolutely. Unequivocal,” Jones responded when asked whether McCarthy will definitely be back as the team’s head coach in 2021. When he was hired it would’ve been hard to imagine he could be a one and done, but there have already been reports of dysfunction in the locker room and McCarthy potentially losing the team. The Jones family has been steadfast in their commitment to him however, and this is about as firm as one can get.
  • Former AAF star Garrett Gilbert came off the bench as the Cowboys’ fourth starter at quarterback this season and almost led them to an improbable upset over the Steelers Sunday, but it doesn’t sound like he’s on the verge of getting the full-time starting job. “When he’s cleared, we fully expect him to step in as our starter,” Jones said of Andy Dalton, who has been dealing with a concussion as well as COVID-19. Dalton struggled mightily through one and a half games before getting hurt, and since the team has no real long-term commitment to him it wouldn’t be surprising if they went back to Gilbert before too long if Dalton plays poorly again out of the bye. Gilbert didn’t exactly light it up, but he moved the offense competently against one of the best defenses in the league. For his part, Jones insisted the team still feels like they’ve got a shot to win the lowly NFC East.

NFC East Notes: McCarthy, Eagles, Barkley

The Cowboys have spent this week clearing out some 2020 acquisitions, trading Everson Griffen and cutting Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley. Mike McCarthy does not currently have to worry about being a one-and-done coach. Jerry Jones expressed support for his 2020 HC hire, despite the team’s disappointing start.

One of the, without a question, reasons Mike McCarthy is the coach is because he’s been through it,” Jones said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via the Dallas Morning News). “… Certainly, we couldn’t have anticipated being at this stage with our team this year. But if I were going to hire for a head coach, that we’re going to be at this stage this year and work through this for the betterment of what’s in store for us for the rest of the year and for what’s for us in the future, I got my man.”

McCarthy has kept Kellen Moore as his play-caller and hired Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator. While the Cowboys’ offense was surging with Dak Prescott, it has cratered without him. Dallas’ defense ranks 30th in DVOA. Jones retained Jason Garrett for nearly 10 full seasons and has given all but one coach (Chan Gailey) at least three full seasons. Considering McCarthy’s Super Bowl-winning pedigree, it would be shocking if Jones ousts him after one season.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles are currently down four offensive linemen, each of their three top receivers, their top two tight ends and Miles Sanders. But they are, despite being 2-4-1, in first place in the NFC East. A Jay Glazer report prior to the Eagles’ Week 7 win indicated they told teams they would listen to offers for their best players, but ex-Eagles president Joe Banner said (via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Domowitch) Philly is interested in acquiring offensive line and linebacker help. The Eagles have been buyers in trades for years, and Ertz’s ankle injury halted trade talks. Despite the Eagles projected to be nearly $70MM over the 2021 cap, they may again be ready to acquire veterans.
  • On the subject of Eagles veterans, the news is not good for DeSean Jackson. Calling it a similar injury to Dallas Goedert‘s, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo said Jackson suffered a non-displaced ankle fracture and is expected to miss between six and eight weeks (video link). The 33-year-old deep threat has missed 16 games since returning to Philadelphia and looms as a near-certain 2021 cap cut, but Garafolo adds D-Jax does not intend to retire after this season.
  • Saquon Barkley‘s ACL reconstructive surgery is set for Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Interestingly, the World Series delayed the Giants running back’s procedure. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the operation, but since he is also the Dodgers’ team doctor, he was in the final MLB bubble and off-limits until the Series’ conclusion, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. No word has emerged regarding if Barkley’s surgery will need to be further tabled because of Justin Turner’s positive COVID-19 test. Barkley suffered the injury Sept. 20. Despite this delay, doctors are hopeful he will be ready for training camp, NFL.com’s Andrea Kremer tweets.
  • Washington first-year HC Ron Rivera finished up his chemotherapy and proton therapy treatments Monday. While he still has follow-up appointments on tap, per ESPN.com’s John Keim, this marks a major development in the veteran coach’s recovery from lymph node cancer.

Cowboys Notes: Coaches, Knight, Martin

After getting blown out by the Cardinals last night and falling to 2-4, it sounds like some of the players are starting to point fingers at the coaching staff. Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets that “discontent is leaking out” of the Cowboys locker room, with one player stating that the coaches “just aren’t good at their jobs”

“Totally unprepared,” another player said of the coaching staff. “They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.”

Meanwhile, head coach Mike McCarthy indicated to reporters that instead of leaking these qualms to the media, he’d rather keep those types of conversations in house.

“I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I’ve always stated that…it’s important to handle things as men,” McCarthy said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “I mean, if you do have something to say publicly that is of most important, I think it’s important to say it to the individual, or particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. I mean, that’s all part of the development our program, of the system that we’ve got going here. I think that’s just part of our flight right now. We don’t like the way we played last night. We had some areas that we struggled strong in. It’s definitely not what we’re looking for.”

Some more notes out of Dallas:

  • McCarthy also told reporters that left tackle Brandon Knight suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News on Twitter). The lineman is expected to miss the next few games. Knight found himself with a starting gig following a season-ending injury to Tyron Smith, and he’s started four of the Cowboys’ six games. While a replacement hasn’t been named, Gehlken notes that Cameron Erving, who is sitting on IR, could be an option.
  • ESPN’s Todd Archer tweets that Zack Martin suffered a concussion and is questionable for Sunday. The team isn’t expected to receive any clarity on the veteran until the end of the week. Martin has only missed a pair of regular season games since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014.
  • McCarthy doesn’t believe his team has improved much through the first six weeks of the season. “Have we improved?” McCarthy asked (via Gehlken on Twitter). “From an analytical standpoint, when I look at trend lines and some of the things that we’re focused on…. no, our trend line is not pointing in the right direction” Sorry, Cowboys fans.

Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Doesn’t Want Earl Thomas?

Jerry Jones is still on board, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is less-than-enthusiastic about the prospect of signing Earl Thomas, Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears. McCarthy, who places a major emphasis on locker room culture, is concerned about the veteran safety’s fit in Dallas.

Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, left his past two clubs on bad terms. As one league source told Werder, “Contact anyone you know with the Ravens or the Seahawks and ask if the positives outweigh the negatives.” In Seattle, Thomas literally left the team with an extended middle finger as he was carted off of the field. In Baltimore, Thomas failed to grasp the playbook in his first year and wore out his welcome last week when he got into an altercation with a teammate.

Still, the final decision ultimately lies with Jones, who has made no secret of his fondness for the safety. Thomas has reciprocated, on several occasions through multiple channels. Thomas might not be the prototypical team player, but his potential as a game-changer is undeniable. Thomas has spent the bulk of his career as one of the NFL’s very best safeties, resulting in 713 tackles and 30 interceptions over the course of his career.

For now, the Cowboys are set to start the season with new addition Ha Ha Clinton-DixXavier Woods, and Darian Thompson as the leaders of the group.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy On Aldon Smith

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy spoke about new acquisition Aldon Smith today, and it’s no surprise to hear that both men are optimistic about where Smith is in his bid to be reinstated by the league.

Dallas, of course, shocked the football world when it agreed to sign Smith earlier this month. Though the move seemed to come from out of left field, we soon learned that Smith — who was in the process of applying for reinstatement in March — has been sober for nine months and that the Broncos were also interested in his services. The new CBA does not make reinstatement any easier for indefinitely suspended players like Smith, but Jones and McCarthy are clearly hopeful that the 30-year-old will be cleared to return in short order.

“I would say first-hand that I know that [Smith] is very diligent in his work to do the things the NFL looks at to reinstate,” Jones said (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I wouldn’t dare get into where the league is and how they will go about this process … [but] as a league, we really are bent toward the medical aspect of many of these problems or many of these things that have been in consideration when a player has to have some type of suspension. We’ve made it more medically oriented to where you can have good grades from doctors, and that weighs into being a player in the NFL.”

McCarthy, who first met Smith in December, talks about his initial impressions of the former 49ers star. “I was very impressed with everything that he’s done and his path,” McCarthy said. “I’ve always admired him from afar. Very impressive young man, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Smith’s contract represents a low-risk, high-reward gambit for the Cowboys. Though he has not played in an NFL game since the 2015 campaign, he recorded an incredible 42 sacks in his first 43 games in the league, and if he can earn reinstatement and work himself into game shape by the start of the regular season, he could become a key part of Dallas’ pass rush.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Coaching Turner, Peetz, Linguist, Harris,Whitted

Norv Turner will not be returning to the Panthers coaching staff, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Turner had served as a special assistant to former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Rivera, of course, was recently replaced by Matt Rhule and has since taken over in Washington. While nothing has been reported, it would not be a surprise to see Turner follow Rivera to the nation’s capital to work with young quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

At the same time, Carolina blocked running backs coach Jake Peetz from interviewing for other positions, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer adds that Rivera wanted to take Peetz with him, but Carolina general manager Marty Hurney valued Peetz and the team decided to reward him with a promotion to quarterbacks coach.

Here’s some more notes from coaching staff’s around the NFC:

  • The Cowboys hired Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Maurice Linguist to serve as the team’s defensive backs coach alongside Al Harris. Linguist did not have a history with either head coach Mike McCarthy or defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but his personality impressed the pair so much that they offered him the job on the same day of his interview, according to Dallas Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper. Harris had been an assistant with Kansas City, but more notably, played under McCarthy during his tenure in Green Bay at cornerback.
  • Harris’ former team will be making a change at wide receivers coach. According Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the Packers have let Alvis Whitted go and have begun the process of searching for his replacement. Whitted was hired just a year ago to join Matt LaFleur’s staff, but it appears LaFleur will be going in a different direction.

Cowboys Hire Scott McCurley As LBs Coach

The new Cowboys full coaching staff under Mike McCarthy was announced earlier this week. While our Pro Football Rumors reported the majority of the hirings earlier this week, we realized we had forgotten to mention that Scott McCurley had become the teams new linebackers coach, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic.

McCurley worked under McCarthy during his Green Bay tenure, serving as a defensive quality control coach from 2009-2014, then as the assistant linebackers coach from 2014-2017, and as a defensive assistant from 2017-2019.

The Cowboys roster will likely take a significantly different form given the impending free agencies of Dak Prescott, Byron Jones, and Amari Cooper. McCurley fills out a very experienced coaching staff assigned with bringing a Dallas roster full of elite talent, especially on the offensive end, to the next level. While McCurley will get to work with a group headlined by the talented duo of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch and veteran Sean Lee.