Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Comes to Surprising Conclusion on QB Coach: Report

Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

New Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is expected to take a hands-on approach with the offense, and that rendered Jon Kitna obsolete.

Per ESPN’s Ed Werder, the Cowboys are parting ways with Kitna, the team’s quarterbacks coach this season, as McCarthy continues to oust holdover members from the previous regime.

A former NFL QB who twice played for Dallas (2009-2011; 2013), Kitna joined the organization following a 2018 one-and-done head-coaching stint at Brophy College Preparatory, an all-boys high school in Phoenix. He took over for Kellen Moore following the latter’s promotion to offensive coordinator last January.

Working in tandem with — and reportedly at times in opposition to — Moore, Kitna was key in helping produce a breakout year for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw for a career-high 4,902 passing yards, one shy of tying the team’s all-time single-season record held by Tony Romo.

The Cowboys spawned the league’s top offense in yards per game (431.5) and the second-best passing attack (296.6 YPG), due in large part to the creative mind of Moore and easily digestible instruction of Kitna.

“You want to have a Barry Bonds mindset, which is he broke the record for home runs in a season,” Kitna said in November, per USA Today. “He also broke the records for walks in a season. That meant they weren’t throwing him pitches to hit. But when he hit, he hit it out of the park.

“That’s what we want to have as a quarterback: the discipline to say, ‘That’s not my pitch. Let’s check it down.’ But when it presents itself: Let’s let it rip.”

Kitna, technically still under contract, is the latest domino to fall after Dallas fired Jason Garrett and tabbed McCarthy as his successor. The former Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl-winning coach has moved swiftly in stocking the cupboard as he sees fit.

According to recent media reports, the Cowboys have hired a new defensive coordinator (Mike Nolan), special teams coordinator (John Fassel), assistant head coach/offensive line coach (Joe Philbin), and defensive line coach (Jim Tomsula).

McCarthy, likely to handle offensive play-calling duties, also hopes to keep Moore on staff while adding Texas run game coordinator Stan Drayton, who coached Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State.

Werder reported Saturday that McCarthy is retaining incumbent tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier, although his role has yet to be determined.

It’s unclear who the club is targeting to replace Kitna — if anyone. It’s possible that Moore simply slides back into his old gig, providing continuity for Prescott.

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Stephen Jones Delivers New Decision on Signing Dak

Now that the Cowboys got their coaching situation squared away, they can, and will, turn their attention to McCarthy’s new pet project.

In a radio interview with 1310 The Ticket on Friday, vice president Stephen Jones offered an update regarding once-fervent, now-slow-rolling contract discussions with Prescott, who’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18.

The sides, according to Jones, were on the precipice of an agreement before the start of the 2019 campaign. And although talks eventually crumbled, creating a nationally-documented standstill, Dallas aims to reach an accord with its “quarterback of the future” this offseason.

“We’ve got to land the plane and get his deal done,” Jones said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “That’s on Jerry and myself. He’s our future. I think he stepped up and improved in all ways last year. … We went over this in depth with Coach McCarthy and he thinks [Dak] is a top-end, top-caliber quarterback. We can do everything we want to do and more with Dak. [McCarthy] can’t wait to spend time with him. We’ve got to land the plane on his contract and get him signed up sooner than later. He deserves everything he has coming. We got real, real close there to start the season and just didn’t finish up. He’s so laser-focused on wanting to win football games and compete that he really didn’t want the distraction once we didn’t get it done in that first week of going back and forth with the contract. We just got to move forward. He’s our quarterback of the future. I’ll take him any time when you go to war against these guys. We’re fortunate to have him.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL