The Dallas Cowboys face the most important year of the Mike McCarthy era in 2022.
The veteran head coach was hired prior to the start of the 2020 season and was given a pass as the team missed the playoffs during his first year. His second season in Dallas saw more success as the Cowboys clinched the NFC East behind the strong play of Dak Prescott and a revamped defensive unit.
However, all of those positive vibes fell to the wayside when the Cowboys lost in the opening round of the playoffs to their longtime rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. The defeat was all the more painful due to the fact that the Cowboys were not only the higher seed, they lost the game as time ticked off when Prescott attempted to spike the ball to run one more play.
The playoff loss marked yet another quick exit from the postseason: The Cowboys’ seventh one-and-done playoff performance in their last 10 postseason appearances.
As McCarthy enters his third season, it’ll be a make-or-break campaign, and according to one NFL radio host, it was a mistake to hire McCarthy in the first place.
Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show” weekday mornings on CBS Sports Radio from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. ET and joined Heavy ahead of the 2022 Super Bowl to preview the big game and some top NFL offseason storylines.
“It would be unfair to say the Cowboys made a mistake holding on to Mike McCarthy,” Amendolara told Heavy. They made a mistake hiring Mike McCarthy. They should’ve never hired this bozo. … I don’t think they should’ve kept Mike McCarthy around. Not surprising though because Jerry Jones is loyal to his guys. I think he’s loyal to Mike McCarthy.”
“I think next year clearly if they stumble again, McCarthy is out the door I would imagine.”
McCarthy Has to Win in the Playoffs
McCarthy was a bit of a questionable hire when he was brought in two years prior. In his two years since taking over the Cowboys, he hasn’t exactly proven critics wrong. One of the reasons Jason Garrett was fired after 10 years as the team’s head coach was his inability to get over the hump in the playoffs.
In McCarthy’s first season, Dallas missed the postseason despite playing in the worst division in the NFL. The Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record. The Cowboys’ defensive unit also just so happened to set a franchise record by allowing 473 points, 37 more than the previous record.
If the Cowboys can’t at least make strides and win a playoff game or two, it’s hard to envision Jerry Jones bringing back McCarthy for a fourth season.
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Amendolara Questions If Prescott Is the ‘Right Guy’
McCarthy isn’t the only one on the hot seat entering the 2022 season. While Prescott did make a successful return from a severe right ankle injury that washed away his 2020 season, he still came up short in the playoffs again.
In six seasons as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, Prescott has led the team to three playoff appearances. However, he has just one win to show for it. His performance in Dallas’ 23-17 loss wasn’t exactly a strong one. The 28-year-old completed just 53.5% of his passes for a 69.3 quarterback rating and 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
By comparison, his regular season numbers were as follows: 66.6% completion rate, 98.7 quarterback rating and 7.6 yards per pass attempt.
Amendolara believes despite Prescott’s new contract from last year, there are major questions on whether or not he’s the “right guy.”
“I don’t know about Dak. … I really like Dak, there’s a lot of reasons to like Dak, but if you keep coming up small in the playoffs, it begs the right question: Are you the right guy? And I wonder if Dak is a little different after that (ankle) injury. This year he was productive but he wasn’t his explosive self. If it’s confidence, you can build that back. If it’s physical limitations because of the ankle, that’s where I worry,” Amendolara told Heavy.
There’s no doubt that Prescott is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. The sixth-year quarterback threw for a career-high 37 touchdowns on a 68.8% completion rate, both career-highs. But if you can’t lead a team — especially one that’s expected to win a Super Bowl — deep into the postseason, those regular season numbers are meaningless.
Once again, all eyes will be on the Cowboys entering the 2022 season.