Mike McCarthy Reveals Why Cowboys Dumped Brandon Carr Following Loss

Brandon Carr

Getty Brandon Carr

Brandon Carr’s second stint in Dallas came to an unceremonious end through little fault of Carr himself.

The veteran defensive back was released by the Cowboys on Tuesday, two days after the defense was brutalized in a 49-38 defeat to the Cleveland Browns. His was the only shoe to drop despite calls for coordinator Mike Nolan’s ouster and the removal of multiple starters.

But Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy refuted the whipping-boy angle of Carr’s departure, owing instead to the number’s game.

“We feel good about (cornerback Anthony Brown) coming back and as far as some other young guys, so it’s just part of our roster management,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday, via the Dallas Morning News.

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Carr, who originally donned the silver and blue from 2012-16, re-joined the organization on Sept. 7, signing to the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster prior to Dallas’ season-opening defeat against the Rams.

Carr was expected to contribute at safety following a training camp injury to Xavier Woods and the departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. But a rash of health issues at cornerback — Jourdan Lewis missed the opener and Brown (ribs) and Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) remain on injured reserve — forced the 34-year-old to the boundary.

Despite facing some of the league’s best passing attacks, Carr rarely saw playing time in either spot. He logged 17 defensive snaps in Week 2, three in Week 3, and, most puzzlingly, just one in Week 4. Tellingly, it was Donovan Wilson, not Carr, who replaced benched S Darian Thompson versus Cleveland.

The Cowboys will roll onward with Lewis, Trevon Diggs, Daryl Worley, CJ Goodwin, and Saivion Smith comprising the CB corps. Brown is eligible to return from IR this week, and he’s seemingly inching closer to activation, participating in individual drills during Wednesday’s practice.

After chopping Carr, the team made no additional roster moves nor coaching changes to an abominable defense that’s allowing 36.5 points per game and ranks 31st against the run and 30th in total yards. Its secondary ranks 23rd overall, surrendering 258.0 yards per game to opposing passers.

“We just have to be better. We have to go to work. Now’s not the time to think about things like that,” Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan. “I’m very convicted about this staff. I’m very convicted about this team. But right now we’re not playing winning football.”

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Woods Admits to Lacking Effort

With Carr gone, the Cowboys’ safety group is whittled down to Thompson, Wilson, starter Xavier Woods, and rookie Reggie Robinson — the group partly responsible for socially-distanced coverage. But they can’t be held accountable, Woods argued.

In a mystifying admission following last Sunday’s eye-opening loss, he copped to “a lack” of effort and argued it’s “not possible” to go “full speed” every snap, every game.

“Our effort’s been good. I mean on certain plays some guys, I mean me included, there may be a lack but overall the effort is there,” Woods said Wednesday on 105.3 The Fan. “I mean you don’t expect, we’re in the NFL, you don’t expect guys (to go) full speed for 70 plays. That’s not possible. We’re going to push as hard as we can. You don’t expect a backside corner to make a play on the opposite side. (If) he’s running full speed the whole time it’s just not possible to be honest.”

McCarthy and Nolan both affirmed this week they don’t believe the Cowboys have an effort issue. At the same time, Woods’ likeminded counterparts are supporting, if not encouraging, his wide-reaching rhetoric.

“X understands that we need to get our standard right. We’ve got to be better and we will be better,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said Thursday, via ESPN’s Ed Werder.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL