Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy Placed on Hot Seat for 2021 Season

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Getty Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with head coach Mike McCarthy.

The honeymoon is over. Scholarship removed. Mulligan used.

It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, who finds himself among five NFL team leaders on the hot seat entering the 2021 offseason, according to Bleacher Report.

Via columnist Chris Roling:

McCarthy got off on the wrong foot with a 6-10 showing in an NFC East that sent a seven-win team to the playoffs. But it was easy to see that he would get a pass because Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury in his fifth start.

Before that, Prescott was on pace for a historic statistical season, completing 68 percent of his 222 pass attempts for 1,856 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Backup Andy Dalton, despite being one of the better reserves in the league, had just 2,170 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight picks over 11 games.

Even more concerning was a defense that was on a negatively historic pace and should see dramatic changes this offseason.

McCarthy should have an improved defense (at least on paper), a healthy Prescott and a healthier offensive line in 2021, provided the front office manages the offseason wisely and extends its star passer. But it’s easy to think Jones and Co. won’t be as patient this time around after splurging on a win-now core while losing players such as cornerback Byron Jones because of cap constraints.

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McCarthy indeed was dealt a particularly poor hand in his season with the Cowboys — from the pandemic that spoiled valuable offseason reps to catastrophic injuries that irreparably maimed the team’s competitive chances. But there were times when the former Packers’ Super Bowl-winning coach left much to be desired.

Swirling rumors surrounding McCarthy’s job security and future as the Cowboys’ leader of men peaked after Thanksgiving’s listless loss to Washington, intensified the following week in another blowout defeat, then grew quiet amid the team’s late-season three-game winning streak, which temporarily kept them alive for the NFC East. And drew an emotional backing from owner Jerry Jones.

“Not one time have I been in any discussion, had any dream, or given a thought to anything but Mike McCarthy being our head coach next year, and being our coach of the future,” Jones said in December on 105.3 The Fan. “How in the hell something like that could get going in a conversation with Stephen (Jones) or anybody else about whether McCarthy is going to be the coach or not is ridiculous.”

Despite Dallas’ Week 17 collapse, McCarthy weathered enough to warrant a mulligan. The Cowboys will run it back in 2021 hoping Prescott’s return and upgraded defensive coaching carry a win-now roster into the playoffs, and perhaps beyond. If not, and the team is half as uninspiring as it was in 2020, McCarthy could very well be sent packing. Undying loyalty and patience are reserved only for Jason Garrett.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL