Cowboys Make Decision on Replacement Head Coach vs. Saints: Report

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy

The hits keep coming for the Dallas Cowboys as head coach Mike McCarthy is latest member of the franchise to test positive for COVID-19. The Cowboys announced that McCarthy will not be able to coach during the team’s upcoming Thursday Night Football matchup against the Saints but will still be involved virtually during game week. Cowboys defensive coordinator is Dan Quinn is expected to serve as the team’s on-field head coach against the Saints.

USA Today’s Jori Epstein originally noted that the team plans to utilize assistant head coach Rob Davis as the temporary replacement for McCarthy. Davis is a former NFL deep snapper and served with McCarthy as the Packers director of player engagement from 2008 to 2017. Epstein later reported that Quinn would serve as the “point person” during the Cowboys-Saints game.

“Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be the point person for the decision-making process during the Saints game on Thursday, head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon,” Epstein detailed on November 29. “Quinn, who has coached from the booth this season, will be on the field and will coordinate the defense as usual, McCarthy said.”

There had been conflicting reports as to who would serve as head coach against the Saints between Quinn and Davis. After news first broke of McCarthy’s positive test, Dallas WFAA’s Mike Leslie reported Quinn was expected to assume the role of head coach for the actual game. ESPN’s Todd Archer also explained on SportsCenter that “all signs point” to Quinn temporarily taking over the role.

Yet, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer noted that assistant head coach Rob Davis was in line to take over McCarthy’s role.

“Assistant HC Rob Davis in line to step in for McCarthy this week, with coordinators Kellen Moore, Dan Quinn and John Fassel all chipping in,” Breer tweeted on November 29.

Quinn has the most head coaching experience given his six seasons in the role with the Falcons. Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken noted that Quinn taking over the role could be problematic for his defensive responsibilities, which he will still hold against the Saints.

“Cowboys DC Dan Quinn is most experienced option on staff to handle coach Mike McCarthy’s game-day responsibilities,” Gehlken said on Twitter. “But not a simple choice. Move would disrupt Quinn’s process as play-caller who has spent entire season, including preseason, calling plays upstairs from booth.”

ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Cowboys!

Why Not Kellen Moore as the Temporary Head Coach?

The question on most Cowboys fans minds is if offensive coordinator Kellen Moore could temporarily serve as the head coach. Moore has been a popular name in head coaching rumors and would no doubt like to have some game experience in the role.

That said, the Cowboys may not be thrilled to give Moore a head coaching audition on national television, especially given he has already been generating buzz as a viable candidate when the NFL coaching carousel begins this offseason. The Cowboys would love to keep Moore as their offensive coordinator, despite the team’s recent skid.

The Cowboys Have a Total of 8 Players & Coaches in COVID Protocols

There is clearly concern that the COVID outbreak will continue to spread to other players and coaches. McCarthy marks the eighth member of the Cowboys organization that is in COVID protocols.

“Eight coaches/players in currently COVID protocols: Terence Steele, Mike McCarthy, Joe Philbin, Jeff Blasko, Scott Tolzein, Harold Nash, Kendall Smith, Cedric Smith,” ESPN’s Todd Archer detailed on Twitter. “Only Cedric Smith, assistant strength and conditioning coach, could be back by Thursday.”

The Cowboys released the following statement on McCarthy’s status and the team’s plan moving forward.

“Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has been entered into the NFL’s COVID protocols this morning,” the team statement detailed on November 29. “Although he will not be on the field for the Saints game, McCarthy will continue to direct and be involved in all meeting and game preparations on a virtual basis for the remainder of the week, including Thursday’s meetings in New Orleans. The team will conduct all of its meetings today virtually and proceed with its regularly scheduled practice sessions at 12:15 p.m.”