The Dallas Cowboys will not be playing on conference championship Sunday for the 25th consecutive season. Many seasons came closer than this one, the debut season for head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy led the Green Bay Packers to the NFC Championship game on four different occasions during his 13-year run in charge of the Packers.
McCarthy was blessed with amazing quarterback play every year of his tenure in Wisconsin, something that eventually cost him his job with Green Bay. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy enjoyed exactly 100-wins together over the course of their11-seasons as the head coach-starting quarterback combination. They were married together in a football sense, the NFL respected the success of both equally for a while, something that angered Rodgers.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback went on to say in interviews after their football marriage came to an end in 2018 that he believed McCarthy had a low football IQ. Rodgers citing the head coach’s stubbornness to change his offense.
Rodgers has won the argument every single day since the 2018 departure of McCarthy from Green Bay. Rodgers is going to his second straight NFC Championship game without McCarthy and has had 74 passing touchdowns over the past two seasons. His legacy has only grown since the public football divorce.
As for Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys …
McCarthy was expected to provide new life to the Cowboys after mediocre seasons sprinkled with rare playoff success plagued the Jason Garrett era in Big D. McCarthy took a talented team and sent it spiraling downhill. Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan brought in a system that a traditionally 4-3 defense could not pick up throughout the shortened offseason due to COVID-19.
That was the man that McCarthy brought in to stabilize a defense that had just finished 11th in scoring defense in 2019. Forget stabilizing, the defense plummeted to 28th in scoring defense in the only season Nolan had his hands on the defensive scheme.
Now for the man himself, McCarthy made questionable choices throughout the season when it came to 4th downs and various fake punts on special teams. His debut as decision-maker in Dallas featured a questionable decision to go for a 4th and 3 from the 11-yard line of the Los Angeles Rams, trailing 20-17 with 12-minutes to go in the game. That failed conversion proved to be the difference in the game.
The most questionable decision of the season came on Thanksgiving Day against the Washington Football Team. Down just four points and facing a 4th and 10 from their own 24-yard line, America’s Team decided to try to get cute with a double-reverse fake punt. It blew up in their faces and resulted in the floodgates opening for Washington, they poured on 21 straight points after that play to finish the game.
Let’s not even get into the decision not to challenge an obvious drop by New York Giants receiver Dante Pettis in Week 17.
That was playoffs or not decisions for a team that struggled to immediately overcome the injury to starting quarterback Dak Prescott. McCarthy showed flashes of connecting with his players for his trademark “watermelon smashing” routine the night before certain games, that doesn’t overcome bad decisions on fourth downs though.
McCarthy looks like he was the one carried by Rodger’s greatness for all those years, it seems even more clear ever since Rodgers has taken his Packers to back-to-back conference championship games since he left town.
As Rodgers succeeds without his former coach, it becomes more and more evidence to fire McCarthy after 2021 if 2020 is repeated again. Rodgers is not just winning the divorce, he is costing McCarthy to receive the benefit of the doubt in Dallas.