Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy met this week to discuss the future of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones, the team owner, didn’t simply express his confidence in head coach McCarthy’s ability to win in 2023. Jones invoked the name of Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry, to express his desire to team up with McCarthy for years to come.
«As far as my relationship with Jerry, just using his words, we’re in a great position,» McCarthy said Thursday at a season-ending press conference. “The partnership we have, he is excited. He told me several times this week that he wanted me to coach here as long as Coach Landry did.
«And I said, ‘OK, it’s been a long time.'»
Landry coached the Cowboys for 29 years.
Hyperbole and joking aside, McCarthy indicated that Jones’ vision for his immediate future is clear.
The head coach was unwilling to give a similar public vote of confidence to his offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore.
Moore interviewed the Carolina Panthers this week for a vacant head coaching position for which the franchise finally hired Frank Reich on Thursday.
Moore’s most publicized potential alternate landing spot wasn’t on the table before McCarthy stepped onto the podium. So if Moore is available, will he be the Cowboys coordinator next season?
«My evaluation process is still ongoing,» McCarthy said. “I really don’t want to play this game today. It has been long days. Kellen Moore, like the rest of the coaches, will be evaluated. Each coach will be evaluated. The assessment takes more than a day.
«We will continue to talk and I hope to be able to meet Kellen tomorrow.»
6 helpers dropped
Moore was not part of the first wave of Cowboys coaches whose contracts were not renewed.
Running backs coach Skip Peete, offensive line coach Joe Philbin and quality control analysis coach Kyle Valero will not join the team’s offensive staff. Senior defensive assistant George Edwards, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett and assistant head coach Rob Davis were also not selected.
McCarthy announced the changes in a statement Friday before addressing them publicly. He said the decisions were as much philosophical about the design and composition of his team as they were about individual performance. Clarification of roles for 2023 will be a priority.
Could McCarthy return to the call-to-play duties he held as head coach of the Green Bay Packers in a reshuffle?
«Excellent creativity in asking myself the question I’ve already answered,» McCarthy said. “Just start the assessment. I’m not calling games this week. I think we clearly had things lying where I was very confident in how the offense would not only be called up, but the game plans were being worked out and so on. I get the result, and it is because of the result that I have to answer these questions. Every coach, including myself, is evaluated.
How to Fix Dak Prescott’s Recent Problems
The No. 1 question for the Cowboys offense is how to eliminate turnovers, particularly the league-leading number of interceptions that quarterback Dak Prescott posted in his seventh season. Prescott has been inconsistent in the campaign, including in the playoffs. His regular season finale generated a lean passing efficiency rating of 45.8; his spectacular performance of five error-free touchdowns in a wildcard win over the Buccaneers hit a near-perfect 143.3 rating.
Then two costly interceptions and futile line-play drives brought him down to a 63.6 outing in a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round on Sunday.
The Cowboys need to figure out the keys to Prescott’s effectiveness, from the consistency of his footwork and mechanics to the confidence with which he diagnoses covers and lines up reads with his weapons.
McCarthy cited Prescott’s production and games with a completion percentage over 70 as factors offsetting his interceptions. Prescott completed at least 70% of his passes in eight of 16 (50%) games last season; he’s completed at least 70% in eight of 14 (57%) this season.
The Cowboys ranked fourth in scoring this season, more in the 12 regular season games Prescott has appeared in than the five he missed while rehabilitating from a Week 1 broken thumb. .
The Cowboys know they need to better bolster Prescott’s receiving corps after a season in which CeeDee Lamb emerged as a true No. 1 option, but the Cowboys received below-expectation contributions from the third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert as well as veteran Michael Gallup, who was less than a year out of a torn ACL.
«I think when you take a step back and take the emotion out of how our season ended, there’s an incredible amount of productivity there,» McCarthy said. “The achievements, the decisions. Turnovers are obviously the huge negative there. … We will certainly continue to try to develop our attack. There is no question.
«Let’s not be blind to the fact that this has been an extremely effective and productive offense over the past two years.»
On the defensive end of the ball, the Cowboys are in great shape. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn determined Thursday that he would return for a third season in Dallas despite interviews with head coaches from three franchises. Dallas led the league in takeouts for the second straight season and moved from seventh place in defense to fourth place.
The Cowboys defense arguably performed well enough in the Divisional Round game to advance, while the offense crumbled.
McCarthy knows he and his team have yet to reach the expected standard in the playoffs. Coach Jones compared it to two Super Bowl victories in Dallas. McCarthy won a championship in Green Bay, but has yet to deliver the ultimate prize in Dallas.
He knows. And he wants fans to know he knows.
«We are all as disappointed as our fans,» McCarthy said. “But I’ll tell you this: from the moment I left the pitch, I started thinking about changes to adjust and accentuate.
«Please have faith and be clear that we are going to do whatever it takes to get this trophy.»
Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein