This biggest news and drama of the NFL season came to a close Monday morning when speculations started to leak that Mike McCarthy was going to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
No matter what move they made, Cowboy fans were going to find a way to be upset about the hire. It was a prolonged experience since the Week 17 victory against the Washington Redskins, but it is finally over.
No search is going to be perfect, especially after not making a move after nearly a decade. The Cowboys did a few things correctly but fumbled on other decisions. Either way, they have their man to lead them towards success throughout the next five years.
Here are 6 things the Cowboys did right and wrong during the coaching search.
Hiring Mike McCarthy was RIGHT
It may not be the flashiest or sexiest name the Cowboys could have hired, but it is a solid hire for the Cowboys. The complaints have been that he is just a slightly better Jason Garrett. If that turns out to be true, the consistent 9-7/8-8 will turn into a consistent 10-6/11-5. Most years, if not all years (especially in the NFC East), that will get you into the playoffs.
Once in the playoffs, anything can happen, especially with somebody like McCarthy. Not only does he have a decent playoff record, but he has won a Super Bowl. He knows what it takes to get past the NFC Divisional Round and not only appear in an NFC Championship game, but win it.
At the end of the day, as long as the head coach was anybody but Garrett, it would have been considered a good hire for Dallas. McCarthy is a ‘win now’ hire for the Cowboys. If they were to go down the line and get somebody with less experience and had a slight learning curve, it may have taken longer for things to develop. With this hire, Dallas can go into 2020 with high expectations and expect to win.
Making the decision after one day was WRONG
It is sort of mind-boggling that it took Jerry and Stephen Jones a longer amount of time to publicly let Garrett go than it did to announce the Mike McCarthy move. After having the same coach for one decade, you would think they would take their time and weigh all of their options. While McCarthy may turn out to be the right hire, the Cowboys will never know if there was somebody out there better for them.
Yes, other teams like the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and Cleveland Browns are also hiring coaches and may have the same targets. However, this is the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL world would have waited for them to make their decision before any other team made a move. If the Cowboys had waited a couple more days and gotten a few more interviews in, they could have found someone more suited for the job.
Keeping Kellen Moore was RIGHT
Hiring an offensive coach like McCarthy always brings questions up about what the offensive staff and specifically what the offensive coordinator will look like going forward. According to reports, it looks like McCarthy will keep offensive coordinator Kellen Moore on his staff. While it has not been decided who will call plays, keeping Moore is the right decision for the Cowboys going forward.
The two may have different styles of offense, but that does not mean one way is correct and the other is incorrect. McCarthy and Moore should be able to work together and find a good balance of their two schemes that will work best for this team. Learning off of each other will open new ideas and more opportunities for Dak Prescott and company.
Already considered one of the best offenses in the NFL, if McCarthy and Moore can work together, the offense will only continue to grow.
Not interviewing college coaches was WRONG
Specifically, Lincoln Riley, not interviewing a coach from the college ranks was a bad decision from the Joneses. While they may not have the best track record of fully working in the league (Chip Kelly, John McKay, Steve Spurrier), this would have been different. The most recent college to NFL hire was Kliff Kingsbury from Texas Tech/USC to the Arizona Cardinals. It has worked out decently so far as the offense with Kyler Murray has taken a huge jump.
The college coach of Murray, Lincoln Riley, could have taken his run-first scheme with explosive downfield passing plays and used it to perfection with Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, Tony Pollard, Amari Cooper, and the offensive line.
Even now Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule deserved an interview. What he has done at Baylor has been incredible, turning the program from a 1-11 regular season to an 11-1 regular season. Even if he has not had the national success of some other college coaches, he deserved at minimal an interview.
Either way, Jerry and Stephen decided to not give either a call and not keep all of their options open. After winning Super Bowls with college coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, you would think they would have thought that the college route was the correct one. Hiring either Riley or Rhule would not have been a ‘win now’ hire like McCarthy is, what the two could have done in a couple years could have been amazing.
The time of the announcement of not retaining Garrett was RIGHT
This was an all-time Jerry Jones move, making the official announcement about Jason Garrett in the middle of the NFL Playoffs. Once the news dropped, the football world suddenly stopped caring about what was happening on their televisions and started to care about the breaking news Fox’s Jay Glazer had broken on Twitter.
To make matters even better, it was in the middle of the Eagles game. Playing host to Seattle in the Wild Card game, the attention was on quarterback Carson Wentz and his potential head injury towards the end of the first quarter. That lasted a whole two minutes as Glazer broke the news shortly after. Philadelphia went on to lose to the Seahawks, but the talk of the night was about the Dallas Cowboys and their future without Jason Garrett.
Prolonging the decision to let Garrett go was WRONG
While what the Cowboys were trying to do was respect Garrett and what he has done for this franchise not only as a head coach but as a player and an assistant coach, letting him linger and continue to work around The Star for nearly a week was the wrong decision. Ever since the Week 16 loss to the Eagles, the entire world knew that Dallas would not be keeping him at the end of the season. Cutting ties with Garrett as soon as possible would have been the correct move.
Not only could it have fully started the coaching search, but it also could have given Garrett the opportunity to start looking for his next job. Not only was it a media whirlwind trying to figure out when he would officially let go, but once it was announced, it felt like a huge sigh of relief for everyone.
If Dallas had done it earlier like everyone knew they were going to, it would have been an easy, seamless transition into the 2020 season.