New NFL head coaches usually get a grace period to turn their teams around as it’s rare one is fired after only a single season. Mike McCarthy, the now second-year head coach for the Dallas Cowboys, certainly received some grace for his first season in Big D after posting a disappointing 6-10 record in 2020, the team’s worst performance in five years.
And there were plenty of excuses for the Dallas brass to pull from in order to justify giving McCarthy a mulligan after year one. The biggest being that quarterback Dak Prescott was lost after Week Five due to a season-ending ankle injury.
In fairness, the Cowboys had only won two of their first five games with Prescott starting under center. But Dallas would go on to lose six of their next seven contests following the loss of Prescott, all but sinking the team’s chances of winning the worst division in the NFL, the NFC East.
So McCarthy got a pass in 2020. But first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan didn’t as the team quickly parted ways with him this offseason after a historically poor performance by the defense. Dallas hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to take his place.
Entering his second season in Dallas, McCarthy faces more pressure than ever to win. But does that mean he’s potentially on the hot seat for 2021? Here’s what ESPN’s Todd Archer recently said on the JaM Session podcast with Matt McClearin and Jean-Jacques Taylor.
“This is a huge year for Mike McCarthy. You’ve got your get out of jail card for all the things that you want to excuse it. Those are gone now. Your program is in place. You’re not behind anymore. You’re not playing from behind. I’m not saying he’s got to win a Super Bowl. I’m not saying he has got to go to the NFC Title game. Just look like your more organized and have a plan.”
During his near 13-year run as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy’s worst record for an entire season during that span was 6-10 back in 2008. Nine of those seasons his Packers posted a record of 8-8 or better.
Prior to McCarthy taking over in Dallas, the Cowboys had posted recent records of 13-3, 9-7, 10-6, and 8-8 under former head coach Jason Garrett. But that was with Prescott being under center for every one of those contests.
Whether Mike McCarthy is on the hot seat or not likely depends on just how bad the Dallas Cowboys perform in 2021. While most seem to believe they are better than their 6-10 record would indicate, especially if Dak Prescott is under center and considering their numerous offseason defensive changes, it’s not hard to imagine the impatience of the Dallas brass if McCarthy still fails to improve on the team’s poor record from last season.