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Cowboys Coach: Is Mike McCarthy Really an Upgrade Over Jason Garrett?

We have news today that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is meeting with the Dallas Cowboys about their impending vacancy. And while any coach wearing a Super Bowl ring sounds like an upgrade over Jason Garrett, I can’t help but wonder if McCarthy would really move the needle for the Cowboys.

The on-paper stuff is all in McCarthy’s favor, of course. Just consider the following comparison from Mike’s time in Green Bay (2006-2018) versus Garrett’s tenure (2010-2019) in Dallas:

  • Super Bowl wins
    • McCarthy 1, Garrett 0
  • NFC Championship wins
    • McCarthy 1, Garrett 0
  • NFC Championship appearances
    • McCarthy 4, Garrett 0
  • Playoff appearances
    • McCarthy 9, Garrett 3
  • Regular season win percentage
    • McCarthy 62%, Garrett 56%
  • Head-to-head wins (including playoffs)
    • McCarthy 5, Garrett 1

So yeah, McCarthy has trumped Garrett in all of the tangible, easily identifiable ways. But there’s a key element in this that can’t be ignored.

Mike McCarthy had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. One is already in the Hall of Fame and the other is a lock for Canton.

As great as Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have been, neither can claim to rival those great Packers passers. And in the modern era of the NFL, QB talent is the driving force behind success.

Cowboys Coach: Is Mike McCarthy Really an Upgrade Over Jason Garrett? 1
Mike McCarthy and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

What scares me about Mike McCarthy is that, many times during his coaching tenure in Green Bay, I heard the complaint from Packers fans that he was wasting the best years of Rodgers’ career. In fact, many have argued that only getting one Super Bowl victory out of one of the best quarterbacks of all time was a failure.

In fact, just look at what happened this year for Green Bay. In their first full season without McCarthy, the Packers went 13-3 and won the competitive NFC North. Rodgers even had one of his worst years but still the team flourished.

You can’t help but look at that and wonder if McCarthy’s accolades are really his, or if he was just a guy lucky enough to coach legendary quarterbacks.

Remember, Favre was already deified before McCarthy ever got to Green Bay. Mike was an assistant with other teams before taking the head job with the Packers, so he had no hand in Brett’s development.

Rodgers was a first-round pick so the talent was already known to be there. And even if McCarthy did help Aaron achieve greatness, their relationship eventually became so toxic that it was a national story.

Say what you want about Jason Garrett but that hasn’t been an issue with him. If anything, he may have been too close with Tony Romo at times.

Here’s how I look at it; take Garrett’s coaching tenure and give him Aaron Rodgers for those nine seasons. How much does that win percentage go up? How many more times does Dallas make the playoffs and how much further do they advance?

You could make a strong case that Garrett and the Cowboys would’ve won a Super Bowl with Rodgers quarterbacking some of their best rosters.

Yes, that statement is an indictment of Mike McCarthy and his taking over as head coach in Dallas.  Will he really be something more than Jason Garrett was, or just more of the same?

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. I hate McCarthy but he is absolutely better than Garrett. He ALWAYS out-couched Garrett. Much better game manager…but then again almost ANY couch is a better game manager and almost always out-couched him on game day so…

  2. Definitely an upgrade. McCarthy was kicked out of Green Bay, because he didnt take crap from Aaron Rodgers. The relationship became toxic because AR ‘s head got big. McCarthy knows his X and O’s. He just needs to be packaged with a great defensive coordinator.

  3. So everyone who thinks McCarthy is a huge upgrade over JG, how do you explain his last two years in GB and then the year he leaves they go 13-3? you going to lazily lay all of that on his relationship with a QB?
    Look we ALL want a new coach in Dallas but dont get stary eyed over the first guy with a coaches clip board to walk in the doors.

  4. Unlike Garret McCarthy will hold the players accountable. The players were the problem not Garret. He was just the fall guy

  5. If Rodgers had been the Cowboy QB under the same conditions in which Romo played, he would also have gotten his brains beat in year after year. Jones gave Romo nothing to work with, and Rodgers would have been in the same situation – trying to play catch-up when the lousy defense folded, with no offensive line to protect him, and limited play-calling by the HC. Get real about where the blame lies.

  6. I just want to say this every time I hear it’s Jerry Jones fault why Jason Garrett didn’t do better it makes me laugh I don’t think Jerry told Garrett to kick the field goal when there down to the Pats by 7 points with very little time left I don’t think Jerry told Garrett to run the ball 2 times against the Vikes and lost yards Jerry might do somethings wrong but come on when it comes to game day things that falls on Garrett. And now that Garrett will be the oc of the Giants all I hear is how great of and oc he was what did he ever do that makes him great? As far as McCarthy only winning one SB how many did Mike Holmgren win with Brett Favre or Don Shula win with Dan Marino so I will take McCarthy one SB win over Garrett’s not even getting close to one. Lets face it some times you just have to move on there is no guarantee to any coach coming in and doing anything as much as I think Jimmy Johnson was a great coach what did he do when he coached the Dolphins or Bill Parcells when he got to the Cowboys no SB so we can blame who ever we want but it comes down to players and some coaches and I don’t care who you get as a coach if the players don’t play good you have nothing so we can point are fingers at Jerry but on Sundays it’s the players and coaches that have all the say so if you have dumb players and coaches you have no chance to win.

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