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Mike McCarthy has Everything he Needs to Turn Cowboys Around Quickly

When the 2020 season starts, the Dallas Cowboys will have a completely different look and direction from 2019. Of course, like any other season in the NFL, there will be plenty of turnover and new players on the roster. In the case of the Cowboys, they're getting a complete facelift on the field and on the sidelines.

New Head Coach Mike McCarthy brings an in your face approach that has brought him much success on the NFL level. In his 13 years in Green Bay, his team was a regular participant in the postseason. Making nine playoff appearances with included four Championship Game appearances and winning Super Bowl XLV in 2010, McCarthy knows what it takes to reach the mountain top in the pro ranks. Now, he embarks on a new journey to turn the Cowboys into contenders once again, and he has plenty to work with.


The Cowboys had the number one offense in the NFL in 2019 under first-year Offensive Coordinator .

Quarterback saw his numbers go through the roof this season. He set career highs in yards (4,902) and touchdown passes (30). He led the league in passing yards for the first 15 weeks until eventually being edged out by Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston. Moore really took the shackles off and let Prescott's true arm talent be put on display, unlike the days of former OC . McCarthy has been around some of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time during his coaching days such as Joe Montana, , and Aaron Rodgers. I have no doubt he'll bring the best out of Prescott.

Ezekiel Elliott is coming off another excellent season, albeit under the radar. The two-time rushing champion finishing fourth in rushing (1,357), tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (12), second in all-purpose yards (1,777), and tied for first in 100-yard games (7). Mind you, he did this while playing with the NFL's second-leading passer and two 1,100-yard receivers, which doesn't happen often. During his introductory press conference almost a week ago, McCarthy made it clear that Elliott would indeed get his touches.

“I think first off with Zeke, he’s going to get the football,” McCarthy said. “Let’s make no mistake about that. I think you have to clearly understand when you saw the offense is going to make a quarterback successful, the best play to make him successful is a great run game. We clearly understand what we have here and how we could build off of that.”

Elliott has 5,405 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns in his first four seasons (missed six games in 2017 due to a suspension). McCarthy couldn't ask for a better running back to have in his backfield.

The wide receiver room was extremely productive this season. Amari Cooper had 1,189 yards, eight touchdowns and averaged 15.1 yards per catch, all career highs. Michael Gallup doubled his production from his rookie season in catches (66), yards (1,107), and touchdowns (6). Randall Cobb, who played for McCarthy for eight seasons in Green Bay, had 55 receptions for 828 yards and three touchdowns as a third option. Cooper will be the most important player to retain outside of Prescott. He's made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas long-term. Also, Cobb is set to hit the open market as well. Bringing Cooper back and adding another receiver in the draft or free agency will have the Cowboys air attack rolling again next season.

The Cowboys offensive line is loaded with big-time performers. made his seventh consecutive in 2019 and continued his reputation as one of the best-left tackles in the league. was his usual dominant self, making his sixth consecutive All-Pro team (four first-team, two second-team) and holding down the top spot for guards league-wide. bounced back after missing all of 2018 with Guillian-Barre Syndrome. He made his fifth Pro Bowl and re-established himself as one of if not the best in the NFL. A pleasant surprise this season was the progression of Right La'el Collins. He was one of the best at his position in 2019, proving that the five-year 50 million dollar extension with 35 million in guarantees just prior to the season was warranted.

is seemingly the heir apparent to Jason Witten at tight end. It was clear in 2019 that Jarwin was the more dynamic option at the position but for some reason, Witten got the majority of the snaps. I fully expect that to be different in 2020.


Defensively, the Cowboys took a slight step back from the top seven-unit they were in 2018. Although they finished ninth overall ( 11th vs the run, 10th vs the pass) they allowed several teams to jump out to double-digit leads early that the Cowboys couldn't recover from. Even with that being said, McCarthy still has pieces to work with.

is where it all starts on the line of scrimmage coming off the edge. He didn't have the outstanding sack totals he had from the previous two years when he reached double digits (only had five in 2019) but he was still solid vs the run while dealing with plenty of double teams. I expect another season over 10 sacks for him in 2020.

Also, there's who lines up opposite Lawrence. He showed out in 2019 with 11.5 sacks in 14 games. Set to hit the free-agent market himself, I'm sure he'll be one of the first priorities when it comes to retaining talent on this roster.

The position is one the Cowboys have yet to fully address for whatever reason. is a solid 1-technique as a run-stopper and Maliek Collins, who's set to be a , has his moments as well. However, there isn't enough consistency on the interior which affects the production of a guy like Lawrence who receives so many double teams. With the futures of Collins and veteran Michael Bennett uncertain going forward, this will be a position that will require some of the most work to get right for McCarthy.

There should be some optimism that McCarthy can sure up the defensive line considering five of his first-round picks during his days in Green Bay were defensive lineman. With free agency approaching, the NFL Draft in April, and the few pieces already on the roster, McCarthy can easily build a solid unit in the trenches for 2020.

The linebacker position is pretty solid as well for the Cowboys. Jaylon Smith had another productive year with 142 tackles and 2.5 sacks while receiving his first Pro Bowl nod. Leighton Vander Esch was having a pretty good season himself until a neck , which has been diagnosed as spinal stenosis, forced him to miss seven games. The Cowboys are optimistic seeing as the surgery he had to fix the issue was minor, but with an area like the neck, you can't be too careful. was pretty solid as the number three linebacker this season. He had huge games vs the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7 and in Week 9 proving there's still a little something left in the tank from “The General” as he's called. He is set to be a free agent so it'll be interesting to see what the plan is for his future.

The secondary has been much maligned for years now but there are some good pieces to work with. Byron Jones, who was a second-team All-Pro in 2018, was solid once again in 2019. He'll never blow you away with creating turnovers, with only two interceptions and three forced fumbles in his first five seasons, but he's still a very good starting point if you're building a defensive backfield. Jones will be another name the Cowboys will look to strike a long-term deal with this as he prepares to enter free agency.

is the hidden gem of this unit. His lack of size, being only 5'10, kept him from showing what he could do under the guidance of Kris Richard, who likes taller . However, when went down for the season with a torn triceps, Lewis took full advantage of his opportunity. Appearing in all 16 games with five starts, Lewis finished with 51 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions with six passes defended. This gives the Cowboys a potential number one option at corner if Jones leaves in free agency.

Xavier Woods is the top dog at . He's coming off his best season as a pro with 77 tackles, five passes defended, and two interceptions. Jeff Heath isn't going to blow you away with numbers, but he's a very good contributor and a decent number two option at safety.

Rookie Safety is a bullet in the chamber for McCarthy. A six-foot defensive back with the ability to play slot corner as well as safety down in the box.

So as you can see, McCarthy has plenty of toys to play with in regards to his new roster. Also, he's already assembling a very good with names like Mike Nolan, , and Joe Philbin on board. The combination of one of the best rosters in the league and a proven coaching staff gives McCarthy a great shot to have the Cowboys back in the in 2020.

Matthew Lenix
Matthew Lenix
I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

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Mike McCarthy doesn’t actually have “everything he needs”. If he did, Aaron Rogers would be starting for the Cowboys.
I would feel far more confident about Mike’s prospects if he had made those playoffs without having the GOAT QB in his arsenal.
Didn’t Garrett have everything he needed this season?? I have yet to hear the “why” regarding the Boys inconsistency and inability to play when the chips were down.


I agree with the first part about feeling more confident if he did all these things without Rodgers, but contrary to what most people believe, Dak is not a terrible alternative. I just don’t believe the best course is to have him throwing 40 plus times a game when they have a dominant offensive line and running back. Hopefully, Mike doesn’t become too pass happy, but I already have more faith in him than in JG. I’m willing to give him a chance.

Personally, I’d let Byron Jones walk and try to re-sign Quinn. Quinn was a monster and a great pickup. I think Jones is a decent CB, but I don’t think his play warrants a huge contract. If anything they need to FINALLY ADDRESS THE SAFETY SPOT!!! Heath is a decent backup, but not a starter. The safety spot has been neglected since Woodson retired and they’ve suffered for it since.

Jean Claude Monet

“The Cowboys had the number one offense in the NFL in 2019 under first-year Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore”

Unfortunately, the offense played well and racked up stats mostly against poor teams. Example: Zeke averaged 52 yards/game across 6 of the Cowboys losses (NO, GB, MN, Buffalo, Philly). Dak obviously feasted on the NFC least (not counting the second PHI game) and played poorly against the upper echelon teams.
Kellen Moore needs to run the ball more. Doing so will also keep the defense off of the field hopefully helping that unit perform a little better. Having said that, they still need to be unpredictable (e.g. throwing often in classical run situations…especially 1st and 10).

“He led the league in passing yards for the first 15 weeks until eventually being edged out by Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston”

What statement could possibly better show how meaningless leading the league in passing (or finishing 2nd) is to being a good/great QB? Still, Dak did have a better year. He still needs to improve his accuracy and timing but there was improvement over last year. On the other hand, Dallas doesn’t need to “lead the league in yards”, they need to lead the league in winning and they need to show they can beat good teams.

“The Cowboys offensive line is loaded with big-time performers”

One thing that improved this year was the number of sacks allowed. Some of that was due to a big improvement by Lael Collins. Some of it was Dak getting the ball out. Mostly, it was the OL. What needs to seriously improve is the run blocking against the upper echelon teams. The Titans OL doesn’t seem to care who they’re playing. As shown above, the Cowboys only good rushing game against an “upper echelon team” was the Rams game. Note, the Rams finished 19th in rushing defense this year.

The Cowboys played well this year vs. bad teams (exception being the Jets game) and struggled against the better competition. That was more or less across the board (offense, defense) except special teams which was poor against everyone. If you brought in Belechik and Brady, I think you could win a Superbowl. Otherwise, there’s work to be done…especially against good teams. Dak has got to be more accurate in those situations where there are very small windows open only for a very small period of time (meaning he’s got to anticipate the receiver coming open based upon what he sees from the defense pre and post snap). OL has got to run block better (Jarwin didn’t get as many snaps as Witten because he doesn’t run block well) especially vs. the better competition. Zeke needs more touches and “time of possession” has to become a coveted stat to keep the defense off of the field. Defensively, you’d better sign Quinn and find some interior DL talent. Also need to add a ball hawking safety. Give the Jets a 1st round pick and see if you can get Adams.


Randall Cobb as the third option in a McCarthy offense. Would love to see him come back. Against the Eagles in Philly down the stretch he caught everything Dak threw to him.
I heard some genius on post game talk shows talk WR round one . Absurd. You have three great options already here sign Cobb & Cooper plus Jarwin can go down field at TE.

No this team needs help at Safety Linebacker and both Lines. Forget taking a WR early in the draft.

Me you


Chad G.

First, great article! I like the optimism that you have for this team’s future. I believe that they will sign Dak to a long term deal & they will look for an upgrade at backup quarterback.

I would also like to say that Tony Pollard is a great weapon for a Mike McCarthy offense as well (especially if they decide to draft a slot receiver instead of resigning Randall Cobb). Pollard has experience playing slot receiver from his time in college and can work with Zeke in a 2 back look or spell him if he needs a break.

Kinda concerned with the receiver position. They only have Gallup, Devin Smith, & Cedric Wilson under contract in 2020. Obviously, I hope they bring back Cooper. I would be happy if they brought back Cobb to work with McCarthy to teach the guys the new offensive plan. I doubt they bring back Tavon unless the new ST coach really likes him.

Tight end is a sneaky need too. Beginning with Jason Witten, will he be back again or have we seen the last of 82? Could he embrace a backup role ala Antonio Gates the last couple of seasons? Can Blake Jarwin block? We don’t want to get Dak hurt because Jarwin whiffed against a blitzing linebacker. Does Dalton Schultz have a future in Big D? I haven’t seen anything positive to report about that guy since he’s been drafted.

O-line seems pretty good. LT, C, RG, & RT all have really good players locked up. Williams was improved from last year, but still struggled against elite DTs. Fleming was a decent swing tackle, McGovern is a hopeful unknown. Not sure if Looney or XSF will be back next year, but I would try to bring them both back if possible.

D-line is a mess & will be McCarthy & Mike Nolan’s biggest challenge to put together before training camp. Realistically, they have Lawrence, Hill, Armstrong, & Joe Jackson returning. Quinn might price himself out of their range. Do you want to bring back Collins? I love Antwan Woods, but will they? Covington played well at times. LOTS of decisions to be made here & I wouldn’t be surprised to see them target a DE in the 1st rd.

Linebacker has a few questions, but anytime you have Jaylon Smith & LVE you’ve got to feel pretty good (although that neck injury does worry me). Dallas also has Justin March & Luke Gifford returning in reserve roles. I hope we can bring back Sean Lee & Joe Thomas, but that seems unlikely.

It seems to just be a question of price for Byron Jones. He wants to return & Dallas wants to keep him, but how much do you pay a great cover corner with 2 picks in his 5 year career? That’s the 18-20 million dollar question. Chido took a step back in the last half of the season. It’s normal to get picked on when you’re on the other side of a great corner, but he just could win those battles like he did last season. Hopefully he can benefit from a new scheme. I love Jourdan Lewis! This little dude does it all! Hope we keep him god 10 years. I doubt that Anthony Brown will be back because he could start for a ton of teams. Olumba seems like a decent corner, but doesn’t have the necessary top end speed.

Special teams could be a complete reboot. Chris Jones had a 2nd down season in a row. He’s making too much $ to be this ineffective. Our long snapper is still the best in the business, but he’s older now and there are cheaper alternatives, but I hope that he returns. The man hasn’t had one bad snap in his career. If they could get in the hall, he would be a 1st ballot guy. Our kicker didn’t miss this year, but who knows who McCarthy & Fassel would like? Also, I expect a new returner for both kickoffs & punts.

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