Assessing Mike McCarthy's actual value as a coach has been a hot topic for several years now. At least one major sports outlet doesn't seem to be a fan, ranking the Dallas Cowboys' top guy in the bottom half of all NFL head coaches heading into the 2022 season.
Late last week, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports published the article that listed McCarthy as only the 18th-best among the league's 32 current head coaches. Here were the writer's specific comments on McCarthy:
“The pendulum has probably swung a little too far in terms of criticizing McCarthy; even if he did have Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, he's now compiled nine different double-digit-win seasons, including 2021 with Dallas. He's also wisely given plenty of control to play-caller Kellen Moore. And yet, with so much talent at his disposal, ill-timed, old-school decisions have too often doomed him. Maybe that's why team owner Jerry Jones publicly ponders about canning him for his own defensive coordinator.”
From his ouster in Green Bay through these first two years in Dallas, McCarthy's merit has been heavily questioned. Many, myself included, have struggled with how much credit he deserves for his success with the Packers thanks to having QB Aaron Rodgers.
If anything, it's reasonable to criticize Mike for not having multiple championships and greater success with one of the NFL's all-time greats at quarterback.
Still, even the writer admits that criticism of McCarthy may have now gone too far. He's now one of eight coaches with a Super Bowl win and the rest of them were all ranked 11th or higher.
Despite a 12-5 record and dominating the division last year, McCarthy wasn't even ranked as the top coach in the NFC East. The Eagles' Nick Sirianni was ranked 16th overall, but it's worth nothing that the article's author was raised in Philadelphia.
How you feel about Mike McCarthy depends a lot on how you assign weight to the criteria. If you like your team to routinely make the playoffs and win division titles then he's definitely a good guy for the job. But if you don't like seeing your team consistently outclassed by the NFL's elite, you may have a problem.
Between Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn on staff and Jerry Jones having Sean Payton's number on speed dial, McCarthy can't afford a disappointing season. He goes into 2022 with one of the hotter seats in the NFL and clearly needs to put some respect back on his name.
For the Cowboys' sake, let's hope that this is the year Mike McCarthy escapes Aaron Rodgers' shadow and proves he's one of the best in the business.