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Mike McCarthy’s possible replacement likely already working close by

With the moves the Cowboys have made this it's clear that Dallas is in a “win this year” mode. Which means 's seat as seat will be red hot before camp even opens.

He'll be calling the offensive plays this year. He's no longer shackled to the ghost of 's . And this season, he has weapons on both sides of the ball.

Which means just one thing. Nothing less than playing in the Championship game this season will save him.

Should the Cowboys come up short of that goal — or fail to even make the – McCarthy's likely getting fired. But how far would the Cowboys have to look for his replacement?

Inside AT&T Stadium

They could simply look up in the coaches box where calls the defensive plays. Quinn has won a as a . He's led a team to a Super Bowl as a head coach.

Why Dan Quinn Will Succeed This Year on Defense
TAMPA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 09: Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn of the looks on before the game against the at Raymond James Stadium on September 09, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Falcons' collapse against the Patriots was not so much on Quinn's . Rather, it was more the offense forgetting to come out and play 60 minutes of football.

Quinn clearly wants to coach in Dallas. From the sound of it, he probably could have taken his pick of any open head slots over the offseason. He chose to stay with the Cowboys.

Perhaps he did so with the understanding that if McCarthy was let go, Quinn would be next in line. It would be the easiest move, and one the players would support.

Down the road

But, the Cowboys could think outside the box. Their next head coach could be less than a mile away, working his in Choctaw Stadium as we speak. There are two head coaches in the restarted — based in Arlington where all eight teams return to after their games – that are noteworthy.

Both coaches could probably make the move from the XFL to the if the call came. Would the Cowboys' make that call? Who knows. But if they did, here are the likely candidates.

is the head coach of the Arlington Renegades. He's a former head coach at Oklahoma with a National Championship under his belt. He knows how to win and work with young players. His team is currently in the playoff hunt in the XFL.

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Stoops could bring in an who could reinvigorate the Cowboys on that side of the ball. But the downside is he's also an older coach. Does he have the energy for a 17-game NFL season and the playoffs?

The other option is , the head coach of the DC Defenders. His team boasts the best record in the XFL and has looked very solid in seven games.

He's won a Super Bowl as a player, under with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. He's won two Black College National . He's on track to win the XFL title this year.

In short, he's a relatively young coach who knows how to win. He also knows how to relate to young players and get them to play winning football. If Quinn isn't the choice, Barlow might be the best fit.

Around the NFL

The third option could be Dallas going shopping around the league. They'd be looking for an up-and-coming coordinator. Such a move would likely spell the end of Quinn as he'd probably move on to another job if the Cowboys passed him up.

The question would be who? It would almost have to be someone on offense. But is there anyone out there Dallas would pick over the options above?

Washington's new offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, has won two Super Bowls in the position. But he has interviewed for, and been passed over for, a few head coaching jobs already. There must be something popping up in the process that is raising red flags for him not to have been hired by now.

After that, the pickings get a little slim. The only current offensive coordinator who might be worth looking at would be Cincinnati's Brian Callahan. Would the Cowboys be able to lure him away from a team that is already in position to win championships?

Of course, McCarthy could put all of this to rest by simply making it past the of the playoff in January. If he doesn't though, his potential replacements will be eyeing the throne like a Lannister arriving in Kings Landing for the first time.

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli
Richard has covered sports at all levels - from local, prep, college, and professional - since 1984. He has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1969. Since retiring as a full-time sports writer in 2013, he has written and published several novels, two dozen short stories and two sports non-fiction books.

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