In less than a week, the Dallas Cowboys have let go of Jason Garrett as head coach, hired Mike McCarthy to take the reins, and McCarthy’s made quick work to turnover his coaching staff as they prepare for the 2020 offseason. Late last night another name was on the chopping block; Quarterbacks Coach Jon Kitna.
ESPN’s Ed Werder reported around 11:15 pm Friday night that McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys would not be retaining Jon Kitna in 2020.
Mike McCarthy is not retaining QB coach Jon Kitna, who contributed to Dak Prescott’s development as an NFL passer. Prescott finished one yard from Tony Romo’s single-season passing record. It appears only Kellen Moore and Doug Nussmeir are candidates to return to offensive staff.
Kitna has received a ton of praise in the last year for his work with Quarterback Dak Prescott, which led to a career year for the Cowboys signal-caller. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Mike McCarthy wouldn’t want to retain a voice that was so instrumental to Prescott’s success in 2019.
However, this further supports the idea that Mike McCarthy has a vision for what he wants the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching staff to look like. One important thing to note is that much of Jon Kitna’s offensive understanding comes from his time with Mike Martz. Martz, best known for the St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” is largely based on the “Coryell” system that Jason Garrett deployed during his tenure as offensive coordinator and head coach. McCarthy’s upbringing as a coach comes from the ‘West Coast Offense’ school of playcalling used by the San Francisco 49ers teams of the 80s and 90s and more recently the Andy Reid offenses.
While the modern NFL has evolved and much of the two major offensive philosophies can be found throughout NFL playbooks, the biggest difference comes in the language used to express the offense. As the quarterbacks’ coach is largely responsible for helping the quarterback learn the offense in the preseason and absorb the gameplan during the season, it makes sense to bring someone in that speaks the same language as the play-caller.
Though Kitna did a really good job and will be missed because of his work with Prescott, the Cowboys’ quarterback will still be in the very capable hands of Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy has had a ton of success coaching the quarterback position whether as a QB coach, an offensive coordinator or as a head coach operating as the play-caller. Even on teams that had just average quarterback play, McCarthy always seemed to draw the best out of them.
In just five days since the announcement came down that Mike McCarthy would become the ninth head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s turned over a big portion of his coaching staff with the hopes of getting everyone on the same page. It’s clear that McCarthy has a plan and he’s executing it. All that remains is to see how it all plays out.