(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2022 season. Today, the staff writers discuss head coach Mike McCarthy heading into his third season with the team.)
2) Pressure on McCarthy To Have Early Success?
Mickey Spagnola: Look, only once since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 has he fired a head coach in the middle of a season, that taking place in 2010 when Wade Phillips in his fourth season got off to a 1-7 start and had lost the team, losing that eighth game, 45-7, to Green Bay. The pressure on McCarthy is to improve on last season, whether that's bettering the 12-5 record or win a playoff game or two. And truth be told, since there seems to be so many fearing those opening two games, the Cowboys should have beaten Tampa Bay in last year's opener, losing on the last-second walk-off field goal after squandering too many earlier scoring opportunities, and don't forget before Cincinnati's Super Bowl run, the Bengals finished the regular season 10-7. And remember, this is not last year's team . . . yet.
Rob Phillips: Let's face it: There's always pressure on the head coach of an NFL team, even guys like Bill Belichick who have been in one spot forever. In this particular situation, yes, I think there's pressure on the entire organization, Mike McCarthy included, to move past the first round and make a meaningful run toward a Super Bowl. To me, that's through the lens of the entire upcoming season, not the first few games. Sure, there has been one instance where Jerry Jones made a midseason coaching change: 2010 when Wade Phillips got fired after a dreadful 1-7 start. I don't see that happening here because: 1) I don't expect this year's team to struggle like that, barring terrible injury luck; and 2) overall, Jones has shown tremendous patience with coaches over the past 20 or so years. While the loss to San Francisco was a huge disappointment, the team did produce a six-win turnaround from 2020 under McCarthy. Now it's time to build on that.
Kyle Youmans: There's always pressure as the head coach in Dallas, but not this much pressure. Dominating the division? Not good enough. Winning 12 games? Not enough. Having the top-rated offense in the NFL? Nope. The expectation in Dallas is to win playoff games and to make a deep run into the postseason. That was the expectation for McCarthy when he was hired in 2020, and he has not done that in his two seasons. Not to mention, two names that would be on the short list of potential replacements, are also in the building with Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore. He needs to set the stage against a strong early schedule and show the league that this year is different.