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Offseason | 2023

How McCarthy, Dak are Addressing 2022 INT Issues 


PHOENIX — When looking back at the 2022 season, a lot of different numbers stood out more than others.

How about 12? The number of regular-season wins the Cowboys picked up for the second straight year.

Or maybe 30? The years in between the Cowboys last road playoff win, something they finally conquered in Tampa Bay.

Or how about 1 - the times the Cowboys have now actually beaten Tom Brady after seven failed attempts.

But in reality, the number 17 gets talked about the most. And rightfully so, considering the importance it has on the outcomes of games.

The 17 interceptions thrown by Dak Prescott last year, which includes 15 in the regular season to lead the NFL, and then two more in the playoffs - both coming in the first half of the Cowboys' Divisional round loss to the 49ers.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has a glass-half-full approach as much as the next person, but he knows Dak has to get a handle on the interceptions, which is why he's already dedicated time this offseason meeting with his quarterback to go over each and every interception from last year.

"Definitely, we spent some time," McCarthy said Tuesday at the NFL Owner's Meetings. " He was in for the captains workout (earlier this month). So he came up and spent about four hours with Scott (Tolzien, QB coach) and I. And we went back and looked at his decision-making opportunities and the interceptions and potential interceptions and just talking through it."

McCarthy was complimentary of former QB coach Doug Nussmeier, but spoke of the new voices around Prescott, which not only include Scott Tolzien, but offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but also McCarthy himself, considering he will take over the play-calling duties.

"It's healthy …" McCarthy said of the exercise to evaluate the interceptions. "I thought Doug (Nussmeier)did an excellent job with the quarterbacks. But you know, the room will be different. Any time you have a new coach in there and it'll be Scott's new opportunity, too. But Brian and I will be in there pretty much full time so they'll be getting that landscape laid too. But it's pretty fluid."

McCarthy also said he's got another way for Dak to be effective next year and it starts up front with the offensive line. He credited the accelerated play of the defensive linemen, especially in the NFC East with the Eagles, Giants and Commanders, as another challenge for opposing teams.

"The defensive-line play is at a historical-high," he said. "The value that's put into the D-line play, as far as draft and free agency, that's a priority position. You've seen the good defensive lines that have the six-seven-eight-man rotations, they're getting to 8 to 10. Just look at our division alone. You have to play close attention to that. With that, from an offensive perspective, you have to take a hard look at your protection schemes and we do that every year.this isn't anything new. We'll be different in some things, but it'll be about protecting him better."

And speaking of numbers, McCarthy has specific number in mind for next year - 20. Not in interceptions of course, or even touchdowns or another in-game stat. McCarthy is focused on games played.

"My goal is for Dak to play 20 games next year," McCarthy said. "If he plays 20 games next year, obviously we'll be right where we want to be."

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