Mike McCarthy is beyond excited to call plays for the Cowboys offense, but there are layers as to why he's all smiles when discussing it — feeling the team is nearing a breakthrough
INDIANAPOLIS — Two things are true of Mike McCarthy as the 2023 NFL Combine gets underway. He's still burning internally from the playoff exit in the NFC Divisional Round, but he's also extremely optimistic about the direction in which the Dallas Cowboys are headed, feeling they're only a few tweaks away from being reappearing in the Super Bowl.
One such tweak is actually much more profound than that word would suggest, with the decision to part ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore this offseason and McCarthy himself taking ownership of play-calling duties going forward.
That much you knew already, but what you didn't know what just how excited McCarthy is to be back in the mix as a play-caller for the first time since his days with the Green Bay Packers; and he feels taking on the additional role will serve more than just the offense.
The defense is set to benefit from the change as well. After all, time of possession matters, and sometimes at the expense of trying to order a 40 burger with extra cheese.
"Being the head coach and the play-caller, you're a little more in tune," said McCarthy. "I want to be the No. 1 team in the league with the number of wins and the championship. If we have to give up some production [along with] taking care of the ball more to get that, then that's what we'll do, because we have a really good defense."
At the risk of kneecapping McCarthy's humility, it's more accurate to describe the Cowboys defensive output in 2022 as elite and literally record-setting, particularly in the aspect of takeaways and sacks/QB pressures/disruptions.
"You can't get to the championship game without defense," McCarthy added. "That's been my personal experience. I've won one Super Bowl and I've had one top-5 defense in 17 years. The facts are in the pudding.
"… The Cowboys won their Super Bowls when they had the best defense in the league. … You can't get there without it. My thing is, in the NFL, the defense gets you to the Super Bowl and you need to have the quarterback who can win it. … I want my team to look like that, and I feel the 2022 team looked that way."
As for McCarthy himself, it's time to completely unleash the super-competitor within him, one that will now include the chess match of trying to outwit the opposing defensive coordinator on a weekly basis — the thought of which causes McCarthy to light up like a Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.
"The players compete on Sunday, but the play-callers get to compete, too," he said. "I'm looking forward to competing."