Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys faced some tough decisions within their coaching staff this offseason, and it required walking a fine line that balanced the old with the new
FRISCO, TX — It's an offseason headlined by change from the Dallas Cowboys, having began with the team parting ways with several within their coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. It's apparent the organization feels there are tweaks needed to try and position themselves to finally turn the final corner toward ending the Super Bowl drought, but it wasn't exactly as simple as many might think.
At least not for Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy has pulled the trigger on coaching staff changes before, notably moving on from Mike Nolan and Jim Tomsula as defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, respectively, after only one season (2020) with the club; but this all feels very different this time around.
When coaches who have such deep personal ties to McCarthy, e.g., Rob Davis, are advised they won't return, you can bet it comes with a bit of heartbreak.
And considering McCarthy is also a rabid fan of coaching continuity as it relates to success of a team, he was faced with the challenge of figuring out where to add new voices in the coaching ranks from outside of the building versus where to promote from within.
"If you look at the way it sorted out, it factored into these decisions," McCarthy said, speaking from the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "Having a lot of experience in draft-and-develop, our continuity in the coaching staff was a huge advantage for us [with the Packers]."
McCarthy rode that wave of continuity to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, and largely because the turnaround time from previous seasons that ended prematurely was exceptionally short — absent of having to do wholesale onboarding within the coaching staff.
That goes a long way in helping along the draft process, and the haul thereof.
"We were able to turn the page off of how a playoff ended and get right into the offseason because," said McCarthy. "When you're a draft-and-develop team, the stress of your football team to utilize the draft class is higher. We've seen that … we needed those young guys to play early. If they didn't play early, we wouldn't be where we are as far as number of wins.
"But that was every year in Green Bay. Continuity in your staff, I was always fighting to keep those guys, financially and all of that. But now here we are, and it's a new arena for me, personally."
In all, the Cowboys moved on from nearly 10 assistant/positional coaches, and the group built for the 2023 season includes faces who are former players entering their first year of coaching, such as Darian Thompson and former first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, as well as promotions from within the existing staff —namely Brian Schottenheimer to offensive coordinator (but not play-caller) and Scott Tolzien to quarterbacks coach.
"This is a lot of change in one year for a coaching staff," McCarthy admitted. "The opportunity to promote some guys from within was important and, personally, it feels good to give a young guy [that opportunity]. I wouldn't be here if someone didn't give me an opportunity, so that's definitely played into it.
"We've gotten younger, but there's definitely a continuity variable in it for myself."