FRISCO, Texas – Jerry Jones has never liked the word lucky. Has always gone out of his way to explain good fortune and fortuitous. He did it again here Wednesday at the Ford Center during Mike McCarthy's introductory press conference before nearly 200 people at the Ford Center.
Jerry reminded everyone, mostly tongue-in-cheek, how smart he was when he first bought the Cowboys in 1989 after the Cowboys had gone 3-13 in 1988, saying, "I looked smart, very smart." So, the Cowboys had the first pick in the draft in Jerry's first draft. The Cowboys were in dire need of a quarterback, Jimmy Johnson knowing Danny White's days were numbered, his fractured wrist in 1986 robbing him of an ability to put zip on the ball. And he wasn't wild about Steve Pelluer.
And Jerry's timing was impeccable. Because the projected No. 1 pick in the draft was some guy named Troy Aikman, the only QB taken in the first round that year. And the Cowboys actually made their pick before the draft even started.
"Those combination of things can make you look real smart when that timing of things comes together," Jerry said.
His point being, how fortunate are the Cowboys when deciding they need a new head coach, wanted one preferably with head coaching experience, one with NFL head coaching experience, one that had been successful, one that had not been out of the game for long and, this being that key thing:
McCarthy checked off every one of those boxes.
"Yes, we needed Mike, we needed a coach, but to have his availability and to have his track record, to check all the boxes I was talking about," Jones said, "was fortuitous for this franchise."
True that, real luck . . . er, fortuitous.
How's that for a shot, with so many more to come.
- Wednesday's Special: Sure sounds like McCarthy has a lot of antennas out there in the National Football League, a lot of connections in this coaching profession. Also sounds like he had planned ahead for whoever hired him next how he wanted to put a staff together. Guarantee you it just didn't dawn on him to call Mike Nolan on Saturday to see if he wants to be his defensive coordinator. And same with John Fassel, expected to be his special teams coach – like, one of the best special teams coaches in the league, with a huge track record. And as Bill Parcells would say, the other side of that pancake is, evidently these types of guys want to work for McCarthy, too.
- Never Easy: Jerry Jones was very gracious in his parting comments during the press conference on letting Jason Garrett go, and sounds as if Jason was dealing with it best he could, Jerry saying his ninth-year head coach having good things to say about the impending McCarthy choice. This reminds of near the end of the 1997 season, when the Cowboys were on the tail end of a five-game losing streak that left the Cowboys 6-10 and time for Barry Switzer to move on. Remember talking in the hallway one day at The Ranch with offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese when he brought this up, basically saying, we're all out of here. I was like, you, too? And Ernie, ever the blunt, hard-edged assistant coach, says, oh sure. Sometimes your message gets stale. They quit listening to you. Well, he was right. His four-year run with the Cowboys had run out once the Cowboys hired Chan Gailey to replace Switzer. I think Jason understood.
- Marinelli Madness: One of the benefits of this job is actually getting to know guys beyond the game of football, just like Ernie. Rod Marinelli was one of those guys, too. Been with the Cowboys these past seven seasons, first as the defensive line coach and then the defensive coordinator. His sense of history, both of the country and football is absolutely amazing. Just listening to his stories. His days at California Lutheran working Cowboys training camps in Thousand Oaks. His trip to France, doing the D-Day invasion tour through Normandy. His time in Vietnam. On and on. Sure sorry to see him go. Learned a lot of football from him over his stay (2013-2019). Most of all, how he was a standup guy, win or lose. Or even when losing a job, making a point the other day of stopping to shake hands while on his way out. Rod turned 70 this year. Has been coaching, college and NFL, for 44 years uninterrupted. Yet, told me even though he's obligated to start taking Social Security at 70, he's not about to retire. Has a few irons in the fire for his 45th season. The NFL needs more Rods.
- Coaching Legacy: Talk about following in your father's footsteps. Nolan, expected to be named the defensive coordinator on McCarthy's staff, will become the first son of a former Cowboys coach to work for the franchise. His pops, Dick Nolan, spent 15 seasons with the Cowboys as an assistant coach: 1962-66 as Tom Landry's defensive backs coach; 1982-85 as the Cowboys wide receivers coach; and 1986-90 as the defensive backs coach, including those final two seasons on Jimmy Johnson's staff. Another unique note on the Nolans, as far as I can tell, they are the only father-son combo to become the head coach of the same NFL team. Father Dick was the San Francisco 49ers head coach from 1967-75. Son Mike was head coach of the 49ers from 2005-08.
- Want Moore: Sounding as if Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will be retained by McCarthy. And why not. In his first year as coordinator, the Cowboys this season led the league averaging 431.5 yards and 27.1 points a game. In fact, this was his first year ever calling plays, well, since playing for his father in high school. Now how much might he be coordinating? Interesting remark from McCarthy during a December interview with NBC Sports' Peter King at his home just outside Green Bay when asked what he might change if he gets another head coaching opportunity, he said, "If you're going to call the offense, if you're going to be the play-caller on Sunday then you need to be the major installer on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. That's something that I got away from the second half of my career there in Green Bay." Stay tuned, McCarthy saying it's too early to say.
- You're Fired: Celebrate if that never has happened to you. Not a good feeling. Ultimate rejection, and certainly takes some time to let the bitterness go. But McCarthy, in that same interview with King, nearly a year after the Packers parted ways with their head coach after 13 seasons, with just four games remaining in the 2018 season, seemed to have processed through that period of his life, with this healthy response: "I think the phrase, be better not bitter, is something that really applies to where I am today." And then there was this before he ever conducted an interview over the previous week and before the Cowboys brought him in for interviews over this past weekend when asked how he feels after a year out of coaching, "I think I'm more rejuvenated." Exactly what Jerry wanted to year. Hey. Exactly what you wanted to hear.
And finally, that is for now, cuz got many more shots to take where these come from: There seemed to be this preoccupation among members of the media that a top-notch head coach would not want to work for the Cowboys because of this tired narrative of Jones being meddlesome, that the coach wouldn't have a hand in putting his staff together. Well, McCarthy threw those proponents of that narrative for a loop when asked about his projected ability to work with Jones.
"I think the best statement that was said over and over in the interview is, 'We're going to make _we_ decisions . . . I'm excited as a head coach that I'll probably have more input than I've had in the past, he said.
"The _we_ decisions in personnel was stated over and over, and that's all you can ask for as a head coach."
Hmmm, any more questions?