FRISCO, Texas – This week always feels akin to hopping off a treadmill after a 30-minute sprint.
The ground still feels like it's moving, but the brutal reality for the 2021 Cowboys is that a six-month marathon has once again come to an abrupt end. Asked about his emotions in the wake of Sunday's loss to San Francisco, team chief operating officer Stephen Jones laid it out succinctly.
"The only thing I can say is it's hard to remember," he said. "You're in shock that your season's over."
The story now turns to the uncertainties of January – namely, the makeup of the Cowboys' coaching staff moving forward.
Jones offered some clarity on at least one big component of the staff on Monday morning. Despite outcry from some fans and media that Sunday's loss should end Mike McCarthy's tenure with the Cowboys, Jones told 105.3 FM he was confident his head coach would be back in 2022.
"Absolutely, very confident," he said.
That was bound to be a topic of conversation, given the way the weekend played out. It's not just that the Cowboys exited in the first round of the postseason, but team owner/general manager Jerry Jones declined to elaborate on the possibility of a coaching change or whether he thought his team looked prepared for a playoff game.
"I'm not going to discuss coaching, the preparation, any of those things. That's not on the table," he said.
It would be surprising to see the team make a head coaching move after McCarthy's second season – a year that saw him guide the team to a 12-5 record and an NFC East title. Even if that doesn't happen, though, there's plenty of uncertainty surrounding this coaching staff in 2022.
As has been expected since October, both the Cowboys' offensive and defensive coordinators, Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn, are hot commodities in this year's NFL hiring cycle. Moore has already interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coaching vacancy, while Quinn is expected to interview for the Denver Broncos' opening in addition to others.
It's a testament to the Cowboys' success at the coordinator level that both Quinn and Moore could interview for the same job opening. Nothing is decided as of yet, but it's understandable if the Cowboys are bracing to lose one or both coaches.
"At the end of the day, it's real hard to keep people from taking a head football coaching opportunity," Stephen Jones said. "They're hard to come by, and there's a big difference between being a coordinator and a head coach."
That's ultimately what makes these weeks so weird. There's an alternate timeline where the Cowboys' coaching staff is devising its game plan for a divisional round matchup in Tampa. Instead, they're bracing for the possibility of major changes moving into 2022. And while there's no way to know what's coming, the Cowboys will be prepared for it.
"We've got great relationships with both men, and we'll just work with them as they navigate these waters," Stephen Jones said. "And as we do that, we'll be thinking about what the future holds for the Cowboys, as well – obviously, that'll be first and foremost."