FRISCO, Texas - The Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy with an eye towards his commitment to analytics, his innovative game plans, and his potential to bring fresh tactics to the practice field to re-energize a team that might have grown a little too used to Jason Garrett's coaching regime.
At 2-7, past excitement for those things might seem quaint, if not wholly irrelevant. Injuries, failures, and losses have defined the 2020 season for the Cowboys. But that doesn't mean McCarthy isn't still taking creative approaches to coaching this season, and with the NFC East in shambles, the right moves might actually spark a playoff spot for Dallas.
After their loss to the Steelers, McCarthy hinted that during the bye or before their next game to the Vikings, the Cowboys would implement what he referred to as "Across-the-Hall" in which there would be something of a shuffle with the coaching staff.
Coming out of the bye week, Ezekiel Elliott explained to the media what exactly that meant.
"Across-the-Hall is basically, you meet with the position coach you'd go against on defense," Elliott said. "So, the running backs meet with the linebacker [coaches]. The receivers meet with the cornerback coach."
Perhaps this might seem like a silly gimmick to some fans when placed in the context of how poorly things have gone for the Cowboys this year, but one might argue it could actually have a greater effect on a team that has failed to do things as planned. The positional coaches have obviously instructed their players on how to approach their gameplan, but circumstances and mistakes have prevented the intended results. When someone tells you to do something that isn't working over and over again, it might start to lose its meaning, even if it's good advice.
Elliott explained how this new approach is almost more like meeting with the enemy.
"You talk to the coach and they do a study of your film from the first nine weeks," he said. "You basically have an open conversation where he says what he would think to do if he were preparing against me."
One advantage Zeke and the running backs should have this week is the chance to visit with defensive assistant coach George Edwards, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Vikings from 2014-2019.
Previously the mindset might have been "how do we get things going?" But it's worth keeping in mind that opposing coaches come in with the mindset of "How are we going to stop these guys?" Getting the entire team on the same page is an important start to complementary football, which the Cowboys have yet to play all season.
"It's like an open dialogue so we can all grow as football players," Elliott said"
Elliott claimed that there's something pretty clear that's common throughout all the positional rooms: a distaste for their quality of play.
"I know for me, and a lot of guys on this team, we're competitors. No one likes to go out there and lose football games. I think it's been a month since we've won a football game. That sucks."
It might take less than a month to turn things around and be in complete control of the division. The Cowboys will spend that month trying things until they find something that works.