The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2024 NFL playoffs with a 12-5 record and the No. 2 seed for the NFC. This meant that they drew the “worst” team in the No. 7 seed Green Bay Packers and had the benefit of playing at home. The Packers came to play, though, and got out to an insurmountable lead in the first half, pulling the first upset of a No. 7 seed over a No. 2 since the NFL playoffs were expanded in 2020.
While it seemed like this could finally be the season for Dallas to go the distance again, they experienced yet another first-round playoff embarrassment. Should the Cowboys’ front office clean house and fire head coach Mike McCarthy and start fresh with a new coaching staff in 2024?
Normally, if a coach had three straight 12-win seasons, you wouldn’t be questioning whether or not they would be retained. Still, team owner Jerry Jones has made it abundantly clear that he expects deep playoff runs and Super Bowl rings from his head coaches. Plus, between those three 12-win teams, there is only one playoff victory in three trips. Looking at McCarthy’s entire 17-year coaching career, he has made the playoffs 12 times. During those 12 years, his teams have won a combined 11 games, with four coming in 2010 when Green Bay won the Super Bowl. Outside of that, no McCarthy-coached team has won more than two playoff games in a season.
Dallas was a seven-point favorite entering the game and got embarrassingly blown out at home. They have quarterback Dak Prescott under contract for one more season, and the amount of dead money they would eat if they cut or traded him makes it highly unlikely a move is made. The Dallas defense allowed the fifth-fewest points per game in the league, while its offense scored the most points per game. They were also fifth in yards per game and third in passing yards per game. We know that the team is talented, so the blame falls on the head coach.
It may be recency bias after the 48-32 loss to the Packers on Sunday, but it doesn’t feel like the question is if McCarthy should be fired after this game, but who is Dallas going to bring in to replace him? Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is a sought-after coaching candidate this offseason, with ties to the open Seattle Seahawks head coaching position. Earlier this season, officials from Dallas were quoted as saying they were going to judge McCarthy’s tenure with the team on his final game, but they were interested in keeping Quinn no matter what. The Cowboys will likely bring in a new coaching staff, and it wouldn’t be shocking if it is led by one of the better coaching candidates on the market. Dallas then will hope it is a quick fix and not a full-on rebuild spanning multiple years if they need to find a new QB in 2025, but this result likely all but seals McCarthy’s fate.