Defying convention, Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys keep rolling


ARLINGTON – If that was Jerry Jones’ big plan from the start, it’s nothing short of brilliant. Every week the coach he chose, the coach no one else wanted, will infuriate the entire Dallas Cowboys fan base with at least one puzzling decision that no one who claims to understand football can understand, and it won’t matter. .

The Cowboys will win anyway, week after week after week, suggesting the practice strategy is overrated, and proving that no one really knows anything, anyway. It’s the 21st century version of Barry Switzer replacing Jimmy Johnson, and just like that sweeping mid-1990s experiment, it might be crazy enough to work.

After all, given how the last three games have gone, who are we wise to tell Mike McCarthy that he should, for example, pay attention to the game clock or consider using the game clock. one of his allotted timeouts or adhere to conventional wisdom when it comes to extra points? He has no use for such trivial suggestions as he has Dak Prescott, he has Trevon Diggs and, after a 36-28 win over Carolina at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, he has a squad that looks good enough to walk away. with the NFC East while it keeps the games interesting, just for fun.

It’s not as if none of McCarthy’s so-called infractions were egregious. He’s just guessing, and given how his disastrous first season with the Cowboys unfolded, many people are eager to pick him up.

So when in the second quarter of a 13-7 game on Sunday, he opted to go for two after the Panthers took a penalty on an extra point try, and when that unsuccessful attempt caused him to try again in the third quarter to no avail, he raised more than a few eyebrows. And when Carolina got closer to eight points with 4:31 remaining?

It was going to be a disaster on its own, right? If he had been trained by the book from the start, the game would have been over.

But forget the book. According to the book, in week two against the Chargers, McCarthy, who later claimed he was watching a stadium clock that had been turned off, should not have allowed more than 30 precious seconds to elapse during a disconcerting last minute ride. That, however, would have been boring and deprived everyone of the thrill of Greg Zeurlein hitting a winning basket from 56 yards at the end of time.

And, of course, last Monday night against Philadelphia, McCarthy’s refusal to use his timeouts to give his side an extra scoring opportunity before half-time could have drawn the exasperated ire of none other than ESPN commentator Peyton. Manning. But what does Manning know? He lost twice in the Super Bowl, the game in which McCarthy is undefeated.

The McCarthy Cowboys passed the Eagles that night and, six days later, they spent much of Sunday afternoon passing Carolina. The Panthers couldn’t keep Prescott in their pocket, they couldn’t keep Ezekiel Elliott off the open field, and they couldn’t keep the football away from Diggs, who caught two assists from Sam Darnold while becoming the first player of the Cowboys in history with interceptions in each of the first four games of a season.

“He’s just playing with extreme confidence right now,” McCarthy said of Diggs, and the same is true of just about everyone in his locker room.

The coach surely has credit for that, doesn’t he? Maybe he took the long way to get there – hiring and firing the wrong defensive coordinator before hiring the right one – but, again, that makes the improvement even more dramatic. McCarthy has probably seen it from the start.

The man has foresight, which arguably explains why he spotted the Panthers with those two free points on Sunday. If he hadn’t, the Cowboys would have comfortably led by two possessions late in the game, instead of needing to convert a third and a crucial 1 to freeze the game.

On that play, with less than two minutes to go, Prescott handed the ball over to Elliott, who returned it to Tony Pollard, who ran around the right end of the offensive line for a first try, triggering a celebration. at the stadium scale.

Somehow McCarthy had succeeded again. And all those who thought they knew better?

They had to shake their heads and admit they didn’t know anything, almost as Jones had planned this way from the start.

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Twitter: @mikefinger


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