4th-and-how-much? IT DOESN’T MATTER! Cowboys’ McCarthy is a go

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Tony Thompson
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Near the end of the 2019 season, the Mike McCarthy public relations tour began. It reached a fever pitch when Peter King wrote about him in his weekly column, reading like an advert from the Dallas Cowboys head coach’s agency. The biggest takeaway? Analytics would play a big role in his decision making going forward.

Last year’s season went about as badly as one could have expected. How much of that can be blamed on McCarthy is less than the angriest fan would imagine. One thing is for sure: he held up his end of the deal on fourth downs in 2020.

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No coach made the correct decision on fourth down with four or less yards to go more often than McCarthy did with the Cowboys. That might seem like a niche stat pulled from the recesses of the internet in order to defend a Dallas coach that oversaw one of their worst seasons in recent memory, but the fact is that coaches are too conservative in that exact situation.

McCarthy wasn’t. Nor did he have nearly his full complement of offensive weapons. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him become more conservative with a healthier team on the field in 2021, but if he’s true to his word, he’ll continue his all-gas-no-brakes decision making on fourth down.