Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy discusses 'unusual' narratives pushed by owner Jerry Jones
Mike McCarthy admits: It’s a strange narrative.
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones publicly saying defensive coordinator Dan Quinn might one day become his head coach? The perceived confusion about whether McCarthy’s role as head coach was temporarily in limbo and what any insinuations to Quinn might mean for their working relationship?
"Are these narratives unusual? Absolutely," McCarthy said Tuesday on The Rich Eisen Show. "I’ve never dealt with anything like this. ... I’ve always, frankly, just (kept) it about winning. I’ve always taken a blind eye or a blind ear to those things, but that’s not the case when you work here."
McCarthy completed his second year as Cowboys coach 12-5 and Dallas won the NFC East before losing a wildcard game 23-17 to the San Francisco 49ers. McCarthy previously spent 13 seasons at the helm of the Green Bay Packers, overseeing a Super Bowl as the highlight of his 125-77 tenure.
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But the Green Bay culture didn’t resemble the Cowboys orbit. McCarthy had spent time in San Francisco, New Orleans and Kansas City without narratives finding legs as readily as they do in Dallas.
His boss openly suggested one of his coordinators was head coaching material for the @dallascowboys and then there’s all the Sean Payton rumors.
How does all this sit with Mike McCarthy and has he talked with Jerry Jones about it??@richeisen asked him point blank today: pic.twitter.com/EGTGcZVNhE
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) February 15, 2022
Sean Payton retires as New Orleans Saints head coach? Rumors swirled about Payton returning to his former franchise to coach the Cowboys. Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore interview for a slew of the league’s nine head-coaching openings this offseason? Jones declined to publicly endorse McCarthy’s job security during that time, even as McCarthy’s contract stretches on.
So Tuesday, with the Super Bowl on the backburner and a long NFL offseason ahead, McCarthy addressed speculation. He said he "definitely" spoke with Jones and Quinn about Quinn’s future. He and Jones "talked about Sean Payton’s narrative also," McCarthy said. The message, per McCarthy: "You and I are in this back-to-back. It’s a partnership. Focus on what we need to do moving forward."
McCarthy said he’s "very, very comfortable" with his relationship and dialogue with the media-happy owner and general manager.
"I have an excellent relationship with Jerry Jones," McCarthy said. "At the end of the day, we both want the same thing: to win a world championship. Hey, definitely, the narratives are unusual. But at the end of the day, I think you’ve got to trust the relationships, the communication and the connection you have in our leadership group. I think we’re doing everything we possibly can to build a championship team here."
Quinn returning was part of that championship formula, McCarthy said. Quinn won NFL assistant coach of the year honors for engineering a defensive turnaround from 28th in points allowed to seventh. The Cowboys also jumped from seventh to first in takeaways under Quinn, formerly the Atlanta Falcons head coach. So McCarthy — like Jones — encouraged Quinn’s return. Did the coaching colleagues discuss narratives pitting them against one another?
"We kind of laughed about it," McCarthy said. "And I said, 'Dan, 10-12 years ago I’d tell you, please get the hell out of here. I don’t want to deal with this.' But the reality is I’m about winning, he’s about the winning, and the best thing for the Cowboys is for Dan Quinn to be here."
McCarthy said he understands criticism after the Cowboys failed to secure a playoff win, Dallas hired McCarthy on account of his playoff success. But McCarthy wants criticism to fuel rather than thwart the team’s continued growth.
"When you lose, criticism is going to come," McCarthy said. "It’s going to come heavier and harder than probably you’ve ever experienced in your life when you work at the Dallas Cowboys. That’s part of the landscape. So that’s why you just keep plugging.
"The advancement we made from Year 1 to Year 2 was impressive. We know we have more to offer. The emotion and sting of how we lost is real. But in my lifetime in this league, it’ll make us better.
"At the end of the day, it’s about winning. Everything we do here on a daily basis is about winning."
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike McCarthy on Jerry Jones' 'unusual' narratives on Cowboys