Cowboys' Stephen Jones weighs in on head coach Mike McCarthy's future

Sunday night, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declined to discuss Mike McCarthy’s future after Dallas' 23-17 wild-card loss to the 49ers.

Monday afternoon, his son and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones weighed in.

Is the Cowboys front office confident that McCarthy will lead the team as head coach next season?

“Absolutely,” Stephen Jones told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan without hesitation. “Very confident.”

Another disappointing playoff loss had brought questions to the surface.

The Cowboys hired McCarthy on account of his playoff resume, his Super Bowl championship and his 10 playoff victories in 13 seasons as Green Bay Packers head coach, emblematic of the postseason success Dallas desperately sought.

Despite winning the NFC East four times since 2014, the Cowboys have not advanced to a conference championship since the 1995 season.

Expectations are high. Players have fallen short far too often.

“We definitely underachieved,” quarterback Dak Prescott said Sunday night. “When you play for the Dallas Cowboys, you play here, you understand it’s Super Bowl or nothing.

“It sucks. Point blank.”

What frustrates Cowboys management and roster members even more is that they felt like they had sufficient talent to contend this season. The Cowboys returned what was considered a deep stable of weapons on offense, from recently extended Prescott to running back Ezekiel Elliott, receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, and multiple Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

Dallas led the league in points per game and offensive yards. But their statistics were skewed by blowouts against undermatched NFC East teams while they struggled against top-tier playoff contenders.

“I’d rather have a Super Bowl than a thousand-yard season every day,” Elliott said Sunday night. “This is the best team I’ve been on. It’s disappointing. … We’re all hurting.”

Which led Jerry Jones to consider the question Sunday night: If the Cowboys’ personnel is sufficient, what is blocking their path to success? After a game in which the Cowboys sustained 14 penalties and squandered their chance at a game-winning last play due to procedural inefficiency, is coaching sufficient?

It’s worth even further consideration on the heels of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewing for the Denver Broncos head coaching opening. Quinn oversaw a defensive transformation that led Dallas from 28th in points allowed in 2020 to seventh in 2021. The Cowboys led the league in takeaways.

Broncos brass will fly to Dallas to interview Quinn on Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the interview scheduling confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the information.

With Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore entertaining head coach interest (Moore interviewed with Jacksonville), and management disorganization evident Sunday night, Jones ponders his options.

“All of the things that caused us to be sitting here losers, as losing the game, all of those things, I understand,” Jones said. “This is one of the best teams that I’ve been a part of that this happened to. (So) this is extremely, extremely disappointing. And surprising, that we didn’t win this first playoff game - for me and for our fans.”

Jones dismissed the narrative that McCarthy and Prescott latched onto about officiating incompetence. The Cowboys “shouldn’t have been in a position for that last play to have been something controversial,” the owner/general manager said, “so I’m not going to make it something bigger than it was.”

A porous Cowboys run defense, heavily penalized and outmatched offensive line and failure to sustain drives hurt the team more than whistles and flags thrown and not. Jones discussed how the NFL’s parity structure and salary cap narrow the window for talent-laden teams to cash in. So to trail an entire playoff game at home is “quite a letdown.”

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Jones added that he was “sick” to witness Prescott fall short of postseason success the way his predecessor Tony Romo had.

“I’m not going to discuss coaching, the preparation, any of those things,” Jerry Jones said. “That’s not on the table. The game speaks for itself. … This is one of the best groups of players I’ve been around.”

Monday, Stephen Jones said, Jerry Jones highlighted the importance of players sitting in their disappointment. The key wasn’t to shame or depress them, but to motivate.

“One thing Jerry said that was really interesting is that sometimes, you don’t want to send negative vibes but you just want the players to feel what that meeting felt like this morning,” Stephen Jones said. “So they know: Heck, do anything and everything we can to avoid an abrupt finish to the season.

“You can see it in their faces: our players’ faces, our coaches’ faces. A lot of pain, a lot of aching going on today.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys: Stephen Jones weighs in