LaCanfora: ‘I’d be shocked’ if Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy survives wild-card loss

LaCanfora: ‘I’d be shocked’ if Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy survives wild-card loss

The Cowboys’ postseason opener is obviously a must-win game if Dallas is to make a run at a sixth Lombardi Trophy to put in the lobby of The Star. But this Sunday’s wild-card showdown could also be a make-or-break moment for the Cowboys coaching staff.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has led the team to a third straight 12-win finish, something no one else in franchise history has done. But that still may not be enough to guarantee his return for the 2024 season, according to one NFL insider and the league execs he’s spoken to.

On Thursday, the Washington Post‘s Jason LaCanfora framed the McCarthy situation in the simplest possible terms:

“I’d be shocked if he kept his job should the Cowboys … lose on Sunday at home.”

Firing a coach who has a Super Bowl title on his résumé, a .627 record since coming to town, and a year remaining on his current contract might seem a wee bit drastic to those who feel just reaching the playoffs is enough. For the Cowboys faithful who have been clamoring for a return to championship glory for longer than most of the team’s current players have been alive, though, the wait has been long enough.

Same goes for 81-year-old owner Jerry Jones, writes LaCanfora:

“Jones believes he has a Super Bowl roster, again, while McCarthy’s past foibles winning big games and managing high-tension situations remain front of mind. He won the NFC East despite going just 2-2 down the stretch, due largely to [the Eagles’] epic collapse, and good luck finding a personnel executive or coach around the league who doesn’t believe that if Jones needed a head coach, he would do whatever it takes to hire defensive coordinator Dan Quinn after Quinn pulled out of head coaching consideration elsewhere a year ago to stay in Dallas.”

Quinn, of course, is a popular name once again for the 2024 hiring cycle, with the Panthers, Commanders, Chargers, and Titans all having formally requested an interview with him for their open head coach positions.

And that list doesn’t even include the Seahawks job. Quinn was immediately seen by most as the obvious front-runner to take over for Pete Carroll, given Quinn’s rise to prominence in creating Seattle’ famed Legion of Boom defense over a decade ago.

But Jones was able to retain Quinn on-staff in Dallas the past two offeseasons, with plenty of observers interpreting it as a way to keep Quinn in-house… in the event of a housecleaning.

One NFL exec LaCanfora spoke with under the condition of anonymity agreed.

“Mike needs to win this game, and everybody on that staff knows it,” said the unnamed GM. “The next man up is already there.”

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Per league rules, Quinn would not be allowed to meet in-person with another club before the conclusion of the divisional round of the playoffs. But if LaCanfora and his sources are to be believed, things in Cowboys Nation may have already blown up by then.

Even if the Cowboys handle their business as favorites over Green Bay in the wild-card round, McCarthy’s job status will be a rinse-and-repeat hypothetical question a week later. And then again if they advance to the conference championship; don’t think getting mopped by San Francisco in the NFC title game would be seen as any sort of improvement by the decision-makers in the organization.

It’s win or go home for the Cowboys from here on out. And just maybe for their head coach, too.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire