Mike McCarthy on new Cowboys coaches around Dak Prescott: ‘It’s a continuation’
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott finds himself surrounded by a lot of new faces as OTAs get going in Dallas. And not just guys in the offensive huddle, like Brandin Cooks or Luke Schoonmaker or Deuce Vaughn. Even when Prescott gets back to the sideline or the meeting room, he’ll notice there’s been a lot of turnover since last season.
Kellen Moore is gone. So is Doug Nussmeier. As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach respectively, theirs were the voices Prescott heard most often under head coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure over the past three seasons.
Now McCarthy is also his play-caller. Brian Schottenheimer has the OC title and is working with him on installing the game plan. Scott Tolzein is his new quarterbacks coach.
It’s a lot of change, even if most of it is behind the scenes.
But McCarthy doesn’t see it that way.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a transition; I think it’s a continuation,” the coach told reporters Thursday from The Star.
The system, McCarthy stressed, is still designed around Prescott, right down to keeping familiar terminology as the 29-year-old (he’ll turn 30 in July) enters his eighth season under center for the Cowboys.
“We’re still in Dak’s language,” McCarthy confirmed.
And although the assistants speaking that language are new to their day-to-day roles this year, they both have plenty of experience operating within a coaching philosophy that McCarthy has built over three decades in the NFL.
One of McCarthy’s first gigs at the pro level was on the offensive side of the ball for the 1993 Chiefs, supporting none other than Joe Montana.
So McCarthy understands all too well the significance of putting Tolzein, who quarterbacked under him in Green Bay, in the same position now with the field general of the Cowboys’ offensive attack.
“The quarterback room is a critical room in your coaching operations, as far as the design of it, the responsibility,” McCarthy continued. “Really, it’s no different than it was back in the early ’90s: the way I view it, the way we define it, the job description, job responsibility. The quarterback coach is a very significant component of that, maybe one of the most important components. The quarterbacks coach does the heavy lifting. That’s the way I’ve always set it up. That’s the way I was fortunate to go through it when I was a quarterbacks coach. All the extra time on the phone that you spend communicating with your quarterbacks, the little things..”
On the field, Tolzein never exactly lit it up over just ten game appearances in four seasons, going 88-of-146 passing for 1,065 yards, two touchdowns, and nine interceptions as both a Packer and a Colt.
McCarthy brought him to Dallas for his mind, though, rather than his arm.
“Scott is built for this. He was the quarterback, as a player, that if everybody was averaging 150 minutes a week on his iPad, Scott was at 480. Just the way he’s wired. And he has the magnetic personality. Brian Schottenheimer has a great personality. The way that room’s structured is similar to the way I’ve always done it in my past experience. It was a little different with Kellen and Doug, but I just look at it as more of a continuation of what’s already been established.”
An offer for Cowboys fans
For the best local Austin news, sports, entertainment and culture coverage, subscribe to the Austin American-Statesman.
What’s been established is that the Cowboys under Prescott are capable of being among the NFL’s elite. Dallas led the league in total yards, yards per game, total points, and points per game in 2021. Those numbers dipped slightly in 2022, but the team still went 12-5 in the regular season and scored 28 points or more in seven of their outings.
That’s a wheel that McCarthy isn’t looking to re-invent, either.
“If you just look at the history of our offense here, 2020 was really trying to figure out who we wanted to be, with all the pandemic and all the injuries and so forth. I think the evolution from ’21 to ’22 is really the direction we want to continue to build off of. If you look at the statistics of those three years of offense and the area of how we’re going, we’ll continue in that direction.”
It all starts with the quarterback and getting Prescott to make some adjustments to his game, particularly in the interception category. McCarthy is banking on the revamped coaching staff around him being the key.
And he made it perfectly clear- even while fulfilling his media obligations by addressing reporters- that’s where his real focus is.
“I’m here right now,” McCarthy complained. “I’m missing a damn quarterbacks meeting.”
Cowboys might be handling kicker situation the right way after all
Cowboys' Jake Ferguson to attend Tight End University in June
Why it behooves the Cowboys to re-sign Dak Prescott ASAP