Things are going splendidly in Dallas this season with a 5-1 start providing legitimate hope for the Cowboys that's long been absent.
But one glaring issue keeps rearing its head, threatening to throw a kink in the works — Mike McCarthy's game management. The head coach who joined the Cowboys with a history of making high-stakes blunders and miscalculations keeps doing it. Seemingly every Sunday, there are headlines about McCarthy errors being overshadowed by a win.
It happened again in Week 6, when McCarthy appeared to lose track of what down it was and called a late timeout ahead of a game-tying field goal that needlessly left time for the New England Patriots in regulation. The Patriots didn't capitalize on the long-shot opportunity, and the Cowboys prevailed in overtime, leaving McCarthy off the hook — again.
But the wins haven't stopped owner Jerry Jones from repeatedly facing questions about his coach's well-documented blind spot. Jones defended McCarthy's game management after a Week 3 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He did so again on his weekly Tuesday radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan.
"I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game that you can’t point to aspects of it that are, really, iffy," Jones said. "And sometimes it has a good result, sometimes it doesn’t.
"But overall I’m right in there with Mike on his game management. I think he does it extremely well. But more importantly, I want all of our fans to know how conscientious about how hard he works on it, the detail of situational rehearsal and practice that he does."
The 5-1 record covers up a lot of blemishes, especially when the next-best team in the NFC East is 2-4. The Cowboys are cruising and haven't been bitten by McCarthy's mistakes. This season, at least.
The Cowboys saw their playoff hopes extinguished in 2020 in a late-season loss to the New York Giants. In that game, McCarthy declined to challenge play that should obviously should have been challenged and allowed the Giants to connect on a critical late-game field goal. It was a mistake that Fox announcers and viewers at home widely recognized in real time where McCarthy didn't from the Cowboys sideline — much like the mistakes that have plagued his decision-making this season.
Jones keeps defending McCarthy's mistakes in public. It's the obvious choice. He was loyal to a fault with Jason Garrett and isn't about to pile on his current head coach, especially when he's winning. And as long as the Cowboys keep winning, McCarthy's mistakes will continue to be muted.
But if McCarthy's game management costs the Cowboys in a high-stakes situation, no amount of conscientiousness, hard work or situational rehearsal is going to satisfy a fanbase hungry for success. Nor should it Jones.