Mike McCarthy’s first season as Dallas Cowboys Head Coach did not go as planned in 2020. That is true of many things in such a crazy year in every sense of the word. Regardless, Dallas was the favorite to win the NFC East last season before Dak Prescott’s injury. That didn’t happen once the defense showed its flaws as well.

Now, in 2021, hopes are high once again. That’s nothing new for America’s Team, though. Dak is back and so is the offensive line. The defense has a new coordinator and a few new pieces to help them take strides. There’s really only one way for the defense to go, and it is up.

Now, it is important to remember that former Cowboys HC Jason Garrett got a long leash with Jerry Jones. Many felt that Garrett did not ever do much to elevate the team and talent that he had. A Garrett-led Dallas team never made it past the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Five of his nine seasons resulted in an 8-8 or 9-7 record. Four of those were 8-8.

McCarthy will have to nip that in the bud early on in his tenure in order to gain more trust from Cowboys fans. He has to show this season that his offense can be innovative and use all the weapons that it possesses. Luckily, that’ll include Blake Jarwin this year as he returns from injury.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard must show more consistency under McCarthy this year, too. That gives the offense the balance it needs, and it may help the defense in some ways as well. The offense needs to continue the success it had before Prescott’s injury last year.

Is McCarthy truly on the hot seat? I wouldn’t go that far in comparison to some other coaches around the league. Bengals HC Zac Taylor or Bears HC Matt Nagy come to mind first in regards to that.

Although, in a division that seems to be wide open again and probably a bit weaker than others, McCarthy’s team has the opportunity to take it. That is, if health doesn’t completely throw a wrench in it. McCarthy had a great season in his second year in Green Bay, going 13-3 and making the NFC Championship game. That jump would be hefty for Dallas, but it would certainly be nice for the team and its fans.

A successful season based on the roster may be debatable. Do they have the depth on defense to take them on a deep playoff run? Not necessarily. The offense will most likely be elite again, though. It may be enough, if the defense even makes small improvements, to take the NFC East crown. Anything more than that would probably be a pleasant surprise for them.

McCarthy’s seat is probably just luke-warm right now. If the Cowboys come out of the gates slow, though, that chair might get scooted a little closer to the furnace.

 

Featured Image via USA TODAY-Sports

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