Dallas Cowboys: No Mike McCarthy – No Problem

Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Some will take this as Mike McCarthy slander and become upset. Others will take this as Mike McCarthy slander and nod in agreement. When in reality this is not slander at all, simply me downplaying the importance of Mike McCarthy on game day for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys in the midst of possibly the largest COVID outbreak the NFL has seen this year. Multiple coaches and players have popped positive. Some vaccinated. Others unvaccinated. The latest victim of a positive test is none other than the big guy himself, Mike McCarthy.

Dallas Cowboys fans shouldn’t be concerned that Mike McCarthy will miss Thursday’s game against the Saints.

Replacing McCarthy as head coach appears to be Dan Quinn. While an acting head coach has the ability to completely botch key decisions, the position itself isn’t as critical as some might have you believe. At least it shouldn’t be…

Mike McCarthy’s best traits as a head coach aren’t his game management but rather his leadership throughout the week and his even keel through the many highs and lows of the season.

McCarthy has kept the Dallas Cowboys focused throughout the season through all the peaks and valleys this year has offered. From injuries to suspensions. From a six-game winning streak to losing three-of-four, McCarthy has kept things calm and focused. The importance of which cannot be understated.

If you play the odds, more often than not, you win. That’s how casinos make money after all

He’s even empowered his high profile coordinators (Kellen Moore, Dan Quinn, and John Fassel) to take extra large roles in the organization and to accept extra large amounts of praise. Such has brought on scrutiny regarding what McCarthy really brings to the table.

All of these things will maintain with a McCarthy absence. He’s still the leader and tone setter whether he’s in person or virtual. What changes is what happens on the sideline during the game.

McCarthy’s worst trait as a head coach is often thought to be his in-game decision making. Whether it’s going for it on fourth down, calling fake punts, use of time outs, or overall clock management, McCarthy has drawn a heavy amount of criticism on game days.

So if there’s one responsibility to replace, it’s actually pretty good his weakest job responsibility is the one being replaced, right?

As of now, it appears Dan Quinn will be replacing McCarthy on the sideline. Whether that changes or not doesn’t matter much because as we mentioned before, acting head coach doesn’t have to be tough if he just knows where to look for managing those critical in-game situations.

With Kellen Moore managing the offense, whoever serves as the Dallas Cowboys head coach gains an advantage. Even if it stays Dan Quinn, having Moore allows him to narrow his focus on critical situations.

acting head coach doesn’t have to be tough if he just knows where to look for managing those critical in-game situations.

And critical decisions just happen to be some of the easiest to solve sideline dilemma these days. With a wealth of data over the past 20-years at our disposal, we can run probabilities for just about every situation imaginable, all in real time.

Should the Dallas Cowboys go for it or punt it? There’s an app for that. Should they run it early or pass it early, There’s an app for that. Should they blitz, go for two, kill the clock, etc… There are probabilities available to consult for all of these so the wise decision can be made.

Look at it this way: Would you rather flip a coin and hope it lands on heads or roll a dice and hope it shows one or three? One offers a 50% success rate while the other offers a 33% success rate? Probabilities matter.

In much the same way we can determine whether a run on first down is better or worse than a pass on first down. Or whether a 56-yard field goal attempt helps the win probability or hurts the win probability. A wise man goes with the odds more often than not, wouldn’t you say?

Contrary to many people’s opinion, Mike McCarthy’s aggressive nature on fourth down is actually pretty darn good.  If anything, he could stand to go for it a little more often and avoid more of those unhelpful kick attempts and punts.

Clock management could use major improvement but like fourth down aggressiveness and play-calling, clock management also can decided with probabilities. You see, much of these critical decisions from the sideline can be handled logically and don’t need someone’s “gut” or a wealth of experience.

If you play the odds more often than not, you win. That’s how casinos make money after all.

With Kellen Moore calling plays on offense and Dan Quinn calling plays on defense the Dallas Cowboys are stable regardless. The acting head coach really just has to manage the probabilities and that can all be calculated in an instant. It’s when we ignore the odds that we make things tough on ourselves and muck things up.

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Replacing Mike McCarthy on game day doesn’t have to be a problem. If you do it right it’s one of the easiest things to do. Trust the odds, follow the probabilities, and if the call looks bad, throw the red flag.