As I type this, nearly 72 hours have passed since Jerry Jones went on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] and left Mike McCarthy twisting in the wind. No endorsement for a job well done, no vote of confidence going forward, not much of anything regarding his head coach beyond a pet peeve about using the offseason to fix the Cowboys’ invasive penalty issue.
Beyond the entertainment value of Jones’ 22-minute interview on the station, the relevant question is this: Did it mean anything?
There are two possibilities. One is that, five days after the club’s loss to San Francisco, Jones was still so ticked off at his head coach that he didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of hearing that everything is OK and that he will, indeed, have a job here in 2022. And upon re-listening, I think that is the more likely answer to this riddle. With Jones, you tread lightly through the mine field of his ambiguity, but if forced to take a side, I would probably choose this one.
Jones is still mad, but nothing is going to happen. End of story.
The other possibility — and I do believe it’s real — is that, as the owner said, nothing compelled him to make any announcement Friday morning. His evaluation is ongoing. The primary reason for any hesitation on his part is that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was having his fifth head coaching interview Monday, this one with the New York Giants. He already has interviewed with Chicago, Minnesota, Denver and Miami.
Should Quinn be offered one of these positions, Jones could try to cancel his exit by offering him the top job here. I don’t think this is something Jones is inclined to do or that he would see as a major upgrade, so it probably won’t happen. But I also don’t think Jones believes McCarthy has really done anything to suggest this is a terrible idea, trading out one veteran coach for another in order to maintain some of the positive feelings Quinn generated as this club developed a much more aggressive, turnover-creating defense.
I find it funny that critics of this notion get overly worked up about how Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead to New England in the Super Bowl five years ago when Quinn was head coach, rather than debate how much of the responsibility for that collapse belongs on the shoulders of the offensive play-caller at the time, Kyle Shanahan (answer is a lot). That game is no more relevant to the Cowboys’ future than is the Super Bowl that McCarthy won in Arlington 11 years ago. In today’s game, both are the ancient history of other teams. Coaches thrive and fail mostly based on the particular talent they inherit and collect in different situations.
Quinn got fired after an 0-5 start in 2020, and he still had a winning record. In Atlanta. Let’s not pretend his head coaching experience was the same as Rod Marinelli’s.
We have seen Quinn come to Dallas and do rather well. I don’t want to overstate it because this defense is hardly perfect, but it was a nice upgrade from a year ago. To think he could lead this team in the same manner as McCarthy and perhaps do a little better is not a crazy idea. I believe it’s the only change Jones would consider because the club has an enormous number of coaches under contract. If you changed McCarthy out for Quinn, you would not be forced to eat millions in other contracts beyond the head coach’s.
At the same time, that’s probably the best reason Quinn would have for going elsewhere. If he is liked well enough in one of the other five cities, he can build his own staff. In addition, depending upon the job, time will be on his side. Four of those teams had losing records and Miami was 9-8. Expectations are different than they are here where 2022 will be evaluated based on whether or not the Cowboys reach that elusive NFC Championship Game.
My best guess, though, is that Jones has resigned himself to another season of status quo on the coaching staff. It’s not something he’s excited to announce, and he surely didn’t want to sound as if he’s indifferent about the entire mess.
In over 30 years of being around the Dallas owner, I have found only two criticisms that truly bother him. The second biggest one is that he and son Stephen Jones are all about making money and not winning. That will anger either one of them in a hurry. And while I consider it a huge overstatement, there is no getting around the fact, and there never will be, that 31 general managers and personnel directors compete with their jobs on the line each year.
The Jones Boys do not.
The other criticism, the one that will have Jerry coming over the table at you, is to suggest the three Lombardi Trophies earned in the ‘90s were solely the work of Jimmy Johnson and that nothing good has been achieved (beyond Barry Switzer winning one title with Jimmy’s players) since his departure.
And it’s that criticism — again an overstatement of how things were although Jerry certainly wasn’t sitting next to Jimmy in coaches’ meetings in 1992 — that keeps the owner from settling in comfortable with his current head coach. There’s only one way to kill that criticism for good, and Jerry has been searching for that answer for a quarter of a century.
Every Super Bowl MVP since 1967
As Super Bowl LIII approaches, PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, looks back at the history of the award to highlight the winner from each season.
There are 21 Super Bowl MVP winners currently in the Hall of Fame, with future locks (like Tom Brady, Ray Lewis and Aaron Rodgers) to follow. Brady is one of five players to win the award multiple times, along with Bart Starr (twice), Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times) and Eli Manning (twice).
#1. Super Bowl I: QB Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
Game score: Packers 35, Chiefs 10
Game stats: 16/23, 250 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
#2. Super Bowl II: QB Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
Game score: Packers 33, Raiders 14
Game stats: 13/24, 202 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
#3. Super Bowl III: QB Joe Namath, New York Jets
Game score: Jets 16, Colts 7
Game stats: 17/28, 206 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
#4. Super Bowl IV: QB Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs
Game score: Chiefs 23, Vikings 7
Game stats: 12/17, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
#5. Super Bowl V: LB Chuck Howley, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Colts 16, Cowboys 13
Game stats: 2 interceptions, 22 yards
#6. Super Bowl VI: QB Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
Game stats: 12/19, 119 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
#7. Super Bowl VII: S Jake Scott, Miami Dolphins
Game score: Dolphins 14, Redskins 7
Game stats: 2 interceptions, 63 yards
#8. Super Bowl VIII: RB Larry Csonka, Miami Dolphins
Game score: Dolphins 24, Vikings 7
Game stats: 33 attempts, 145 yards, 2 TD
#9. Super Bowl IX: RB Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 16, Vikings 6
Game stats: 34 attempts, 158 yards, 1 TD
#10. Super Bowl X: WR Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
Game stats: 4 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD
#11. Super Bowl XI: WR Fred Biletnikoff, Oakland Raiders
Game score: Raiders 32, Vikings 14
Game stats: 4 catches, 79 yards
#12. Super Bowl XII: DE Harvey Martin & DT Randy White, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 27, Broncos 10
Martin game stats: 2.0 sacks
White game stats: 1.0 sack
#13. Super Bowl XIII: QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
Game stats: 17/30, 318 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
#14. Super Bowl XIV: QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 31, Rams 19
Game stats: 14/21, 309 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
#15. Super Bowl XV: QB Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders
Game score: Raiders 27, Eagles 10
Game stats: 13/21, 261 yards, 3 TD
#16. Super Bowl XVI: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 26, Bengals 21
Game stats: 14/22, 157 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
#17. Super Bowl XVII: RB John Riggins, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 27, Dolphins 17
Game stats: 38 attempts, 166 yards, 1 TD
#18. Super Bowl XVIII: RB Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders
Game score: Raiders 38, Redskins 9
Game stats: 20 attempts, 191 yards, 2 TD
#19. Super Bowl XIX: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
Game stats: 24/35, 331 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
#20. Super Bowl XX: DE Richard Dent, Chicago Bears
Game score: Bears 46, Patriots 10
Game stats: 1.5 sacks
#21. Super Bowl XXI: QB Phil Simms, New York Giants
Game score: Giants 39, Broncos 20
Game stats: 22/25, 268 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
#22. Super Bowl XXII: QB Doug Williams, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 42, Broncos 10
Game stats: 18/29, 340 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
#23. Super Bowl XXIII: WR Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Game stats: 11 catches, 215 yards, 1 TD
#24. Super Bowl XXIV: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 55, Broncos 10
Game stats: 22/29, 297 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT
#25. Super Bowl XXV: RB Ottis Anderson, New York Giants
Game score: Giants 20, Bills 19
Game stats: 21 attempts, 102 yards, 1 TD
#26. Super Bowl XXVI: QB Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 37, Bills 24
Game stats: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
#27. Super Bowl XXVII: QB Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 52, Bills 17
Game stats: 22/30, 273 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT
#28. Super Bowl XXVIII: RB Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 30, Bills 13
Game stats: 30 attempts, 132 yards, 2 TD
#29. Super Bowl XXIX: QB Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco rookie receiver Danny Gray found the ideal workout partner before the draft to prepare him to play with the 49ers' strong-armed quarterback, Trey Lance. It just happened to be a former 49ers quarterback known for his ability to throw with velocity. Gray was part of a group of receivers who worked out with Colin Kaepernick in Dallas. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since his final year with the 49ers in 2016 when he made headlines after he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Desmond Ridder is making an impact with his leadership at the Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp. That starts with the quarterback from Cincinnati being the first one up in his apartment he is sharing with three other rookies. Ridder, a third-round pick, has made an impact in minicamp by quickly learning the playbook. He also has impressed by demonstrating his leadership in practice. Ridder will compete with Marcus Mariota, who is the favorite to start for the Falcons this season. Ridder, the second quarterback selected in last month's NFL draft, will have an opportunity to show he could be the team's long-term starter.
Tennessee rookie quarterback Malik Willis says his new teammate Ryan Tannehill is a good dude. Titans coach Mike Vrabel then dismissed any lingering issue over his veteran pointing out the obvious. Tannehill is the Titans’ starting quarterback. Tannehill is not a mentor or a coach. Vrabel says Tannehill's job is to help the Titans win a bunch of games. Tannehill ticked off people May 3 saying he didn’t think it was his job to mentor Willis. The third-round draft pick out of Liberty says he went to Tannehill's house with other players for dinner this week. Willis says he “chopped it up” with Tannehill.
Punter Matt Araiza arrived in Buffalo for the start of Bills rookie camp practices disappointed in the weather. A picturesque 85-degree day in May was not what college football's “Punt God” was anticipating. Araiza was hoping to get a head start on experiencing the cold and swirling winds he might be facing come fall. The Bills selected Araiza in the sixth round of the draft after the left-footed kicker set the major college football record by averaging more than 51 yards per punt at San Diego State.
To the Super Bowl winner goes the spoils of opening the entire schedule at home. So the Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, Sept. 8, to begin the 2022 season. It’s a juicy matchup of the team generally considered the title favorite by oddsmakers in the Bills traveling to SoFi Stadium, where the Rams won the championship over Cincinnati in February.
Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas tells The Associated Press he and several former teammates are coming together in Buffalo this week to help support families of the shooting victims. Among those players expected to make the trip are Hall of Famers defensive end Bruce Smith and receiver Andre Reed, along with Thomas and Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who like Thomas lives in the area. Thomas and his wife, Patti, said their family foundation has raised more than $100,000 to help the city and its residents in the aftermath of the shooting that killed 10 people.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have met their ESPN co-workers for the first time as they prepare to take over in the “Monday Night Football” booth. Both said Monday they are excited about the challenge of doing something new after 20 seasons together at Fox. Aikman had considered a deal with Amazon to call Thursday night games while reducing his schedule at Fox. But the logistics of that arrangement became difficult, and ESPN began talking to him about moving to Monday nights. Once Aikman was on board, ESPN snagged Buck from Fox, where he had a year left on his contract. Buck says the parting was amicable.
Chris Olave just arrived in New Orleans. Michael Thomas will be returning soon. The two former Ohio State stars are central figures in a rebuilt Saints receiving corps designed to improve the NFL’s least productive passing game in 2021 with 187.4 yards per game. Olave was the Saints’ top draft choice last month and No. 11 overall. He caught 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Buckeyes last season. He’s getting his first taste of the NFL as he participates in New Orleans’ rookie minicamp this weekend. Olave also spent a week and a half in Los Angeles working with Thomas.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy talks to Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on the sidelines in practice during training camp at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters at The Star in Frisco, Texas on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning/TNS)