Mike McCarthy on returning to Cowboys: 'Buy into us'

January 18, 2024, 1:29 PM

FRISCO, Texas -- Mike McCarthy hopes history can repeat itself.

For him to have a long-term future with the Dallas Cowboys, it might have to.

In his fifth year with the Green Bay Packers in 2010, he won Super Bowl XLV. He enters his fifth season as Cowboys head coach in 2024 without any assurance he will be back in 2025 since he is in the final year of his contract.

"I believe that the direction, the leadership, everything is in place," McCarthy said. "And I'm not very comfortable talking about myself, but I came here to win a championship. I didn't come here to get another contract or anything other than that. I came to Dallas to win a world championship, and that's why I'm standing here. Buy into us."

Three days after a disappointing wild-card loss to the Packers at AT&T Stadium, owner and general manager Jerry Jones made McCarthy's return in 2024 official Wednesday with a 260-word statement that lauded McCarthy's regular-season winning percentage and his "demonstrated postseason success," even if it came with the Packers. The Cowboys are just 1-3 in the playoffs under McCarthy.

Jones and McCarthy had a three-hour meeting Wednesday covering things that included the wild-card loss to the Packers, the players and the direction going forward. McCarthy said he did not enter the meeting wondering whether his job was on the line.

"I'll be honest with you: The only thing I worry about is my family," McCarthy said. "I'm extremely confident in who I am. I can't say that enough. So I'm confident in what we've done here and I have great confidence where we're going. That's really how the meeting ended. And not only where we're going but we've got work to do. The job's not finished yet. And we both know that."

McCarthy has posted a 42-25 regular-season record. The Cowboys have won the NFC East twice in the past three years. They have made the playoffs in three straight years, their longest streak since a 1991-96 run in which they won three Super Bowls.

But the Cowboys' Super Bowl drought has now stretched to 28 seasons.

"We have work to do," McCarthy said. "The job is not finished. We know that."

In 2023, McCarthy's first year as the playcaller, the Cowboys led the NFL in scoring (29.9 points) and were No. 5 in yards (371.6). He believes a second year of his system will lead to improvements in 2024. Dak Prescott led the NFL in touchdown passes (36) and completed a career-best 69.9% of his passes, getting named a second-team All-Pro.

But Prescott struggled against the Packers, with two first-half interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown that upped Green Bay's lead to 27-0. Prescott has a 2-5 playoff record.

"I believe in Dak Prescott. I think he's clearly the answer," McCarthy said. "He's part of the solution moving forward, and I think, as difficult as this time is right now, when we can work through this emotional period that we're in, we'll continue to build off of what he brings to the table."

As for his coaching staff, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is interviewing for five head-coaching vacancies. If he gets one of those jobs, the Cowboys would be in the market for a replacement. The only position coach not under contract for 2024 is wide receivers coach Robert Prince, although other changes could come.

McCarthy said he has had preliminary talks with his assistants but expects more formal meetings next week.

Asked whether Quinn would return if he did not get a head-coaching job, McCarthy said, "Dan is a highly valued member of our coaching staff. We'll go through the process here."

After that will come issues on a roster that has 16 players set to become unrestricted free agents, salary cap issues that include Prescott's $59.4 million cap figure, and a draft that will need to shore up problem areas.

But at least McCarthy knows he will be back for one more chance.

"We have established a championship program. It's just not a world championship yet," McCarthy said. "We know how to win. We know how to train to win. We have the right people, but we have not crossed the threshold winning playoff games. It's extremely disappointing to be sitting here talking about, but I know how to win. We will get over that threshold."