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Cowboys continue to lack cohesion

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy needs to turn the Cowboys around and he has not been able to get the team over the hump yet. They have a great team, but can they become more cohesive?
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy needs to turn the Cowboys around and he has not been able to get the team over the hump yet. They have a great team, but can they become more cohesive?

Even since head coach Jimmy Johnson left Dallas, the Cowboys have lacked cohesion. There is always a lot of individual “star-power,” but it is always left looking like a jig-saw puzzle with pieces that never quite fit together.

The results have been a 25-year Super Bowl drought for the most financially valuable franchise in the National Football League (valued at $6.5 billion). There is no question, if money could buy another Super Bowl championship, Jerry Jones would make it happen. 

Yesterday, my wife Samantha (who is a Cowboys fan) and I watched the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, and even me, a fan of the Washington Football Team teared up listening to the aging Jones speak. It was like listening to the words of an embattled warrior emperor who deeply thirsted for the taste of victory just one more time. 

“We’re back, here we are back, we’re back to business,” said Jones. “We’re back to training camp and getting this team ready to play. I would right now if I could, and if I knew had a good chance to do it, I would do anything known to man to get in a Super Bowl, that’s a fact.” 

Jones’ words were like a fire that still burns in his gut to win. His words sounded compelling and his words made me want to reach out to him and request to meet with him – – because I have the plan that can win it all for him. 

I know former star Dallas quarterback, Troy Aikman, also has his sights set on becoming the general manager of the Cowboys, but so far the head coach he heavily endorsed for the Cowboys’ head coaching job does not fit. In fact, Aikman’s endorsement of McCarthy looks downright awkward. Right when the announcement was even made that he was coming in to take over for Jason Garrett, I thought it was a bizarre hire. I even see McCarthy as less of a fit after watching the first episode of Hard Knocks

The thing I love about Hard Knocks is it shows the behind the scenes stuff and it also airs some of a team’s uncensored dirty laundry. We, as fans, get to be that proverbial “fly on the wall.” 

I remember watching the 2018 Cleveland Browns on Hard Knocks and the division within the ranks jumped off the television screen. Sure enough, the 7-8-1 house divided fell apart and their head coach, Hue Jackson was shown the door. 

I see the same kind of thing happening to the 2021 Dallas Cowboys – – Mike McCarthy is going to get fired at the end of this season, maybe even before. If that does happen, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will be named as the team’s interim head coach. 

As I watched the first episode of Hard Knocks with my wife, a few things stood out to me about McCarthy:

1. There appears to be no genuine connection between McCarthy and the players he interacts with, especially quarterback Dak Prescott. Interactions between the two of them at training camp are noticeably “off.” 

2. McCarthy is often shown off by himself at practice and he looks and feels more like “an outsider,” rather than the leader of this team. 

3. McCarthy’s speech to his team was downright bizarre and not received all that well by his players. 

McCarthy’s talk with his team brought back to my mind vivid memories of watching the meek sounding high-pitched voice of former Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett when we watched him speaking to the team. I turned to Samantha and said, “Look at the looks on the player’s faces as Garett is speaking. He’s not a leader of men, nobody is going to respond to that.” 

I was just as struck by McCarthy’s speech to this year’s Dallas Cowboys team:

“Every one of us is from somewhere and we’re from someone. I’m Greenfield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217. Everything we’ve done in the past because it’s hard not to reflect on what we went through last year. Alright, fuck last year. You’ve seen the schedule, we have four preseason games, 17 regular-season games, and then we have the tournament, okay, that’s what this thing is all about. So, let’s not waste each other’s time here, because we don’t have a lot of time here doing the hard stuff that we need to do to get to where we want to go. ‘Charlie Fuck-Around,’ you don’t work here, okay, ‘High School Harry,’ get his fuckin’ ass out the door. This is about winning and winning a world championship, period, period because that’s all that matters. Going to the playoffs isn’t good enough, having a winning season is not good enough, getting to the championship game, not good enough, okay, cause it takes everybody, and you may be tired of hearing this, I’ve been a part of one championship team. I’ve stood in front of one championship team. It took 77-men to win a world championship and that’s just the way this thing goes – and once you hold that fuckin’ trophy up, I’m going to tell you something, it’s heavier than you think it is.”

The team’s reaction spoke volumes to me as McCarthy spoke and the camera panned his audience. Nobody looked remotely inspired. It was not one of those famous football speeches where everyone jumps to their feet and runs out the door to the field.

Some of the faces intently gave McCarthy their attention, others looked like, “sure, okay coach, whatever,” and star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s eyes were perhaps the most telling as he looked down as McCarthy was speaking. He had this blank, what in the …. look on his face. 

I also felt McCarthy’s tone of voice was not convincing as he spoke. It did not come across or resonate with me that what he was saying was genuine. It just did not come across right. It came across as an act. 

I like Dak a lot. I gave him a blue-chip grade when I evaluated him in 2019, and I love the courage and desire he is showing in his comeback. Prescott is a leader in the truest sense of the word. His maturity and poise is off the charts. 

However, once again, there is a lack of cohesion on this team – – and once again, the pieces of the Dallas Cowboys do not fit together. 

It is going to take a lot more than someone like McCarthy to put this championship puzzle together.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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