Cowboys Coach: Is Mike McCarthy Really an Upgrade Over Jason Garrett?

We have news today that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is meeting with the Dallas Cowboys about their impending vacancy. And while any coach wearing a Super Bowl ring sounds like an upgrade over Jason Garrett, I can’t help but wonder if McCarthy would really move the needle for the Cowboys.

The on-paper stuff is all in McCarthy’s favor, of course. Just consider the following comparison from Mike’s time in Green Bay (2006-2018) versus Garrett’s tenure (2010-2019) in Dallas:

  • Super Bowl wins McCarthy 1, Garrett 0
  • NFC Championship wins McCarthy 1, Garrett 0
  • NFC Championship appearances McCarthy 4, Garrett 0
  • Playoff appearances McCarthy 9, Garrett 3
  • Regular season win percentage McCarthy 62%, Garrett 56%
  • Head-to-head wins (including playoffs) McCarthy 5, Garrett 1

So yeah, McCarthy has trumped Garrett in all of the tangible, easily identifiable ways. But there’s a key element in this that can’t be ignored.

Mike McCarthy had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. One is already in the Hall of Fame and the other is a lock for Canton.

As great as Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have been, neither can claim to rival those great Packers passers. And in the modern era of the NFL, QB talent is the driving force behind success.

What scares me about Mike McCarthy is that, many times during his coaching tenure in Green Bay, I heard the complaint from Packers fans that he was wasting the best years of Rodgers’ career. In fact, many have argued that only getting one Super Bowl victory out of one of the best quarterbacks of all time was a failure.

In fact, just look at what happened this year for Green Bay. In their first full season without McCarthy, the Packers went 13-3 and won the competitive NFC North. Rodgers even had one of his worst years but still the team flourished.

You can’t help but look at that and wonder if McCarthy’s accolades are really his, or if he was just a guy lucky enough to coach legendary quarterbacks.

Remember, Favre was already deified before McCarthy ever got to Green Bay. Mike was an assistant with other teams before taking the head job with the Packers, so he had no hand in Brett’s development.

Rodgers was a first-round pick so the talent was already known to be there. And even if McCarthy did help Aaron achieve greatness, their relationship eventually became so toxic that it was a national story.

Say what you want about Jason Garrett but that hasn’t been an issue with him. If anything, he may have been too close with Tony Romo at times.

Here’s how I look at it; take Garrett’s coaching tenure and give him Aaron Rodgers for those nine seasons. How much does that win percentage go up? How many more times does Dallas make the playoffs and how much further do they advance?

You could make a strong case that Garrett and the Cowboys would’ve won a Super Bowl with Rodgers quarterbacking some of their best rosters.

Yes, that statement is an indictment of Mike McCarthy and his taking over as head coach in Dallas.  Will he really be something more than Jason Garrett was, or just more of the same?

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