The 2024 Cowboys are walking into a psychological trap

When Jerry Jones decided in late January to bring Mike McCarthy back for the 2024 season, I immediately thought of the similar decision he made with Wade Phillips after the 2009 season, and all the ramifications that followed in the 2010 season.

In Jan, 2010 the Cowboys had been destroyed in the divisional round of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion by the Brett Favre led Vikings 34-3. Most believed Wade’s time in Big D as head coach was clearly at an end. It should have been. Jerry ran it back for the 2010 season. And that team went 1-5 to start the year, then they lost Romo for the season in mid-October and ended up 1-7 after that humiliating loss to GB on national TV where it was obvious the team had quit on Wade Phillips.

Jerry of course followed the bad decision to keep Wade on another year by hiring Jason Garrett for the next 9.5 seasons. But that’s a whole different story for another time.

What concerns me for the 2024 season is having Big Mac and his coaches all on essentially one year deals. Because it sets up a psychological trap for the players that inherently comes along with that:

  • What if this team starts the season 3-5? Will the players begin to believe it’s all for nothing to keep fighting if they know Big Mac and staff are gone in 2025?
  • This scenario puts more pressure on a team and its coaching staff to win early or the slide into a 2010 type scenario that could easily follow.
  • If the front office extends Dak 2-3 more years, what happens to the future of this team if they fail early next year?

IMO, Mike McCarthy is a far better coach than Wade Phillips was and is more respected by the players. But how difficult will it be for the players to continue to fight for Mac if team gets off to a rough start knowing he has one leg out the door?

I respect Mike McCarthy and what he had done here. But this owner did him and the team no favors with this one year thing hanging over the season. Then follows that up with their usual standing pat routine while the rest of the league is reloading.

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