Mike McCarthy outlines shocking imaginative and prescient shift for Cowboys’ offense in his play-calling return

INDIANAPOLIS – In jest, Mike McCarthy painted an image of his new actuality.

“I wake up at 3 in the morning every night, thinking about plays,” the Dallas Cowboys head coach joked Wednesday over lunch on the NFL scouting mix. “Most people sing in the shower. I’m calling the final drive of the Super Bowl again. Driving in my car, I’m thinking of plays.”

Laughter ensued on the not-that-crazy-for-football-world imaginative and prescient.

But the truth of McCarthy’s return to play-calling for the primary time in his 4 Dallas seasons is way much less glamorous. Reclaiming play-calling duties after splitting methods with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, McCarthy admits a few of his plans are “not sexy” and don’t “get you the headlines.”

Better ball safety and successful the time-of-possession battle rank excessive amongst McCarthy’s priorities for 2023. Running the ball to alleviate strain on quarterback Dak Prescott and defensive personnel follows shortly after. McCarthy believes that bigger-picture perspective and prioritization will give Dallas an edge as its head coach calls performs for the primary time since 2012.

“I’ve been where Kellen has been,” McCarthy stated. “Kellen wants to light the scoreboard up. But I want to run the damn ball so I can rest my defense. Think when you’re a coordinator, you know but you’re in charge of the offense. Being a head coach and being a play-caller, you’re a little more in tune.

“I don’t desire to be the No. 1 offense in the league. I want to be the No. 1 team in the league with the number of wins and the championship. And if we gotta give up some production and take care of the ball better to get that, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has a preliminary plan for Dallas’ offense within the 2023 season, one that may imply Dak Prescott taking fewer hits. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

How the Cowboys’ offense will change below McCarthy

A productive offense, after all, is extra an asset than a legal responsibility to a crew’s success. But coming off two 12-5 seasons that resulted in early playoff exits (a wild-card and divisional loss, respectively), the Cowboys search to maximise their effectivity greater than productiveness.

Three instances prior to now 4 seasons Dallas has ranked top-6 in scoring, with the offense main the league in yardage twice prior to now 4 years whereas by no means dropping under 14th.

But the Cowboys’ Super Bowl, and even NFC championship, drought has nonetheless prolonged for the reason that 1995 season. McCarthy thinks a much less flashy offense may change that.

“It’s fun as hell to call [pass-heavy] plays, but that’s not the best thing for your team,” McCarthy stated. “Time of possession goes to hell, risk for turnover goes up.

“So we’ve got to get the ball security. We got to secure it better. We need to be a top-five team and that’s a skill.”

The Cowboys’ protection has led the league in takeaways the previous two seasons, however Prescott additionally topped the league with 15 interceptions in simply 12 regular-season video games. He threw two extra within the divisional-round loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The particulars to vary this will likely sound dry, however McCarthy believes they’re tried and true from his profitable 13-year tenure in Green Bay that included a Super Bowl title.

The recipe?

Expect extra stability and extra complementary soccer, that means ample alternatives for working backs like franchise-tag candidate Tony Pollard, likely-to-take-a-pay cut-if-he-stays Ezekiel Elliott or a brand new addition who may arrive by way of the Cowboys’ twenty sixth total decide within the NFL Draft.

Dallas will intention for cleaner pre-snap mannerisms to raised disguise whether or not a run or go awaits, in hopes the protection can’t diagnose Cowboys intentions till after the snap.

And as essential as something: safety schemes that hold the pocket tighter and quarterback footwork extra exact.

Prescott missed 5 video games final season after fracturing his throwing thumb within the season opener, one sport the prior 12 months because of a calf pressure, and 11 in 2020 after a compound fracture and dislocation of his proper ankle.

McCarthy is adamant the Cowboys should scale back the chance their QB will get hit.

“My goal every year as an offensive coach was to make sure the quarterback played in every game,” McCarthy stated. “If Dak Prescott plays in every game next year, I feel we’re going to have a hell of a season.”

‘A new challenge’ for Dak

While philosophies about when to assault horizontally versus vertically may shift, the Cowboys won’t wholly overhaul their offensive assault.

McCarthy plans to maintain many of the language constant for Prescott, whose eighth professional season will likely be his first with out Moore within the constructing. McCarthy estimates a 20-30% variation in offensive ideas from final season to this. He promoted Brian Schottenheimer — who has coordinator expertise with the New York Jets, then-St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks — to offensive coordinator whereas McCarthy retains performs.

McCarthy touted Schottenheimer’s expertise, management and folks expertise as causes he’ll contribute meaningfully. The duo align on offensive ideas realized below Brian Schottenheimer’s father, Marty, the primary head coach to provide McCarthy an NFL alternative. Schottenheimer labored in a guide position for Dallas final season, which McCarthy believes additional permits him to hit the bottom working scheming a personnel assortment with which he’s acquainted.

“We can all use a new voice,” McCarthy stated of Prescott’s new teaching mind belief. “We all can use a sense of motivation and challenge and so forth. This is a new challenge for him, these are his words. He’s very excited about it.”

McCarthy is, too, saying re-establishing the offensive imaginative and prescient has introduced essentially the most enjoyable he’s had for the reason that Cowboys employed him in Jan. 2020.

“The last three years we grew into the offense that I wanted it to be as far as the run/pass combination,” he stated. “And I just feel like we’ll have another variation and hopefully we can take another step.

“Different fastball, different curveball, different changeup.

“I think it will serve us well.”

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