FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs in Mike McCarthy’s debut season. In early March, when quarterback Dak Prescott reached a four-year, $160 million extension with the club, the head coach was in Florida for spring break with his family.
Factor in a year without an NFL scouting combine, and McCarthy had not addressed reporters who regularly cover the team in person in 13 months and not at all since the 2020 regular season concluded.
“It’s been a while,” McCarthy said from a podium at The Star, the Cowboys’ suburban training facility, on Thursday.
“Let’s catch up.”
Here are five things we learned from McCarthy’s press conference:
1. ‘The largest change’
McCarthy disputed one reporter’s suggestion that his defensive coaching staff didn’t grade players last season. But he acknowledged that the Cowboys defense was inconsistent in 2020, not finding a groove at all in the first eight weeks – and, even afterward, faltering spectacularly at times.
“You look at our team from 2020 to 2021, the largest change is clearly on defense,” McCarthy said after the D ranked 28th allowing 29.6 points per game and 23rd ceding 386.4 yards.
This year’s scheme will aim to fit players better. Coaches will more intentionally consider how they ration assignment volume after believing change overwhelmed a unit whose timing and alignments often seemed askew. McCarthy pointed to turnovers generated (the Cowboys finished seventh after six seasons at 16th or…