News broke earlier this week that the Jacksonville Jaguars were seeking interviews with Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for their head coaching job. They are unlikely to be the only team as applications are subject to new rules allowing teams that have already fired their head coach to get a jump in the process. More will no doubt come calling after the regular season ends and Black Monday rolls around. Understandably, many of the team’s fans aren’t happy about losing either one given how well the season has gone. Moore flexed a lot during the beating of the Washington football team, allaying, at least for now, concerns about how the offense was going. All Quinn did was engineer one of the biggest turnovers in memory for a defense that could barely get off the field a year ago. Seeking to keep one of them, some have proposed that Jerry Jones leave Mike McCarthy and promote one of the two to head coach.

It would be a big mistake.

Rationally, Mike McCarthy should be squarely in the Coach of the Year conversation for taking a team that went 6-10 last season to an 11-4 record, the NFC East crown and leadership contention. serial number one. Yet many still think it’s a problem.

It’s mainly because of how badly things went last season. Some things, like Mike Nolan’s incompetence, fall on his shoulders. Nolan was his choice for defensive coordinator, and it was a disaster. Other things weren’t his fault, like the loss of the entire offseason program and a limited preseason, or the season-ending injuries of Dak Prescott and other key players during the year. Some say all he really did was benefit from a much healthier roster and what turned out to be a relatively weak roster of opponents, including an NFC East that the Cowboys are at. a sweeping victory. Additionally, McCarthy clearly went the CEO route in his approach to personnel, leaving Moore, Quinn, and John Fassel to handle their units’ duties.

We discussed the idea that Mike McCarthy deserves more credit on the latest episode of Ryled Up on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Be sure to subscribe to our podcat network so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

But those things aren’t really reasons to dismiss its value. A head coach is ultimately responsible for the performance of the entire team and staff. Some league members will retain calling and play planning responsibilities for one side of the ball. This is hardly a sure path to success. With Moore, McCarthy made the decision when he was hired to keep the offensive coordinator and leave the game to him. Given the head coach’s past history, this was a change from the way he had operated while running the show with the Green Bay Packers and a real shift from his comfort zone. So far, it’s paying off, despite the unease during the struggles the team has been through through November and even the first three games of the current winning streak. The shredding of Washington’s defense on Sunday night was compelling evidence that these issues could be fixed, and Dallas appears to be hitting its offensive rhythm at exactly the right time. Fassel was also his rookie, and given that Special Teams tied a franchise record for blocked punts and set one for scoring touchdowns, he certainly paid off. He actually created a turnaround with the STs last season that was similar to what Quinn did this year. It was just overshadowed by all the other issues the team was having.

Nolan’s initial hiring was a huge mistake, but not all head coaches would have been so quick and decisive in taking the corrective action. Quinn’s hiring created doubts at the time, as his defense had dropped so much in his final seasons as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. These doubts seem ridiculous now. Part of that is how Quinn, like McCarthy, seems to have really changed her approach. He can be the best coach at any level by adapting his scheme and calling the talent at his fingertips. It certainly helps to have such an overabundance of top players on his defense. DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and Randy Gregory all played superbly, and both Parsons and Diggs deserve to be considered Defensive Player of the Year. The Defensive Rookie of the Year award went to Parsons, who has already set franchise records and threatens some at the league level. But Quinn also got way more than expected from players like Jayron Kearse, Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Brown. He does an outstanding job of putting his players in a position to thrive. It was a departure from the way he ran things in Atlanta, and you have to wonder how much McCarthy contributed. This may have been important, or at least influenced by how McCarthy had done the same.

Give Quinn credit for his accomplishments, but remember that McCarthy is the one who brought him on board. This is related to the fact that the head coach assumes the role of manager of his staff while entrusting a lot to his coordinators.

Part of the lack of recognition of what McCarthy does is rooted in a misperception of the primary work. Like all head coaches, McCarthy makes mistakes in his game day duties, such as clock management and challenges. But that’s such a small part of what he’s tasked with doing. The real work of the head coach and all of his staff happens in the six days between games most weeks. The preparation of the team is something of which we only have a glimpse.

The only time you can really witness it is during open training camp practices. I attended three of them at Oxnard last summer, and there was absolutely no doubt who was responsible. McCarthy was directing all aspects of the practice, which he also planned in advance. It was the loudest voice on the pitch and all ears were listening whether it was a staff member or a player. He led the training sessions and the team, and it’s an obvious conclusion that the training sessions during the season are going the same way.

NFL games are often won or lost through preparation. Many will say with justification that this is the case for almost everyone. Certainly, you must have the talent on the list to carry it through. But we suffered for several seasons before McCarthy came to town when some very talented rosters were wasted. This was long before Jason Garrett too, although 2014 and 2016 were cases under him. Some cite 2009, under Wade Phillips, as one of the most obvious examples.

But building the roster is also part of the head coach’s job. He must define the type of players he wants in partnership with his coordinators. And he has to trust his staff to find the best value for money. The Cowboys have long been focused on the draft, and under McCarthy, they’ve had a few exceptional ones. The past two years have seen CeeDee Lamb, Diggs, Neville Gallimore, Tyler Biadasz, Parsons and Osa Odighizuwa earn starting roles, and Kelvin Joseph showed great promise in his first start against the football team. Chauncey Golston has developed into a fine rotating defensive end and added punt block touchdown recovery to his resume last game. McCarthy didn’t make the mistake of trying to take too much control over the process. With Will McClay heading up the scouting department, it’s clearly the smart choice.

Additionally, McCarthy seems to expertly navigate the unique owner/general manager situation in Dallas. Jerry Jones puts a bigger footprint on his team than any other league owner. Not all head coaches can appeal to their ego enough to make things work. McCarthy manages to do his job without clashing with his boss, or if he does, it’s resolved with minimal drama and great success so far this year. It’s clearly something that head coaches fail every season. This is an underrated aspect of McCarthy’s work.

How far the Cowboys will go in the playoffs remains to be seen. If they don’t make it all the way to Los Angles for the Super Bowl, McCarthy’s criticism will rise again. There is a certain irony in this, because it will put the blame for the failure on him. If someone criticizes him for that, how can we not attribute the team’s success to him as well? Unfortunately, it’s an all-or-nothing league, and only the coach who finally manages to hoist the Lombardi Trophy is seen as truly achieving anything. There are reasons to have high hopes for this year’s edition of the team. It makes any failure more bitter. However, getting to the point of having such expectations is largely down to the head coach. For that, Mike McCarthy deserves respect.