Mike McCarthy's job is safe, and the Jones family will tell you as much until they're blue in the face.
The first-year coach of the Cowboys isn't going anywhere. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning McCarthy's job is considered safe, and Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones reinforced that report with his Monday comments.
"There will be absolutely no change with Coach McCarthy," Jones said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan. "I am surprised someone would question Mike, this unprecedented situation that everyone has been in. On top of that -- no one is making excuses -- but we have had some real challenges in the injury category.
"If you look at his track record and his pedigree, he's consistently won year in and year out. We have the utmost confidence that this ship is going to be righted quickly, and Mike's going to be the leader of this group."
Dallas' ship has been listless for most of 2020, especially after a massive wave crashed over it when Dak Prescott was lost for the season to a compound fracture and dislocated ankle. The Cowboys have since been forced to turn to Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert before welcoming back quality backup Andy Dalton following a concussion and time spent on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
In a season that is all but lost, Dalton and the Cowboys found some sense of direction Sunday in cruising to a 30-7 win over the struggling Bengals. It was encouraging not only because it was a victory in a campaign that has seen few, but also because of how Dallas gained an early lead.
The defensively challenged Cowboys saw Aldon Smith scoop up a fumble and return it 78 yards for a score, and left the rest to the offense. It gained just 272 total yards but produced two touchdown passes for Dalton, who gleefully gestured to his wife seated in a suite at Paul Brown Stadium, which Dalton and his family called home for nine seasons. It was a rare triumphant afternoon for Dallas, giving Jones some added ammunition for backing his team's coach, who hasn't exactly led the Cowboys back to prominence despite expectations.
Changes could still be ahead in the offseason, even if they don't include McCarthy. Dallas' defense ranks 23rd in total yards allowed per game, and is dead last against the run, giving up 162.7 yards per contest on the ground. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lamented his team's struggles in a recent interview, saying he wished he could start over when it came to his team's defense.
As for the head coach, Dallas will proceed with what it has. Prescott's return will undoubtedly fire up the Cowboys' hype train for another offseason full of lofty projections, bringing pressure back to McCarthy's doorstep in his second season. We'll learn in 2021 whether he can meet such expectations.