Mike McCarthy hasn't started his second head-coaching gig on the best foot.
His Cowboys are 2-4, and after their worst game of 2020, anonymous players started to let their discontent with the coaching staff be known. NFL Network's Jane Slater reported Tuesday two players told her McCarthy's staff is "totally unprepared" and "just aren't good at their jobs."
Like most coaches, McCarthy prefers to keep the airing of grievances in-house, and he definitely doesn't want to give legitimacy to gripes coming from unnamed players.
"The anonymous is something we don't want to recognize," McCarthy said Wednesday, via USA Today's Jori Epstein. "But it's important to recognize anything and everything for a teachable moment."
Veteran linebacker Sean Lee told reporters Wednesday that you can't take anonymous reports seriously.
"You don't know if the person is in the room or not in the room. Maybe they were but aren't now," Lee said, per Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News. "Sometimes, you don't know if it's through a second-hand source. Like, it is a player but maybe it's coming through an agent. You just can't speculate, so you have to just say, 'Listen, the consensus in our locker room, with our defense right now, is that we all need to work hard. We all need to improve. There is no pointing the finger.'
"The only way out of this is to keep faith in each other, and we have that faith. So like we said, anything anonymous, we're not going to worry about that."
McCarthy has answered questions about Slater's report during press conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, and has twice emphasized the importance of speaking within the organization about internal issues.
"That's something that I've never chased, but I think you do have to recognize it," McCarthy said of reports of discontent. "I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I've always stated this to every team that I've coached: I think it's important to handle things as men.
"If you do have something to say publicly that is of most importance, I think it's important to say it to the individual, particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. That's all part of the development of our program, of the system we're installing here."
The system they've installed hasn't produced winning football, and on Monday night, their brand of the game was downright ugly. Arizona dominated Dallas by forcing turnovers, scoring on big plays and stifling the Cowboys' offense, which was only able to muster 10 points in a 28-point defeat. Injuries across the offense have hampered Dallas' attempts to remain competitive, but the excuses -- or valid reasons -- only go so far before folks start looking to the coaching staff for answers.
Right now, McCarthy hasn't provided much beyond coachspeak. With 10 games left, his team has plenty of time to turn things around, even if its recent performance hasn't indicated such an improvement is ahead.
For now, the best McCarthy can do is admit the Cowboys need to be better, and publicly commit himself to making the changes necessary to produce better football. Time will tell whether that appeases his disgruntled team.