Mike McCarthy didn’t leave the greatest first impression in his first year as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys went 6-10, finishing third in the NFC East.
Dallas missed the postseason for the second straight season.
Of course, there were some factors working against McCarthy.
Star quarterback Dak Prescott missed all but five games with an ankle injury.
But while McCarthy might have gotten a pass offensively, the Cowboys were one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL last season.
They ranked 23rd in yards allowed with 6,183 and perhaps most damning of all, allowed 473 points.
That is the most all-time in Cowboys history for a single season.
Cowboys fans went through 10 seasons of Jason Garrett and are waiting for extended success.
If McCarthy doesn’t improve, and improve drastically for these reasons, his stay in Dallas might be a short one.
The Boys Are Back In Town
We’ll start with the negative, Prescott is getting an MRI on his shoulder.
It's not a setback.
And it's not a reason to worry.
But QB Dak Prescott is planning on getting another MRI.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 12, 2021
While Cowboys fans are on the edge of their set, Prescott still has his eyes set on being ready for Week 1.
Even if he misses the first game, Prescott should be back as the Cowboys starter in short order.
Surrounding Prescott is a litany of tantalizing offensive weapons.
At running back, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best and most aggressive rushers in the league.
Overall, assuming everyone is healthy, Dallas could have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
If they struggle due to play-calling, McCarthy would squander a huge opportunity.
After last season’s disaster almost anything would be an improvement defensively for the Cowboys.
However, Dallas went out and brought in two major pieces who should be able to help immediately.
First, they signed former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
While he struggled with the Falcons at the end of his tenure, Quinn is still a respected defensive mind in the NFL.
Quinn was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator during their “Legion of Boom” days.
Seattle led the league in defense and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013-2014.
Even with Atlanta, Quinn helped led the Falcons to the 2017 Super Bowl.
In 2017, the Falcons finished ninth in the NFL in yards allowed at 5,094.
Quinn’s arrow might be down because of how his time with Atlanta ended, but he is still a huge addition for the Cowboys.
Next is first-round pick Micah Parsons, who was selected No. 12 overall.
Parsons was an All-American, First-Team Big Ten, and the 2019 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year before being considered one of the best defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft.
So far, he has made a strong impression on the Cowboys.
Micah Parsons first fumble recovery of NFL career! pic.twitter.com/pvdjYYkgh8
— Barstool Penn State (@PSUBarstool) August 6, 2021
Parsons should be an immediate starter on defense for the Cowboys and a player they count on to make an early impact.
While one coach and one player won’t completely turn around last year’s defense, Quinn and Parsons should bring improvements.
If the defense again struggles, that will fall on McCarthy’s shoulders.
McCarthy is coaching one of the most prolific teams in the NFL.
They’re called America’s Team for a reason.
Ownership and fans alike won’t tolerate another Garrett-esqe tenure that leads to no real playoff success.
Calls for McCarthy to be on the hot seat have been rampant.
— Bill Ingram (@TheRocketGuy) July 3, 2021
McCarthy has to understand the fanbase and team he is working for.
If he lets the Cowboys’ struggles linger, it is hard to see him getting the 10-year leash that Garrett did.NEXT: Cowboys Are Smart To Slowly Ease Dak Prescott Into Game Action