FRISCO, Texas — As Jerry Jones sought the ninth coach in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, winning experience mattered.
The Cowboys are entering their third decade since their most recent Super Bowl victory. And in introducing Mike McCarthy as coach on Wednesday, it was clear Jones believes McCarthy will get his team back to a place it has not been since 1995.
“One of our primary goals in selecting the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys was to focus on a proven team-builder and winner. Someone who’s got a proven track record of winning not only consistently, but at the highest level,” said Jones, the team owner and general manager. “[In] Mike McCarthy, we found a coach who not only checked those boxes, but also has the experience of taking an NFL team to the biggest stage, the Super Bowl, and completing the job.”
The 56-year-old McCarthy, who won one Super Bowl in his 13 years as coach of the Green Bay Packers, said he understands the expectations.
“I’m just going to say this to the fans: The commitment will be unwavering,” McCarthy said. “I won my first Super Bowl here in North Texas at AT&T Stadium. I just want to tell you I am anxious and excited to get to work on winning the next Super Bowl for the Dallas Cowboys.”
McCarthy, who has a 125-77-2 regular-season record, was short on details regarding his staff, although Kellen Moore is expected to remain as offensive coordinator. In addition, Mike Nolan (defensive coordinator), John Fassel (special teams), Jim Tomsula (defensive line) and Joe Philbin (offensive line) will serve under McCarthy.
McCarthy did not want to get into whether Dallas would remain in a 4-3 defensive scheme or if he would call plays on offense, although he did say that how his Cowboys will do things “will be similar to the way I’ve always done it.”
Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb, who played for McCarthy in Green Bay and is scheduled to be a free agent, was among the players in attendance at Wednesday’s news conference. So were Dallas linemen Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Antwaun Woods. Staff circled the atrium at Ford Center at The Star as McCarthy and Jones and his son, Stephen, the Cowboys’ executive vice president, spoke for nearly 48 minutes.
If Wednesday wasn’t about what is to come, it was about the excitement of what McCarthy inherits. He faced both Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, when his Packers ended the Cowboys’ season in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“I’ve always been impressed with him,” McCarthy said of Prescott. “You’re going to able to run the whole offense and then some. I think he has an incredible foundation to build off of. And our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful. That’s the way I’ve learned it. That’s the way I believe you play offense. We have a great one here to work with.”
Elliott has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons and has been the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense.
McCarthy doesn’t expect that to change.
“I think first off with Zeke, he’s going to get the football. Let’s make no mistake about that,” McCarthy said. “I think you have to clearly understand when you saw the offense is going to make a quarterback successful, the best way to make him successful is a great run game. We clearly understand what we have here and how we could build off of that.”
The five-year agreement between the Cowboys and McCarthy came together after an interview that lasted 12 hours on Saturday. It became clear to Jones and his son that McCarthy would be their guy.
As only Jerry Jones can, he spun a family tale to connect to his affection to McCarthy.
“My sister explained to my dad one time when she was explaining why she wanted to divorce,” Jones said. “Dad loved her husband, and he said, ‘What’s gotten into you?’ And she said, ‘I don’t hear bells.’ He said, ‘Bells? Bells? I haven’t heard bells for the last 30 years.’ The bottom line is that is a dad trying to advise his daughter on the right move.
“But the bottom line is, I heard bells.”
McCarthy smiled as Jones told that story and had one of his own about the interview.
“Jerry is telling a story about the purchase of the Dallas Cowboys, and at the end of the story, he leans over to me and he grabs me by the forearm and reaches out to shake my hand and he says, ‘You need to be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys,'” McCarthy said. “I jumped up and hugged him. I’ll stop right there. We had a hell of time.
“Now that’s a moment. And that’s a story I’ll be telling the rest of my life.”
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