Heads are sure to roll after another early playoff exit by the Cowboys.
Following the 48-32 loss to the Packers on Sunday, Dallas’ season came to a thud of an ending in a showing that surely won’t make team owner Jerry Jones very pleased.
The Cowboys’ 28-year Super Bowl drought will continue and the team’s inability to make it beyond the divisional round of the playoffs is yet another black eye for a team that’s had 12 wins in three straight seasons but no hardware to show for it.
“This seems like the most painful [playoff loss] because we all had such great expectation and we had hope for this team,” Jones told reporters after the loss. “Thought that we were aligned and in great shape and it didn’t happen for us.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy continues to find himself on the hot seat despite the team’s regular season success and even after he took over the offensive playcalling this year, in which Dak Prescott led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes.
But McCarthy has never found a way to translate the regular season success into the postseason.
Jones, who said he was “floored” but the loss, did little to cool that seat off after the game either, saying that he wouldn’t address any player or coaching decisions.
“I know where the responsibilities start and end and I’ve got that real clear and I know that,” Jones said.
He told the assembled media waiting to talk with him that “I haven’t thought one second” about McCarthy’s future, according to The Athletic’s Michael Gehlken.
Plenty of established and even Super Bowl-winning coaching option are available starting with former Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick and ex-Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, along with fired Titans coach Mike Vrabel.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh appears open to jumping back into the NFL, too.
The speculation around the Cowboys and Belichick will likely take off in the coming days if McCarthy is indeed fired.
The Cowboys head coach is 11-10 in the playoffs over his career, but he’s coached Dallas to just one win — a 34-14 victory over the Buccaneers in the wild-card round last year — in four postseason games.
Furthermore, the embarrassing nature in which the Cowboys were knocked out this year could weigh on any decision made by Jones in regards to McCarthy’s future.
The Cowboys were held to just seven points in the first half of the game and that touchdown only came in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
But it won’t be McCarthy who will be judged alone from the playoff loss.
The conversation around Prescott and his value to the Cowboys could very well be impacted by his play on Sunday and Dallas’ continued playoff futility.
The star QB is beloved by Jones and the Cowboys owner even said prior to the game against the Packers that “the idea of him not being our quarterback hasn’t crossed my mind.”
However, Prescott has one year left on his contract and reports last month suggested that he and the Cowboys were expected to work out an extension this offseason to make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
Prescott threw more than 400 yards and 41 completions for three touchdowns, but he also had two passes intercepted — including a pick-six.
“I’ll give a lot to today. I’ll give a lot to everything we’ve done,” Jones said speaking generally when asked how much playoff performances weigh on offseason decisions. “I weigh it a lot of ways.”
The Cowboys also have more than a dozen key free agents, including running back Tony Pollard, offensive tackle Tyron Smith, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and center Tyler Biadasz.
The early end of the season also means that interest in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn could spike as well, though his unity didn’t perform well on Sunday.
Quinn’s name has been on a number of teams’ wishlists after helping to coach the defense to top-five finishes in points and yards allowed.
There has been some speculation that Quinn could be eying the head coaching job opening in Seattle, with Ian Rapoport saying last week on “The Pat McAfee Show” that Quinn had been waiting for the Seattle job and that he was a “strong candidate.”