The pressure for Mike McCarthy to deliver big in 2022 is immeasurable, and Jason Garrett can somewhat empathize. Granted, the latter didn't face any fear of being fired early in his roughly 10-year stint at head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but he eventually did in 2019, and another lackluster performance paved the way for the former to succeed him in North Texas. Now, only two seasons later, McCarthy finds himself already being put to the fire -- as owner Jerry Jones attempts to quell rumors of the Cowboys .
What's likely more frustrating for McCarthy, whothat comes with coaching the Cowboys, is that Jones has often been the driver of said rumors -- be it indirectly and/or directly -- "stirring the pot" that much more by wording that also positions newly-extended head coach Dan Quinn as a possible heir to McCarthy in the near future.
In an offseason overrun with drama, both on and off of the field, McCarthy is truly up against it; and Garrett would like to offer some advice on how he should manage it all going forward.
"Well I think the biggest thing for any head coach and really for any player in the NFL, is really just focus on yourself and what you need to do to be your best," he told "The Rich Eisen Show" recently. "And I know that's a cliche, and everyone thinks, 'Oh blah, it's coach speak and all of that', but it's so true. And it's so true certainly in a place like Dallas. There's a lot of people who make their living speculating about things, and digging things up -- stirring things up.
"That's just the world that we live in. The days of Walter Cronkite telling you the news as it is, you know, six o'clock every weekday evening. Those are long gone. It's 24-hour news cycles and we're trying to stir the pot."
Garrett equates it to when he was tasked with keeping both himself and Cowboys players keyed in amid a myriad of potential distractions, on a season-to-season basis.
"When you're in those roles, you have to just really focus on what you need to do to be your best," Garrett added. "And this was a theme that we tried to use with all of our players through the years. Players getting into Twitter wars and all of this kind of stuff. It's like, 'Hey, let's just lock in on what we need to do each day to be our best.'
"And when you're preaching that message to your team, sometimes you've got to preach it to yourself. And you've got to say, hey, everything that I'm trying to share with these guys to help them individually be their best, help our team be its best, you know sometimes you've got to say, hey, I've got to remind myself of those things."
McCarthy is entering the third-year of his five-year contract and despite the Cowboys having finished with an impressive record of 12-5 last season, they were roundly humiliated on Super Wild Card Weekend at AT&T Stadium by the San Francisco 49ers, and the shockwaves that arrived after that failure weren't minimal.
From a roster management standpoint, the Cowboys traded away four-time Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper, released starting right tackle La'el Collins, lost starting right defensive end Randy Gregory in controversial fashion after initially securing him in free agency, lost their bet on Cedrick Wilson after trading away Cooper and, hell, nearly lost All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence before narrowly .
Off of the field, former second-round pick Kelvin Joseph, who has been questioned but not been charged, remains involved in an that puts also places him in the crosshairs of the NFL personal conduct policy and, all told, there's no denying the looming shadow of Payton as the frontrunner to potentially take his job in 2023 (or possibly Quinn), with Jones' unsettling comments this offseason about the coaching position in Dallas undermining his recent attempt to counteract them.
In the end, McCarthy is no greenhorn (evidence being his stretch with the Green Bay Packers). He's well-versed in how the NFL rumor mill works, even if he's literally never seen or been in a situation such as the one he exists in now with the Cowboys and an owner like Jones. But having now moved on from coaching and into the broadcast booth, Garrett understands the minutia of it all.
"Not that you think about it a lot, but you're asked about it a lot," said Garrett. "And so you just kind of lock in and say, 'Hey, this is what I need to do to be my best today.' Mike obviously is a fantastic coach, has been for a long time. He understands the importance of doing that.
"And I think they have a really good team, and they obviously have a really good head coach and a lot of good players and they have a chance to be a good team this year."
Being good may not be good enough, however, because it's all about the Cowboys finally turning the corner and making a deep playoff run in the season to come. Otherwise, Jones' patience and resolve will be tested yet again, and less than a handful of seasons after sending Garrett on his way.