It's not every day that you see a coach of a first-place team get criticized by his own players, but that's exactly what happened this week in Dallas after the Cowboys got blown out 38-10 by the Cardinals on Monday night. Less than 24 hours after the game, NFL media's Jane Slater talked to at least two players, who both took some time to anonymously voice their frustrations with coach Mike McCarthy. One of the most notable complaints came from one player who claimed that the team has been "totally unprepared" for games.
McCarthy was actually asked about the criticisms this week and he clearly wasn't thrilled with the fact that a few of his players decided to anonymously complain through the media.
"The anonymous is something we don't want to recognize," McCarthy said, via USA Today. "But it's important to recognize anything and everything for a teachable moment."
If we learned one thing from McCarthy's interview, it's that the players who complained definitely haven't voiced their frustrations to him yet. The Cowboys coach said he hasn't sensed anything awry in the locker room through six weeks.
"Well, I mean, first off, I haven't heard any of those type of discussions," McCarthy said, via PFT. "I think like a lot of things when you hit a part of your season, or any challenge where there is negativity out there and where it comes from and who it comes from, that's something that I've never chased. I think you do have to recognize it. I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I've always stated that . . . it's important to handle things as men."
The next time a player has a complaint, McCarthy would prefer that they come to him first.
"I mean, if you do have something to say publicly that is of most important, I think it's important to say it to the individual, or particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys," McCarthy said. "I mean, that's all part of the development our program, of the system that we've got going here. I think that's just part of our flight right now. We don't like the way we played. We had some areas that we struggled strong in. It's definitely not what we're looking for."
There might not be a mutiny in the locker room just yet, but there could be if the Cowboys continue to lose. At 2-4, the Cowboys are lucky that they're not 0-6, which could have easily happened if the ball had bounced the other way a few times in their wins over the Falcons and Giants.
Of course, if McCarthy doesn't sound like he's panicking, it's probably because he knows that 2-4 isn't the end of the world, especially when you play in a division like the NFC East. Although the Cowboys have had lost multiple key players to injury, including Dak Prescott, the fact of the matter is that they're still in the driver's seat in the NFC East. Not only are they in first place, but they have two divisional games over the next two weeks (at Washington, at Philadelphia).
If McCarthy can get the ship turned around over the final 11 weeks of the season, then no one will remember this rough patch. However, if the Cowboys continue to lose, it won't be surprising if a few more players start to anonymously complain about their coach, and if that happens, owner Jerry Jones might eventually have a big decision to make about the coach he just hired in January.