The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals were playoff disappointments. Dallas lost a nailbiting home game to the San Francisco 49ers after the quarterback sneak heard around the world. The Arizona Cardinals were blown out by the Los Angeles Rams, continuing their end of season slide. Making the NFL Playoffs usually means a coach’s is safe, but in the case of Mike McCarthy and Kliff Kingsbury, not only they were bad in the playoffs, their jobs should be questioned as well. The Cowboys’ and Cardinals’ postseason performances didn’t match the talent on the roster. Both McCarthy and Kingsbury’s roles should be dissected after each team’s early postseason exit.
Mike McCarthy—Dallas Cowboys
America’s Team, right? Green Bay Packers fans tried to warn you about McCarthy. He was carried by talent and Aaron Rodgers, but good ol’ Jerry Jones knows what’s best. Look at what that got him. 14 penalties in a playoff game after the Cowboys were the most penalized team in the league and gave up the second most penalty yards during the regular season. Penalties crushed Dallas in their loss to San Francisco. Especially down the stretch, where two defensive drives gave away first downs and allowed the 49ers to milk the clock.
McCarthy is a hack. The worst part about it is I truly believe both his coordinators in Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn would be better suited for the Cowboys’ head coaching job. The laughable part is both could pick up head coaching jobs elsewhere in the next few weeks, with Quinn a likelier head coach than Moore in 2022. Quinn and Micah Parsons turned Dallas’ defense from their weakest point to the strongest part of the team; despite that strength and all that talent on offense, Dallas still couldn’t beat the top teams. In Week 1, they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; in Week 11, they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs; and in Week 17, turnovers did them in against Arizona.
When the best play the best, everything matters and sometimes it comes down to coaching. McCarthy never has timeouts when he needs them. His team is ill-prepared. They lose close games even though their talent is superior. The Cowboys and Jerry Jones need to make changes because winning the NFC East isn’t the goal. With McCarthy as their head coach, it’s impossible to imagine them getting past the first round of the postseason next year either.
The Verdict: Fire McCarthy.
Kliff Kingsbury—Arizona Cardinals
When Kliff Kingsbury was hired, he was compared to NFC West rivals Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. Everyone thought after drafting Kyler Murray that Kingsbury would bring the spread to the NFL and change professional football. However, in back-to-back years, the Cardinals fell apart at the end of the season. This year, they were unable to stop the skid by beating the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round.
DeAndre Hopkins went down, and Arizona’s offense fell apart. Their wide receivers were no longer given easier one-on-one matchups with the defense’s entire game plan focused on slowing Hopkins. J.J. Watt missed the majority of the season after injuring his shoulder. But the Cardinals still had talent. They traded for Zach Ertz, Chandler Jones was still rushing off the edge, Zach Allen filled in nicely, and they had multiple early round draft picks invested in their defense.
Every team faced injuries. Unfortunately, sometimes you lose your star players. Caches have to rally their team and change the plan to adjust for these absences. Not only did Kingsbury fail in that regard, but his team fell flat on its face. In their postseason loss to the Rams, Murray was scattered and afraid; he consistently missed easy and quick reads early in the game. The Cardinals’ defense couldn’t stop the run. Even with their offensive line healthy, they couldn’t pass protect or run the ball.
Good looks can only take you so far. We’re very close to the point where excuses for Kingsbury’s poor performances ring hollow. If the Cardinals don’t advance in the playoffs next year, Kingsbury should be shown the door.