I know, silly, right? But you stopped and thought about it. Mike McCarthy is the most bizarrely underappreciated head coach ever. As a Packers fan, I witnessed the years of McCarthy being blamed for every single thing by fans who I maintain just wanted someone new for Cellcom commercials. His clock management was as shaky as his acting skills, but his player and coach development was second to none and deserves more accolades than he’s received.
One of the stories tossed around the bonkers 2022 offseason was that Jerry Jones wanted to fire McCarthy so he could give up multiple draft picks to the Saints so they would let Sean Payton out of his contract. Payton was presumably not interested in coming back to coaching yet, so Jerry made a kinda sorta commitment to McCarthy.
As the story progressed, pundits were falling over themselves to talk about how much of an upgrade it would be for Dallas to get Payton over McCarthy. But why? No one took any time to explain it, but talked like it was a foregone conclusion. Some analysts and writers would flippantly about how obviously the Cowboys would jump at the opportunity to get a Super Bowl winning coach.
As opposed to their current Super Bowl winning coach?
McCarthy won the same number of Super Bowls as Payton… one. They got their rings in back-to-back years, in fact. The former Packers coach was often ridiculed for having Aaron Rodgers and only winning one Super Bowl, yet Payton did no better with Drew Brees.
Let’s look at records entering the 2022 season:
- McCarthy: 143-92, for a winning percentage of .609
- Payton: 152-89, for a winning percentage of .631
Hardly seems like enough to say Payton should be handed McCarthy’s job. McCarthy supposedly choked too often in the playoffs, so it would make sense to see a more glaring disparity in their playoff records. But it’s not there.
- McCarthy: 10-9
- Payton: 9-8
It’s like they’re the same coach. Almost a little unsettling how closely their careers match up.
So why are they treated so differently? Why is McCarthy seen as some struggling stopgap until Payton gives Jerry the nod or Jerry decides Dan Quinn is ready, and Payton is a master guru and all teams must be willing to give up multiple 1st round picks just to kiss his single ring? I’m seriously asking.
And the bigger question: If the Cowboys win the Super Bowl and Payton tells Jerry he wants the job, would McCarthy be safe, or would we see most unprecedented coach firing in NFL history?