Here’s how the Cowboys have built team chemistry under Mike McCarthy.

OXNARD, Calif. – Mike McCarthy finally got to know Doc Prescott over iced tea two years ago.

He became the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in January 2020 and two months later the world stopped. He didn’t actually get his team on the field for training until July. After four and a half games with one of the league’s most high-octane offenses, Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury and all hopes for the year ended.

McCarthy had late-career Brett Favre and early-career Aaron Rodgers. Now he was getting a prime career Prescott had during a pandemic that had no reasonable way of knowing. So when he saw the franchise quarterback slumped on crutches at the loading dock of the team’s facilities waiting for a ride from a rehabilitation appointment, he asked Prescott to come inside. They drove to Prescott’s house, where they had iced tea on the back porch in their first, real knowing moment away from the football field.

In the third year of the McCarthy regime in Dallas, everyone now knows each other. In a sit-down interview with CBS Sports, McCarthy said the team “really hit our stride last year” when the Cowboys had the league’s top-scoring offense and top-seven scoring defense. was But these Cowboys aren’t playing for NFC East division title banners, and they don’t escape the shadow of a last-second wild-card loss to the 49ers.

McCarthy is under pressure. Every NFL job has pressure, but being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys is a different kind of pressure.

“I want to be really clear: He wouldn’t be sitting here today if I didn’t think he was the guy to take this team to the Super Bowl,” Jones said at the start of his annual State of the Union presser. Camp “He won’t, and I have choices.”

Jones sometimes likes to publicly squeeze the head coach. McCarthy, meanwhile, just wants the questions to go away and coach the ball club. But being in that position means that on this franchise, the sword of Damocles is constantly over your head.

“Pressure is a blessing,” says McCarthy, borrowing from Billie Jean King’s “pressure is a privilege” quote.

“It’s a blessing that I’ve had the opportunities that I’ve been blessed with,” he continues. “So I take it very seriously, but I’m also at a point in my life where every day is very special. And that’s why I really enjoy the camp because it’s a football place that I can be you and it’s not. Just being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but also on a different level with the players we have.”

Building chemistry

Prescott invited his offensive teammates to Miami this offseason to grind. From Ezekiel Elliott to CeeDee Lamb to Jalen Tolbert and others, the group worked all over South Florida and then tied up on a boat.

The timing was critical for Lamb, who was arguably Prescott’s top target. The third-year receiver is coming off a 1,102-receiving-yard season and is finally getting a full offseason and preseason with his quarterback. First, the aforementioned covid year as Lamb was adjusting to the league as a rookie. The second, one where Prescott suffered a back/shoulder muscle strain early in camp that hindered their chemistry.

“Oh, I must say it (the chemistry) is a lot better than the first two years,” Lamb told CBS Sports. “I think this offseason we made it a priority to get the chemistry between the two of us down. I think it was more important, so just … traveling together, working together, literally. Literally anything. Like just walking together to QB1, wide receiver 1, if you will, and we’re just grinding. So right now I feel like training camp is definitely a step up from the first two years. “

Prescott has worked on his throwing mechanics this offseason by generating more torque through his lower body. The result is more zip on the balls, and this is why Lamb has increased the speed on the JUGS machine. He wants to practice with balls that are even hotter than what Prescott provides.

It’s the relationship between Prescott and Lamb that will be crucial to this team’s offensive success. Amari Cooper is in Cleveland, Cedric Wilson Jr. is in Miami, and Michael Gallup will not be ready to start the season. But Lamb says he feels no pressure.

“No. Not one. Honestly, just because that’s what I’ve been doing literally my whole life and I fell in love with the sport a long time ago,” Lamb says. “Going out there, doing what I love. And yeah, those teams are going to be on me, but I mean, I’m going to put some pressure on myself. So just going out there, doing what I have to do. And I’ll take care of the rest myself.”

The rest can take care of itself, but McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will have to find ways to not let it all depend on luck.

“We know very well that based on the changes we’ve made in personnel,” says McCarthy, “especially the beginning of the year and the bright spotlight on CeeDee — and I’m talking to the opposition.” Defense So we’re aware of that and it’s something we have to be very careful about and it’s all part of the plan. But it gives other guys opportunities and that’s all part of being a great offense and that’s how we’ll go. about it.

“But CD has prepared himself for the opportunity so he’s ready and the flexibility we have in our system and his ability to play multiple positions at receiver is a big part of his success.”

Turning a negative into a positive

When the Cowboys arrived in Oxnard, mental conditioning consultant Chad Boehling had some film for the boys to watch from the playoff loss to the Niners. It wasn’t game tape though. Boehling showed Tim Prescott and Elliott’s press conferences after the 23-17 loss.

The players were reminded of last season’s heartbreak and encouraged to take that negative moment and use it positively to move forward. McCarthy has no interest in burying the past.

You remember how Dallas’ season ended. Down by six, 14 seconds to play, Prescott went right past midfield and took off for 17 yards before sliding. There is no timeout left and the Cowboys rush to rush the ball but the game is over.

“There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not emphasizing the last play of the game, the last three plays of the game, situational football,” McCarthy told me. “We all do it. It’s part of training for a football team. We understand it, but we all have the same amount of time and we spend a little more time in that area than we normally do. . And I think it certainly will. Pay.”

In Saturday’s practice, McCarthy led the team through red zone and end-of-game scenarios. Ball at the 25 yard line, 49 seconds on the clock, a timeout. Prescott needed just over halftime to hit James Washington, who reached the soft spot between cornerback Trayvon Diggs and safety Donovan Wilson for the touchdown.

Skip the timeout, take the cannula.

The Cowboys have continuity in personnel. They have health. They have a list. They definitely have a quarterback. And they have clear expectations from an owner who “needs” another Lombardi win.

“Well, I think the biggest thing, No. 1, is that nobody has high expectations for what we want to do this year,” McCarthy says. “So with that, we understand what it’s like to work for the Dallas Cowboys and it’s all part of our job responsibility.”

The blessing of stress.


  • The Cowboys aren’t unveiling their true plans for Micah Parsons just yet, and certainly not before the pads arrive. He worked with the linebackers on Saturday from what I saw, but the Defensive Rookie of the Year could line up there or on the edge at a moment’s notice. “I think the biggest thing with Micah is making sure you’re creating opportunities for him to be active. Whether it’s off the ball or on the ball and I think Dan [Quinn] And the defensive staff has done an excellent job creating targeting challenges for the offense in his first year. I think as you look at this year, it’s probably going to be a little bit more what we do, but how much we do about everybody. And I think the reality is that not only will he improve, but he’ll improve other people around him because of the attention he gets.”
  • We’re still a few weeks away from NFL teams competing in joint practices, and I think the rise of those practices makes a lot of sense. This provides a more controlled environment for coaches who trust each other. The Cowboys will hold joint practices with the Broncos on August. 11 before their appearance, and then they’ll get two with the Chargers in August. The 17-18 preseason schedule shook out that way, and it was fortunate that they got some teams from the West for those two weeks. But McCarthy told me something else. “You just look at all the mechanics involved, to be honest with you, both teams are on grass, that’s important to me. We’re training on grass. So you just look at all the features, it’s There are intangibles involved in making a decision. And I’m very confident, you know, working with Nathaniel [Hackett] And Brandon [Staley] And we both want the same things.”
  • Maybe a change of scenery was just what Will Grier needed. The former third-round pick with the Panthers is behind Cooper Rush on the Dallas depth chart, but he could challenge for the backup spot with a strong preseason where he’ll get plenty of snaps in exhibitions. In team red zone drills, he showed great touch on a corner end zone touchdown pass to Sami Fehoku.