He couldn’t anticipate the pandemic that plundered much of his offseason.
He couldn’t control the season-ending injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, among others.
Mike McCarthy encountered a number of what he calls “unique challenges” in his first season as Cowboys coach. Certainly, not all were his fault.
Perhaps the fairest criticism that can be levied against McCarthy in 2020 is, after a full season out of the NFL, he failed to assemble an adequate defensive coaching staff. Too often, the group demonstrated a startling lack of cohesion.
McCarthy hopes to be addressing that now.
The Cowboys have hired Joe Whitt Jr. as their secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator, a source said Wednesday morning. Whitt, who received a two-year contract, replaces Maurice Linguist as the person overseeing the secondary.
Cohesion won’t be a concern.
McCarthy knows exactly the coach and person he is getting in Whitt, who served on his Green Bay Packers staff from 2008-18. Whitt spent 2020 on the Atlanta Falcons with the same coaching title as he carries in Dallas. Dan Quinn, the Falcons coach who hired Whitt last January, became the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator on Monday. So a preexisting working relationship exists not only between Whitt and McCarthy but Whitt and Quinn.
Whitt, 42, interviewed last weekend for the Cowboys’ coordinator job.
When choosing Quinn, McCarthy hoped to secure Whitt for this role. The Falcons could have blocked Whitt from joining Dallas since he was under contract in 2021. They stepped aside, clearing his reunion with McCarthy and Quinn.
Linguist hadn’t previously coached in the NFL when hired last year.
Whitt brings 14 seasons of NFL experience into his Cowboys tenure.
Whitt’s addition is the first of several important decisions ahead in the Dallas secondary. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, safety Xavier Woods and nickel cornerback Jourdan Lewis are among the club’s 17 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 17. On April 28, a quality cornerback prospect like Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II could entice the Cowboys with their assigned No. 10 overall pick.
McCarthy regrets the 2020 assembly of a defensive coaching staff whose cohesion, and arguably even competency at times, lacked.
A new year provides McCarthy a second chance.