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Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy could be fired if team suffers an early playoff exit

Matt Johnson
Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy entered the 2021 NFL season on the hot seat. Even after winning the NFC East and hosting a playoff game at AT&T Stadium, McCarthy’s job might not be safe.

Dallas takes the field on Sunday as the betting favorite and is viewed as a Super Bowl contender. Owner Jerry Jones has also set huge expectations for his team, tired of waiting for the Cowboys to field a championship threat with the franchise’s last Super Bowl appearance coming in 1995.

With so much riding on this team in the playoffs, it’s possible McCarthy could be coaching for his job in the Wild Card round on Sunday.

  • Dallas Cowboys record (2021): 12-5

According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Jones may consider a coaching change if Dallas falls short of expectations in the postseason. Multiple sources who are very familiar with the iconic NFL owner believe he will seriously consider firing McCarthy if Dallas loses to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cowboys enjoyed a tremendous turnaround this season, with McCarthy overseeing a six-game improvement. But much of the credit for the 12-win season is being given to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Quinn took over as the Cowboys’ defensive play-caller this offseason and his coaching instantly helped things click for this unit. He’s now the favorite to replace Vic Fangio as the Denver Broncos head coach. While Jones would love to keep him, Quinn likely would be the favorite to replace McCarthy as the Dallas Cowboys head coach.

Instead, Jones would likely promote Moore. The Cowboys convinced Moore to turn down the Boise State coaching job a year ago, giving him a raise to keep him in Dallas. He has a close relationship with Dak Prescott and the NFL’s best offense statistically in 2021 would want to maintain continuity.

While there was already a huge spotlight on the Cowboys-49ers matchup, the uncertainty surrounding McCarthy’s future adds a new element to the playoff battle.