May 26, 2024

The Cowboys have been yearning for a deep playoff run, with Dallas not advancing beyond the divisional round since their Super Bowl victory in the 1995 season. Despite high expectations for the 2023 Cowboys, who seemed poised to make a strong run in a relatively weaker NFC, the reality was far from it. Despite securing the No. 2 seed and clinching the NFC East in Week 18, the Cowboys were thoroughly outplayed by the Packers in a humbling 48-32 defeat during the wild-card round at home.

Bill Belichick (left) and Jim Harbaugh (right)

The hiring of Mike McCarthy, a former Super Bowl-winning coach with the Packers, was anticipated to alter the Cowboys’ fortunes. Under McCarthy’s guidance, Dallas reached the playoffs in three out of his four seasons as head coach, maintaining a 12-5 record each year. However, the team faced early exits in the wild-card round in 2021, the divisional round in 2022, and now another wild-card defeat in 2023.

While some franchises might be satisfied with consistent playoff appearances, the Cowboys do not fall into that category. The expectations for McCarthy went beyond merely reaching the postseason, and he has fallen short of guiding a team with the potential to contend for a Super Bowl.

MORE: Meet the top 7 rising NFL head coaching candidates for 2024

As the offseason descends upon Dallas, it’s reasonable to entertain the notion that Mike McCarthy could find himself officially on the hot seat. Given the abundance of esteemed coaches available, including a future Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl win under his belt seeking to extend his career, team owner Jerry Jones may not delay in contemplating a change. The potential for a coaching shakeup is heightened, and decisions regarding McCarthy’s future may not be deferred for an extended period.

Cowboys coaching candidates for 2024

Bill Belichick

Last Team: Patriots

Position: Head coach

If the Dallas Cowboys were to consider a coaching change, no name would likely be more prominently associated with the potential opening than Bill Belichick. After parting ways with the New England Patriots following a disappointing season, the 71-year-old coach seems ready to continue his career on the sidelines. Teams like the Falcons and Chargers have shown interest in him.

While there are promising young coaches generating excitement elsewhere, Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, may not be inclined to wait and see if a new coach pans out. Recognizing the current team’s capability to win, Jones might be intrigued by the prospect of a coach with Belichick’s illustrious track record taking charge of what could be the most talented team since the Patriots’ Super Bowl win in 2018.

A key consideration in a potential Belichick-Cowboys partnership would be managing personnel decisions. Belichick served as the general manager in New England, a role currently held by Jones in Dallas. The question arises: would they collaborate on decision-making, would Jones delegate the role to Belichick, or would Jones prefer Belichick to focus solely on coaching?

The Cowboys, often referred to as “America’s Team,” could make a distinctly “America’s Team” move by bringing in a coach boasting the most Super Bowl rings and the second-highest combined wins in NFL history, encompassing both regular-season and playoff achievements.

MORE: Latest news on Bill Belichick’s coaching future after Patriots exit

Team: Michigan

Position: Head coach

For years, the prevailing discussion about Jim Harbaugh centered on Michigan being a temporary stop between his tenure as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and a potential return to the NFL. Despite lingering in Ann Arbor longer than anticipated, winning a national championship has fueled speculation that Harbaugh is now poised to make the leap back to the professional ranks.

Most of the recent speculation revolves around Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers, with the enticing prospect of coaching Justin Herbert in the spotlight. However, the allure of guiding a talent-laden team, featuring another star quarterback in Dallas, could introduce yet another contender for Harbaugh’s services.

Harbaugh boasts an impressive track record of success with quarterbacks, notably in the NFL with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. His exceptional stint with the San Francisco 49ers saw a 44-19-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance over four years.

Throughout his tenure, Harbaugh has consistently expressed the Super Bowl as the ultimate prize in the sport, a pinnacle he aspires to reach in his coaching career. Aligning him with a well-stocked roster and an owner with a fervent desire for a championship could be the compelling combination to lure him back to the NFL.

MORE: Latest updates on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan contract talks

Last Team: Titans

Position: Head coach

There were few surprises in this year’s coaching cycle as striking as the Tennessee Titans’ decision to part ways with Mike Vrabel. Under Vrabel’s guidance, the Titans consistently exceeded expectations, with notable achievements such as reaching the conference championship in 2019 and securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC in 2021. The team experienced only two losing seasons during Vrabel’s tenure, both occurring amid periods of quarterback tumult and injuries.

Known for his defensive-minded approach, Vrabel’s teams reflected the toughness and physicality he exhibited during his playing days in the NFL. Notably, the Titans ranked in the bottom half of the league in scoring average for only two seasons during his tenure.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Vrabel’s coaching tenure with the Titans was the sustained success despite not having a standout quarterback. While Ryan Tannehill revived his career in Tennessee, he wasn’t considered among the top-tier quarterbacks that many successful teams typically boast.

Given Vrabel’s coaching prowess and the solid roster he leaves behind, he is expected to be a highly sought-after head coaching candidate this offseason. The potential combination of his coaching expertise with another talented team could prove to be a dynamic and successful match.

Mike Tomlin

Team: Steelers

Position: Head coach

Mike Tomlin has been a model of consistency during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Notably, the team has never posted a losing season under Tomlin’s leadership. With him at the helm, the Steelers have made it to the playoffs 10 times, including two Super Bowl appearances. Despite facing challenges such as an aging Ben Roethlisberger and quarterbacking a team led by Mason Rudolph to playoff appearances in 2021 and 2023, Tomlin has consistently guided the team to success.

In his 17-year coaching career, Tomlin has only twice overseen a defense that ranked outside the top half in scoring average. The Steelers’ consistent performance under his guidance has been a testament to his coaching prowess.

While there’s no certainty that Tomlin will become available on the market, his esteemed reputation in the league and the likelihood of his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame make him a highly regarded coach. If, however, Tomlin and the Steelers decide on a mutual parting of ways, it presents an intriguing possibility for Jerry Jones to pursue another prominent name in an effort to rejuvenate the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys.\

Dan Quinn

Team: Cowboys

Position: Defensive coordinator

Before the playoffs began, Dan Quinn was a highly sought-after coaching candidate. His track record included coaching an outstanding defense in Dallas over the past three years and leading the Atlanta Falcons for six years, which included guiding them to a Super Bowl.

However, after the Dallas Cowboys’ defense allowed 48 points to the Green Bay Packers, questions arose about Quinn’s perceived value. Despite the setback, he may still be a popular name on the coaching market due to his defensive expertise and prior experience as a head coach.

While Quinn may not be the flashiest choice for the Cowboys, he possesses an intimate understanding of the team and could be well-positioned to take over as the head coach from within the organization. The disappointing playoff loss might dampen his prospects, but his overall coaching body of work could still attract interest from Jerry Jones or other teams, even if Sunday’s defeat impacts his chances this coaching cycle.

MORE: Sporting News’ NFL experts make their playoff, Super Bowl 58 picks

Kellen Moore

Team: Chargers

Position: Offensive coordinator

Kellen Moore has been steadily ascending the coaching ranks since transitioning from his playing career to becoming the quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys. His profile received a significant boost in 2019 when he assumed the role of offensive coordinator, a position he held until departing for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2023.

Despite parting ways with the Cowboys after the 2022 season, reports suggest that it was a mutual decision, with Moore seeking a fresh start to continue advancing his career and positioning himself as a future head-coaching candidate. While the Chargers experienced offensive struggles in 2023, factors like injuries, including those to Justin Herbert, played a role.

If the Chargers were inclined to retain Moore as their head coach, he likely would have been named interim head coach when Brandon Staley was fired midseason. However, Giff Smith assumed the interim head coaching role instead.

Given Moore’s coaching trajectory, his name is likely to surface in numerous head-coaching searches. It remains to be seen if the Dallas Cowboys, where Moore served as a former backup quarterback and offensive coordinator, will be the team to offer him his first NFL head-coaching opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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