Cowboys-Packers matchup a fitting way for Mike McCarthy to make his mark


Mike McCarthy would probably prefer to spend this week offering as little bulletin board material as possible. Winning football games is hard enough without the emotional angle of a long-awaited homecoming. However, buried in a 22-minute press conference Monday afternoon, the third-year Cowboys head coach reflected deeply on this trip back to Wisconsin and an early meeting with the Green Bay Packers.

“Sometimes life gives you a chance to come full circle, to go back and show how much you’ve grown,” he said.

McCarthy, of course, was referring to himself and several members of his coaching staff, who left a championship legacy in Green Bay. But more than just the obvious human connection, this can apply to the entire Dallas Cowboys team as they travel to the home of one of the NFC’s most consistent franchises over the past decade in hopes of finding that consistency themselves (Sunday at 4:25). pm ET on FOX).

The connection is more obvious for McCarthy, who amassed 135 wins, six NFC North titles and the Super Bowl XLV championship as the Packers’ head coach. With those accolades in mind, not to mention the growth of his own family and eventual layoff from his job, it’s understandably an emotional week, even if he’ll downplay it. “I’ve been working there for four years and I’m really looking forward to getting our team up there,” McCarthy said. “As I told you today at the team meeting, this is a great place to compete.”

Why Mike McCarthy vs. Packers is perfect timing for his career

Why Mike McCarthy vs. Packers is perfect timing for his career

Mike McCarthy will face his former team and QB Aaron Rodgers in Week 10. Colin Cowherd explains why he’s backing McCarthy against the Green Bay Packers.

This is where the other part comes in. Forget the Packers’ 3-6 record or their five-game losing streak. In recent history, the Cowboys have rarely had an answer for Green Bay or their Hall of Fame quarterback, going just 2-8 against the Packers since Aaron Rodgers became their starter.

There is no need to explain them in full right now, but the list is long. On the day he was hired in Dallas, McCarthy was asked, five years after the fact, whether or not Dez Caught It, offering a perfect insight into how ingrained the Packers are in the psyche of this fan base. “It was a great catch, I can tell now. But it wasn’t then, technically,” McCarthy said at the time.

That helps explain why there’s a sense of unease about those who follow the Cowboys this week. Regardless of Rodgers’ shockingly low quarterback rating or his seven interceptions midseason, many still see him as the boogeyman that took away the Cowboys’ two best seasons of the last decade. It’s the same one that once needed just 1:02 to turn a thrilling Dallas victory into a last-second loss. “You’re talking about a man who is one of the leading professional athletes of his generation,” McCarthy said succinctly.

That’s not to say the Cowboys themselves should hold Rodgers in such reverence. Only six members of that team were here in 2016, when Rodgers had his dreams dashed in the divisional round. Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence are the only holdovers from 2014, when Dez Caught It.

Still, there is meaning here, both the symbolic kind and the very literal kind. A win would slay a demon the Cowboys haven’t been able to overcome often. It would also help them keep pace with the NFC’s best, while sending their longtime tormentors into a 3-7 hole that would be tough to recover from.

There is certainly symbolism for McCarthy, as his former quarterback acknowledged with similar language.

“I think that’s kind of closing the loop,” Rodgers told The Athletic this week. “The opportunity to have him back at Lambeau coaching for another team, hopefully honoring it in the right way, will be pretty special.”

These memories are well earned and will not fade. But McCarthy is interested in making similar memories in Dallas. Removing this team, of all teams, would be a nice addition to the collection.

“You have to prepare to go and win, and that’s where my mind game is,” he said.

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David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in the production of “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter @davidhelman_.


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