This week the Cowboys held their mandatory minicamp, which would be their last live action on the field before training camp in July. After rookie wide receiver Jalen Tolbert was impressive on the first day, the Cowboys adjusted their plans.

It was announced on Wednesday that the Cowboys would cancel the final two days of minicamp practice to focus on team-building. With about six weeks until the Cowboys come together again, head coach Mike McCarthy gave a message about moving forward to his players after acknowledging that they have checked all the boxes so far.

“Travel safe. Be smart. Be safe,” McCarthy said. “I think, like anything, it’s part of our plan to get ready. What we’ve accomplished in the offseason, we need to move forward. We can’t go backward. I think they clearly understand that.”

McCarthy’s message is your typical message before an elongated team break, but there’s an extra layer added to his words: The fact that the Cowboys were later fined for having practices deemed too physical by the NFL. It’s the second straight year the Cowboys were “caught” doing this. They were fined $100k and were docked a 2023 OTA practice, as a result.

McCarthy may want to take his own advice when it comes to the “be smart” portion of his message.

McCarthy is entering his most important season in Dallas. In 2020, the Cowboys, as well as the rest of the NFL, were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It eliminated most of the league’s offseason programs and handicapped McCarthy in his first season with the Cowboys. On top of that, the Cowboys were ravished with injuries and finished a disappointing 6-10.

The 2021 season was a step in the right direction for the Cowboys under McCarthy. They went 12-5 and won the NFC East, but there were a few problems. Dallas didn’t fare well against the better teams on their schedule as games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Arizona Cardinals ended in losses. Also, they looked unprepared in their playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

McCarthy didn’t do himself any favors when he said the Cowboys looked nervous before their postseason defeat. As the head coach, that’s on McCarthy to have his team ready to play when it matters the most. McCarthy failed to do so in 2021, and it’s caused some doubt if he’s the man to bring a Super Bowl to the Cowboys despite winning one with the Green Bay Packers in 2010.

Just getting to the playoffs is not enough for the Cowboys. It’s been over 25 years since they won multiple playoff games in the same season, and as a franchise with five Super Bowl titles, that’s unacceptable. The Cowboys are returning a defense that still has its most important parts and has added some more reinforcements. Coupled with an offense that should be productive, McCarthy has to find a way to make a deep playoff run with the Cowboys in 2022.

Feature image via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports