Almost exactly two years after the Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy, they won their 12th game of the 2021 regular season en route to the playoffs. For the first time since 1998, the Cowboys swept the NFC East. They did so by outscoring their rivals 240-10, which comes out to an average margin of victory of 22 points per game.

None of that matters now.

“We view this as the starting line,” said Mike McCarthy talking about the team’s goals as they wait to know who their rival is next weekend. “We’ve had goals all along.”

This is McCarthy’s second year with the Cowboys, but his first full season with Dak Prescott at quarterback. Backup QB play makes it difficult to judge his performance in 2020, but in his second year with the team, the Cowboys went 12-5, boast the second-best point differential in the NFL, and will host a playoff game in the Wild Card round.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but they’re getting where they want to be. Now, they get to put the McCarthy hiring to the test. Sure, the Cowboys hired McCarthy to win the Super Bowl. But even in the playoffs, the probabilities to actually go win it all are very small.

The way I see it, the Dallas Cowboys moved on from Jason Garrett for two main reasons. 1) Lack of playoff success and 2) lack of back-to-back playoff trips.

Whether McCarthy helps the Cowboys make the playoffs in consecutive years remains to be seen, but at least now he gets a chance at doing what he’s done before. Winning in the playoffs.

Only 18 coaches have won 10 or more playoff games in NFL history, one of which is Mike McCarthy. He’s 10-8 (55.6% winning percentage) in the playoffs. With the Green Bay Packers, he went to the postseason nine years and won at least once six times.

The pieces are in place for the Dallas Cowboys. Even after losing Michael Gallup in Week 17, they’re one of the healthiest teams in the league. They have one of the best defenses in the NFL and an offense that can be as dangerous as any other if they get hot.

During the Garrett era, conservative coaching put them in tough spots in the regular season and in the playoffs. When we previewed Cowboys playoff games, Garrett seemed to always come up as a disadvantage when comparing coaching staffs between the teams involved.

Their ceiling is as high as any other team’s in the NFC. Dak Prescott has been in the playoffs before. Never with a coaching staff this experienced. It all gets put to the test next weekend.

Featured image via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports