Mike McCarthy Gets Crushed Because Cowboys Covered In Penalty Flags

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The best overreaction is NFL preseason overreaction and if the Dallas Cowboys and coach Mike McCarthy didn’t know that before they played the Denver Broncos last weekend, they surely must get it now – because people are freaking out.

The reason is: the Cowboys collected 17 penalties in that preseason opener at Denver.

And they had another four penalties that were declined.

That’s the most penalties by an NFL team in a preseason game in three years.

All this from a team that led the NFL in penalties last season and had 14 penalties in their playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Can you see where the freak-out is coming from?

So Monday it was impossible to turn on a show featuring any sort of football opinion or punditry without getting a hot take on the Cowboys’ penalties.

Allow me to share the craziest of those first, from my friend Michael Irvin.

(True story: I was among the 50 or so people at Irvin’s Broward County, FL. home in 1988 when he was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round. Irvin was sweating the process because he thought the Green Bay Packers were going to pick him and the Sunshine State kid wanted nothing to do with the Frozen Tundra. So he was gleeful when the Packers selected Sterling Sharpe at No. 7 and he dropped to the Cowboys at No. 11 overall).

Anyway, Irvin was on ESPN’s “First Take” shouting at Stephen A. Smith Monday morning. Amid the gas bagging, the Hall of Fame receiver said this:

“If the Dallas Cowboys clean up these penalties, they will be chasing the 1972 Miami Dolphins. When you got the No. 1 offense, clean up these penalties, they will be chasing the 1972 Dolphins.”

The 1972 Miami Dolphins were undefeated. They were and remain the only NFL team to go through the regular season and postseason and win a Super Bowl with an undefeated record.

So 1972 was the Perfect Season for the Dolphins.

Irvin, from South Florida, knows this.

“Did I say something crazy?” Irvin asked.

No, just dumb. Because Dallas has as much chance of cleaning up its league-leading penalties as New York has of cleaning up its cost of living problem.

How do we know this? History.

Now we’re talking McCarthy’s history. He has been an NFL head coach for 15 years, the last two with the Cowboys and Green Bay before that.

In those 15 years, McCarthy’s teams have collected over 100 penalties in a season nine times. His teams have collected 90 penalties or more four times.

And, yes, last year the Cowboys had 141 penalties, per NFLpenalties.com to set a new record high for the franchise and teams McCarthy has coach. So let’s not pretend the preseason performance was uncharacteristic.

“The penalties are clearly way too much,” McCarthy said after his team collected more penalties than points against the Broncos. “We’ll look at those and keep going through it as far as combative versus disciplined. That’s clearly the biggest negative.”

McCarthy made the point this was the first preseason game and the Cowboys didn’t play a large majority of their starters. He added this preseason game had no connection to what happened in 2021.

“Last year is last year,” the coach said.

Of course he’s going to make that point and it is fair.

But not everyone sees it that way.

Mike Tannenbaum, who helped run the New York and Miami Dolphins before he joined ESPN, isn’t alone. Other pundits got all over the Cowboys about their penalties, preseason notwithstanding, because of last year.

“I get it that it was a preseason game, but you were sloppy,” Shannon Sharpe said on FOX Sports 1’s Undisputed.

Sharpe went on a rant (very rare) about McCarthy having no power and being “a substitute teacher” that players don’t fear.

“Kids misbehave knowing that the substitute teacher can’t do anything,” Sharpe said calmly. “They [the players] know Mike McCarthy can’t do anything.”

The fact is McCarthy has said he will do something. He said the Cowboys would indeed clean up their penalties this year, something that seems harder to believe after the first preseason game and this …

…The Cowboys drafted offensive lineman Tyler Smith in the first round of the April draft. He might have a part to play in McCarthy’s pledge to cut down on penalties so the the Cowboys can go undefeated, as Irvin projects.

Because Smith collected 16 penalties last year at the University of Tulsa, making him the most penalized Division I player in all of college football.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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  1. The watch is on! The line for McCarthy should be +/-6 games before he becomes the former coach. The most important thing for Jerrah is making some $$$ so he sees his team as successful. This is built to be an 8 or 9 win team as are most of the teams Jerrah puts out there.

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