Mike McCarthy on unnamed players’ criticism: It’s important to handle things as men

With a new head coach, the Cowboys entered this season with high expectations. Nothing has gone as planned.

The Cowboys are without their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, and several other key players, including both starting tackles. Their defense is giving up points at a historic pace, and their minus-12 turnover ratio is the worst in the NFL.

The Cowboys are doing what losing teams do: Players are anonymously venting about the coaching staff. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy responded Tuesday night.

“Well, I mean, first off, I haven’t heard any of those type of discussions,” McCarthy said on a conference call with reporters. “I think like a lot of things when you hit a part of your season, or any challenge where there is negativity out there and where it comes from and who it comes from, that’s something that I’ve never chased. I think you do have to recognize it. I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I’ve always stated that . . . it’s important to handle things as men. I mean, if you do have something to say publicly that is of most important, I think it’s important to say it to the individual, or particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. I mean, that’s all part of the development our program, of the system that we’ve got going here. I think that’s just part of our flight right now. We don’t like the way we played last night. We had some areas that we struggled strong in. It’s definitely not what we’re looking for.”

Jane Slater of NFL Media tweeted earlier in the day: “Cowboys players initially bought into keeping things internal. Now as they sit 2-4 the discontent is leaking out. On the coaching staff ‘totally unprepared. They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.’ Another ‘they just aren’t good at their jobs.’”

Slater asked McCarthy if the quotes from unnamed players were an opportunity to reiterate his open-door policy to his team.

“Thank you for the opportunity,” McCarthy said, “but I think the key word there is anonymous. I think I’ve already stated: I think it’s important for our operation of the system that we’re putting in place here. All systems are different. We’ve looked at how things were done here in the past. It’s a clear vision and understanding and demands of how things need to be moving forward. But it’s important for us to have those conversations one-on-one or as a group, and I’m fortunate that I get to talk to the team every day.”