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Cowboys' Jerry Jones clarifies comments on Mike McCarthy's future: 'I couldn't be more pleased'

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seemingly is as fickle as ever.

Following Sunday's victory over the Commanders to close the season with 12 wins, the No. 2 seed and an NFC East title, Jones raised some eyebrows when he wouldn't fully commit to bringing head coach Mike McCarthy back for a fifth season.

"We'll see how each game goes in the playoffs," he said when asked about McCarthy's future, per Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram.

Given a chance to follow up on his apparent wait-and-see approach Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan’s _Shan & RJ, Jones was far more emphatic about his faith in the Super Bowl-winning coach moving forward.

"I was a little surprised," Jones said regarding the reaction to his previous comments. "I don't know how I could be any clearer. Coach McCarthy is under contract for next year. So, that's not an issue. Secondly, I couldn't be more pleased with what he's done, and how he's coached. … I certainly haven't sat down here right in the middle of the playoffs and started talking to him about a contract. Why would you do that?

"And by the way, he's the busiest cat in all of Texas. … So, the last thing that I want to do is spend any time talking with him about these kinds of things, on agreements, extension of agreements, especially when I've got one. So, that's it."

Jones has said in the past that he's pleased with the job McCarthy is doing. By regular-season metrics he certainly should be.

McCarthy has put together a 42-25 record as Dallas' head coach, rebounding from a 6-10 record in his first year in charge to rattle off three straight 12-win seasons -- two of which included division titles.

Four years into the decade, the Cowboys' number of campaigns with double-digit wins matches the entirety of their output in the 2010s (three) and also through the 2000s (three).

Including this season, Dallas has finished first in scoring twice under McCarthy, something the franchise hadn't previously accomplished since 1980.

The problem is the decade of comparison that Jones is measuring things against is the wildly successful 1990s.

His Cowboys won three Super Bowls that decade, with their most recent title coming in the 1995 season. Not only have they not been back to the Big Game since, but they've been unable to advance beyond the Divisional Round.

McCarthy's many successes have not translated to breaking out of that rut.

In 2021, the NFC East-champion Cowboys fell to the 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend.

In 2022, Dallas vanquished the Buccaneers and Tom Brady in the final game of his Hall of Fame career before again falling to San Francisco, but in the Divisional Round.

This time around, Dallas enters the playoffs as the NFC's second seed, 8-0 at home and guaranteed at least one more game at AT&T Stadium, where it has a +172 point differential. Dak Prescott led the NFL with 36 passing touchdowns and has been an MVP candidate for much of the year, CeeDee Lamb paced the league with 135 receptions and Micah Parsons captained the defense to a top-five campaign in points and yards allowed.

The road to success is already well-paved. That's been the case for many ill-fated Cowboys teams before, which is perhaps why Jones initially seemed more inclined to take things on a game-to-game basis in the contests that count the most before clarifying how pleased he is with McCarthy's work two days later.

McCarthy can make the narrative moot by going on a run, starting with dispatching the No. 7 seed Packers, who have won four in a row against the Cowboys and nine of their last 10 dating back to 2009 -- although all but two of those came with McCarthy roaming the opposite sideline in green and gold.

If McCarthy falters against his former team, Jones is certain to hear more questions about the 60-year-old head coach's future.

That's likely true even if the Cowboys advance but stumble the following week.

The goal, and perhaps the bar, should be reaching an NFC Championship Game and beyond. If the postseason transpires as seeded, Dallas would be on a collision course with the first-seeded 49ers, who have vanquished the Cowboys in two straight playoffs and already embarrassed them, 42-10, in Week 5 this season.

Of course, such a meeting is still a few weeks and several results away.

Jones, McCarthy and the Cowboys will have to see how each game goes before then.

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