Jimmy Johnson compares Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy to Sean Payton

The Cowboys maybe have missed their last chance to hire Sean Payton but former head coach Jimmy Johnson says Dallas already has a coach of similar caliber.

Johnson discussed the Cowboys’ current coaching situation with Pro Football talk and why he isn’t surprised that Dallas hasn’t made a change at head coach.

“When you look at the numbers, Mike McCarthy and Sean (Payton)’s numbers are very similar,” former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said. “I think both are outstanding football coaches, and so it could be a good fit with Mike calling the plays and taking over the offense. But when you just compare the two, it’s hard to pick, because they’re both outstanding.”

Since losing in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers, extending the franchise’s Super Bowl drought to 27 years, the Cowboys and McCarthy have made major changes to the coaching staff.

The team announced in January that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and the club mutually agreed to part ways. Prior to that, seven other assistant coaches did not have their expiring contracts renewed.

Dallas hired Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator to replace Moore on Saturday.

“Everybody’s going to gauge a team on what you do in the playoffs,” Johnson said. “That’s what’s been frustrating [for the Cowboys]. The thing about it is a lot of times during the regular season you can beat up on teams because you’re more talented than they are. Talent alone will win those games, but once you get in the playoffs, you’re playing teams just as talented as you are.”

The threat of Payton kept the Cowboys in the conversation on slow news days. The club’s seemingly eternal interest gave Payton leverage with the Saints when it came to contract extensions and elevated his profile around the NFL as a coach in demand.

McCarthy told reporters in his season-ending news conference that Jones mentioned he hopes the current coach will be around as long as Tom Landry. Look for that to happen.

Until it doesn’t.

McCarthy will inevitably move on, for whatever reason, before his tenure equals Landry. But whenever he does, it won’t be because of Payton. McCarthy doesn’t have to worry about that.

“There’s a very small margin of error — turnovers, sacks, negative plays, how good of defense you’re playing, explosive plays — and sometimes you’ve got to go against the percentages in the playoffs. If you just play it by the book in the playoffs and that team is as talented as you are, they’re going to beat you. The playoffs are a completely different world than playing in the regular season.”

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