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With practice limited, Cowboys' McCarthy must be deliberate with changes

Even though the Dallas Cowboys brought back offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, new head coach Mike McCarthy will be installing his own wrinkles to the offense
Credit: AP
New Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is introduced during a press conference at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

DALLAS —

As if Elizabeth Hurley's devilish character from 2000's "Bedazzled" were granting the wishes of Dallas Cowboys fans, they finally get an experienced winner at head coach in Mike McCarthy.

The catch: COVID-19 obliterates the NFL offseason; McCarthy and the new staff aren't able to take advantage of the extra two weeks of offseason workouts. When the Cowboys players and coaches are finally able to meet for spring practice, they will have to hit the ground running, as if they have been together for a couple of seasons.

While McCarthy has kept on Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator, the former Green Bay Packers coach will be bringing his own concepts and ideas after spending a season away from the game. In other words, it won't be the same Moore playbook from 2019.

McCarthy knows that he and Moore have to be creative with their offensive installs, given the lack of time.

"Kellen and I have been having these nightly meetings and that's pretty much how they end every night," McCarthy told reporters on May 27. "You get into these installs: how much do we want to give them in the first install? You've always made that decision based on where you think your football team is, and the irony for us is we haven't had our first team meeting let alone being really in-tuned to exactly where we are."

The situation is reminiscent of the 2011 NFL lockout. Players and coaches weren't allowed to meet as the collective bargaining agreement was being slowly hammered out between the NFL and NFLPA. Rookie mini-camps, organized team activities, mandatory mini-camps were lost as the two sides chiseled away at a new CBA that was finally ratified in mid-July, just in time for training camp.

"I am excited because this is probably going to be the most experienced team that I've coached, so we'll rely on that," McCarthy said. "I think if we were going to push to one side or the other we'd definitely push on the side of the volume because of our veteran experience."

The veteran experience also carries traces of youth and athleticism. While Dak Prescott has started in all 64 of his career games, the Pro Bowl quarterback will be just 27 years old when Week 1 kicks off on Sept. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Similarly, All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott will be 25 years old on Opening Day.

McCarthy's challenge will be determining how much information he wants to hit his team with as the Cowboys have limited prep time to rebound from an 8-8 finish that kept them out of the playoffs.

"You may be able to have 60 days to get a job done and everybody in our league is going to probably have more like 30 days," said McCarthy. "So, I’m really focusing on maximizing the time and the meeting time and the most important things we need to get done when we do get back together."

How do you think the offense will perform under McCarthy in 2020? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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