The Cowboys' new coach spent his year away from the NFL in a barn studying the game's modern trends to get another chance in the league

Paul Sancya/APMike McCarthy with the Packers in 2018.

  • The Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy as their new head coach on Monday.
  • After getting fired from the Green Bay Packers in 2018, McCarthy spent the past year in a renovated barn/garage with a group of coaches, studying all things football.
  • They reviewed everything from offensive snaps to quarterback footage to modern trends, including implementing analytics and building an analytics staff.
  • McCarthy was blamed for things getting “stale” in Green Bay and has said he wanted to improve on his weaknesses and innovate in his next job.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy as their new head coach on Monday, a day after they fired Jason Garrett.

The Cowboys came to a decision quickly, searching for experienced NFL candidates versus looking at highly touted college coaches like Lincoln Riley and Matt Rhule, as was heavily rumoured.

McCarthy was fired from the Green Bay Packers last season after 13 years. While he went 125-77-2 over that time, the end of his tenure left a sour taste, as the Packers went 23-23-1 in the last three years, while his relationship with Aaron Rodgers fractured. During his time away from the game, McCarthy knew he needed to take a deeper look at his philosophy and approach to the game.

As NBC Sports’ Peter King documented in December, McCarthy stayed in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with his family after getting fired and spent his days studying all things football in a “huge refurbished barn/garage/full-court basketball floor.”

According to King, McCarthy would often work with three other coaches, including former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett.

McCarthy and his staff would study everything, from reviewing “every offensive snap of the top 10 offences last year,” to dissecting formations and play calls, to reviewing quarterback footage.

McCarthy also designed what his football operations staff would look like, with a “14-person Football Technology Department, including a six-person video unit and an eight-person analytics team.”

According to King, McCarthy spent a day at the Pro Football Focus offices in Cincinnati, learning more about data and how to incorporate analytics into his program.

McCarthy told King that while he didn’t agree with criticisms that his coaching with the Packers got “stale,” he used the time away to “shed a light on it” and review how he could be more creative and innovative in his next job.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero also visited McCarthy at his compound, documenting the work McCarthy and his staff had been doing over the year. They showed footage of McCarthy’s setup, including the barn:

Mike mccarthy barnvia NFL Network/TwitterMcCarthy’s barn/garage.

To where the coaches group studied film:

Mike mccarthy coachesvia NFL Network/TwitterMcCarthy and a group of coaches studying film.

To McCarthy’s quarterback lab:

Mike mccarthy qb studyvia NFL Network/TwitterMcCarthy analysing quarterback footage.

McCarthy told Pelissero that working with a group of coaches allowed them to study more material, putting in hours from Monday to Friday.

“Frankly, we fell into it,” McCarthy said. “Watch video, stay on top of what’s going on in the NFL and in college. As we sat down and collaborated, the ideas grew, and the fact of keeping the group tight became a focus because it enabled us to get a lot more work done. Kind of a Monday-through-Friday operation, we wrote things down and made a board. The ability to share all of the information, but still make progress towards being ready for this next opportunity, personally, I think it’s helped all of us.

McCarthy now takes over a Cowboys team with plenty of talent but high expectations toward improving. Jason Garrett went 85-67 in 10 years with the Cowboys, making the playoffs only three times but never posting a losing season.

It will be up to McCarthy not only to get the Cowboys over the hump but to prove he can innovate and bring something new to a team that’s been good but not great.

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