Mike McCarthy is back at home after an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday. And while the Cowboys head coach isn’t fully up and around quite yet, just 24 hours after the procedure, he is still planning on manning the sideline Sunday night when his team takes the field against the division-leading Eagles.
“Full steam ahead,” said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on Thursday at the pre-practice press conference normally handled by McCarthy. Schottenheimer confirmed that McCarthy has already gotten back to work, doing what he can remotely on refining the Philadelphia game plans that were put in place earlier in the week and with an eye toward resuming normal playcalling duties for the Week 14 clash.
“We don’t anticipate anything different,” Schottenheimer explained. “Again, he’s involved in all the things. We’ll have a long conversation again this afternoon. He’s watching the practices and yeah, full steam ahead.”
McCarthy, 60, wasted no time in reconnecting with his staff after Wednesday’s surgery; Schottenheimer told reporters that he and McCarthy spoke by phone Wednesday night and again multiple times on Thursday, with the coach giving notes on the week’s game prep.
“He’s been very involved. He’s in good spirits,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s always good when he has a lot of suggestions when you talk to him on the phone: ‘Well, what do you think of this?’ That’s when I know he’s feeling good.”
McCarthy was not feeling so good Wednesday morning. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said that he saw McCarthy at the facility early and that his boss “just didn’t look good” while complaining of abdominal pain. After consulting with the team’s medical staff, McCarthy went to a hospital for further evaluation, where a diagnosis of acute appendicitis was given.
The players didn’t even find out what was happening until McCarthy wasn’t at the team’s midweek walkthrough; Quinn and special teams coordinator John Fassel led the day’s practice on next to no notice.
“There wasn’t much warning. It was like, ‘Here you go. You’ve got it.’ [Practice] was already scripted,” Fassel said, per the team website. “We just followed along with the plan that was already in motion, and we’ve got good bodies that can pick it up and keep it going.”
The Cowboys staff quickly fell back on lessons learned during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, when any player, coach, or staffer was just a nasal swab away from being sent home.
“You always have to have a contingency plan. Mike’s great about that; he does,” Quinn explained. “I think we all learned a lot a few years back in COVID: when a coach is down or a player is down, how does that go? He’s done a fantastic job of mapping- not just him or me or anybody else- who could then in that same spot say, ‘Hey, this is the next step and this is how we go.’ So we’re super organized and ready for that.”
Adjustments were made on the fly, and the business of football has continued in Frisco. The Cowboys don’t seem to have missed a beat in prepping for the biggest game of the year, even without their recuperating head coach. And all indications are they won’t be missing McCarthy, either, when kickoff finally rolls around.
Joked Quinn: “Do you think that tough Irishman is going to miss this game?”