Dallas Cowboy fans react during the fourth quarter in a 2024 NFC wild card game at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

As the Dallas Cowboys have once again failed to get past the first round of the NFL playoffs, losing to the Green Bay Packers 48-32, the calls for head coach Mike McCarthy to be fired are at a fever pitch. 

But if McCarthy goes, who should the Cowboys turn to? Do they turn to a veteran head coach with championship experience? Or should they start fresh with someone up and coming? 

If Jerry Jones does fire McCarthy, here are 8 potential replacements to consider as the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Pete Carroll

Just because Pete Carroll is no longer with the Seattle Seahawks, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to coach. In fact, he made it clear that he wants to keep going. He took two Seahawks teams to the Super Bowl, winning one, and his Seattle squads were consistently in the playoffs. He is also a defensive genius, something the Cowboys need after that humiliating loss. The only issue is age. Carroll is 72 and he’s already been through several rebuilds. Does he have another in him? 

Bill Belichick

We know his resume. Six Super Bowl championships. Numerous AFC titles. More playoff appearances than you can count. Bill Belichick is chasing history to become the NFL’s winningest head coach and he probably needs two or three more seasons to do it. Why not do it with America’s Team? Belichick is still a great defensive mind, but can he bring someone with him to handle the offense? What happened in New England the last few seasons on offense left a lot to be desired. 

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin might be a perfect fit for the Cowboys. He’s an offensive genius and, like owner Jerry Jones, loves the spotlight. He’d be a refreshing addition to the franchise. Kiffin’s first stint as an NFL head coach with the Oakland Raiders did not go well. But he appears to have matured since then and it may be his time to return to the NFL. Kiffin has built Ole Miss into a national championship contender but an NFL opportunity might be too hard to pass up. 

Jim Harbaugh

The hottest name in coaching is Jim Harbaugh. He just won a national championship with the Michigan Wolverines and it sounds like he’s considering a move back to the NFL. Harbaugh took the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl during his short but successful stint with them. He could ideally step right into this situation and turn it around pretty quickly. Harbaugh will have his pick of the jobs he wants, just a matter of him deciding which one he wants.

Dan Quinn

After the defense’s performance against the Packers on Sunday, the shine might be off Quinn, but he’s still a major coaching candidate to consider. A big part of why the Cowboys won the NFC East was Quinn’s defense. He is a proven winner and leader and he took the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl as their head coach. Although the team collapsed in that game, that doesn’t mean that Quinn can’t coach. Maybe this time around, he’ll finish the job. 

Kellen Moore

As some may recall, former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was seriously considered for the job when Mike McCarthy was hired. Moore was respected because of the job he did with the Dallas offense, but that was also the reason why he was let go. As good as the Cowboys’ offense was under Moore at times, it also stalled. Plus, quite frankly, the offense got better when McCarthy took it over this year. It also doesn’t help Moore that the Los Angeles Chargers offense struggled this year. Still, he remains a possibility. 

Nick Saban

Hey, why not? Although Nick Saban is retired, the one thing that eluded him in his glorious coaching career with success in the NFL. The Cowboys have the talent but not the discipline. Saban could bring that to this team. The question is, would Saban want to put himself and his family through another football season? Saban has already committed himself to not only spending more time with his wife but has vowed to stay on campus and help new Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Kalen DeBoer. Still, you gotta imagine Jerry at least calls. 

Dan Campbell

Jerry Jones would be crazy not to shoot his shot with Dan Campbell. Campbell was an assistant coach with the Cowboys and Jones has been very impressed with what he has done with the Detroit Lions. 

Jones said this about Campbell back in October “I think he’s a natural-born coach,” Jones said. “I thought he had the temperament, the physical skills to be an outstanding player, and I thought he was. So, he has that added positive dimension that he’s played in the NFL and he played the game the way it was supposed to be played, with everything he had regarding his commitment. He’s that kind of coach.”

Once the Lions’ playoff run is over, one way or another, you have to imagine Jones will put some feelers out to see if Campbell is looking for a bigger payday. 

{97.1 The Ticket}

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.