October 10, 2020 | 5:14pm
Mike McCarthy was up for grabs, and both the Giants and Cowboys took a look-see. The two NFC East rivals interviewed the Super Bowl-winning former Packers head coach a few days apart in early January, and the Giants were interested in a second meeting. That never transpired because something happened.
Joe Judge happened.
Judge, 38, wowed the Giants in his one interview and came from far back in the field to emerge as the hire. He is 0-4 thus far this season. McCarthy, 56, with an extensive résumé, was a safe choice, as the Cowboys saw themselves in win-now mode and sought a proven coach to replace Jason Garrett. McCarthy has struggled, though, as a porous defense has led to a 1-3 record heading into Sunday’s game against Judge’s Giants at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys are averaging 31.5 points a game operating McCarthy’s offense. But they are a fortuitous onside kick against the Falcons from being 0-4.
“Well, first thing we need to change is the formula for victory,’’ McCarthy said. “We don’t want to be in games like we’ve been in all four games, we’ve been behind in each game. We’ve been productive, but our turnover ratio is negative, our time of possession is negative, field position is a negative and quarterback differential is a negative, so those are four focal points for us. We’re looking to play better as a team, play team football and complement each other better because we have not achieved that in the first four games.’’
The Giants’ search for the successor to Pat Shurmur consisted of five interviews: Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive play-caller), McCarthy, Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator), Don Martindale (Ravens defensive coordinator) and Judge. They had a meeting set up with Matt Rhule, the Baylor head coach, who was a serious candidate. Rhule got intercepted by the Panthers, and the Giants would not match Carolina’s seven-year contract offer. They directed their attention to Judge, a lesser-known option who gave what co-owner John Mara called one of the best interviews he ever heard.
After that, there was no need to go through with the second McCarthy interview the Giants had been considering.
“Great experience,’’ McCarthy said of his meeting with the Giants.
The Cowboys came into this season as the favorites to win the division. The Cowboys, Giants and Washington are all operating with new coaching staffs.
“There’s always a transition period, and frankly we’re still going through our own transition to get to where we want to get to as fast as we can,’’ McCarthy said.
Asked if he is already feeling any heat, McCarthy said, “I’m focused on beating the Giants.’