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Dak Prescott, Cowboys talk up 'Texas Coast' offense led by Mike McCarthy: 'A system that's not out there'

It's a new day in Dallas, with Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy calling the offensive plays for the first time since his final season in Green Bay in 2018.

Two days into mandatory minicamp, players are already noticing a difference.

"This is the 'Texas Coast,'" quarterback Dak Prescott told reporters Wednesday. "We just renamed that, the quarterbacks. It's got definitely some West Coast principles, but has a little bit of what we've done in the past and just marrying them together with a lot of detail and maybe in a sense, a system that's not out there."

By all indications, McCarthy won't be straying too far from how former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore operated the Cowboys offense for four years. The veteran head coach said earlier this offseason that the offense would still be in "Dak's language" and Dallas isn't throwing away last year's playbook.

The feeling out of Frisco, Texas, is more of a change in attitude and accent.

"It's more of an attitude deal," star guard Zack Martin said of McCarthy's effect as a "Pittsburgh guy" calling plays, via The Associated Press. "That's the best way I can describe it. The plays aren't going to change. We're going to run our inside zone, outside zone. I think it's just the mindset and attitude we're going to bring and that edge I talked about."

The Cowboys only have so much to improve upon in 2023. After boasting the top-ranked attack in points and yards in 2021, McCarthy and Moore's offense fell to fourth in points scored and 11th in total yards in 2022. Prescott also noticeably struggled with interceptions, leading the league in the category with 15; Dallas lacked steady receiver player behind CeeDee Lamb; and the running game once paced by Ezekiel Elliott stalled out.

As a result, the Cowboys cut Elliott, Dallas traded for Brandin Cooks to pair with Lamb and a healthier Michael Gallup, Moore left for the Chargers, and McCarthy took the reins as play-caller for the first time since his final days with the Packers. Brian Schottenheimer was also hired as offensive coordinator, though he will be more in charge of game-planning, already teasing a "fast" approach on offense.

So far, McCarthy likes what he sees from Prescott and Co's acclimation to the new way.

"I love the way we've challenged Dak mentally, and more importantly, I love the way he's attacked it," McCarthy said Wednesday. "I wouldn't say I didn't know it about him. I just think it's like all of us: You don't really know until you really stress and push. He's really handled these changes and adjustments, the input, because at the end of the day, the quarterback ... they need to own the offense.

"I have no interest in being known as some guru coach or a smart coach. I want smart, Hall of Fame-type quarterbacks. The only way to get there is you've gotta make them own the offense. You see it, he has the personality, but it's just like anything. This is our first year of playing the way we want to play, and he's done a really good job of taking ownership of that and with that the mental challenges. He's knocked it out of the park."

The defense is noticing a positive change, as well.

"It's a lot of great talent on the team from the running back position to the receivers, fast," cornerback Stephon Gilmore told NFL Network's Jane Slater. "Dak, you know, he's been great for a long time. So I think he can go anywhere on the field. He can run the ball, pass the ball, so anytime you can do both, you've got a chance to be special. ... Anytime you have a quarterback like that, you've got a chance to go all the way."

Expectations in Dallas this season will be just that -- for the Cowboys to go all the way, reclaiming the NFC East title from Philadelphia and finally making the NFC title game, at the very least. Dallas has the personnel to do it on the field and on the sidelines.

With McCarthy stepping into the play-calling role, much of the burden of this year's performance will also fall on his shoulders. If the Cowboys can't improve on last season's Divisional Round exit, the coach could go from "Texas Coast" to Texas toast in Big D.

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