To mild surprise, new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy not only retained Kellen Moore — one of just three Jason Garrett-era holdovers kept by McCarthy — but he granted the 31-year-old offensive coordinator full play-calling autonomy.
The former Packers Super Bowl-winning coach handled those duties for much of his tenure in Titletown. And it’s “certainly very appreciated” that Moore will do the honors in 2020.
“Certainly at the end of the day, I know this thing will be collaborative and we’ll work through it together, and we’ll find the best situation and best outcome out of it,” Moore said Monday, via Pro Football Talk.
Taking over for Scott Linehan, Moore was a breath of fresh air this season, his creative passing concepts a welcome change for quarterback Dak Prescott and everyone involved in Dallas’ offense. He wasn’t perfect — rather inconsistent and mistake-prone, befitting a first-year coordinator — but the results speak for themselves.
The Cowboys produced the league’s top offense in yards per game (431.5) and the second-best passing attack (296.6 YPG), as Prescott finished second behind Jameis Winston with a career-high 4,902 passing yards, one shy of the team’s all-time single-season record held by Tony Romo.
Upon arriving at The Star, McCarthy undid the entirety of the offensive staff, pink-slipping QB coach Jon Kitna and replacing him with ex-tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier. He imported Nussmeier’s successor and new assistants to tutor the running backs, wide receivers, and offensive line.
Moore, however, was left in limbo as he explored an OC job at the University of Washington and McCarthy mulled his play-calling options. But the two never discussed a split, nor a scenario where Moore was demoted, despite speculation which suggested otherwise.
“We really didn’t even get down that road,” Moore said, via PFT. “We just talked thru everything. It became a great opportunity, and I really thought Mike and I would work really well together however it turned out.”
In a sitdown with local media earlier this month, McCarthy confirmed a Jan. 6 report that claimed he “likes” Moore and was “more than open” to keeping him around — regardless of title. If this meant ceding the controls, so be it.
“Kellen was someone I was watching from afar, regardless of what opportunity worked out for myself,” McCarthy said, per Pro Football Talk. “The opportunity to work with Kellen was something I was going to pursue either way.”
McCarthy plans to leave most of the offensive terminology unchanged, easing the transition from Garrett and providing all-important continuity for Prescott and Co. He hired former Packers OC Joe Philbin, now the Cowboys’ OL coach, and ex-Packers QB Scott Tolzien, now an offensive assistant, in part because they’re plugged into his thinking.
“Between us, we can take this offense forward another step,” McCarthy said on Jan. 16, per ESPN.
Moore doesn’t disagree.
“We’re a 2020 Dallas Cowboys offense,” he said Monday, via PFT. “It’s molded and put together in so many ways. You learn from everyone you’re around, so you piece it all together. I don’t know what the title is, but it’s our new offense.”
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Two Additional Staff Members Brought Aboard
McCarthy has pieced together the entirety of his Cowboys coaching hierarchy, quickly nabbing the most vital assistants and then slowly rounding out the lower-level staff. Two more men have been adjoined to the latter group.
The team has hired Matt Daniels as assistant special teams coach and Cannon Matthews as defensive quality control coach.
Daniels arrives to Dallas from the Los Angeles Rams, where he served in the same capacity under John Fassel, whom the Cowboys tapped as their new special teams coordinator, replacing Keith O’Quinn.
Matthews previously held the same title for the Washington Redskins and was let go following the hire of HC Ron Rivera. He’ll
fetch coffee for report to new Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL