Mike McCarthy’s arrival to Dallas doesn’t necessarily spell Kellen Moore’s departure as offensive coordinator.
While the former Green Bay Packers‘ Super Bowl-winning head coach is likely to shoulder at least partial play-calling duties, a scenario exists in which Moore is retained on the revamped Cowboys staff. A very plausible scenario.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that McCarthy is “more than open” to keeping the 31-year-old wunderkind, who just completed his first season as an NFL OC.
“McCarthy likes OC Kellen Moore, I’m told. Nothing more firm than that, but it does seem like McCarthy is more than open to keeping him,” were Rapoport’s exact words.
FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer, who broke the news of McCarthy’s hiring, has heard similar rumblings.
“I do think he likes Kellen Moore,” Glazer said Monday on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “I think Kellen Moore will be there.”
Taking over for Scott Linehan, Moore was a breath of fresh air in 2019, 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 rookie coordinator — but the results speak for themselves.
The Cowboys finished with the league’s top offense in yards per game (431.5) and the second-best passing attack (296.6 YPG), as Prescott ranked 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.
In an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King, McCarthy broke down one of his favorite offensive plays he saw this year, dialed up by Moore.
It’s important to note, however, that McCarthy was given complete autonomy in piecing together his staff, which now features former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as the new defensive coordinator.
In other words, if Moore stays, it’s because McCarthy decided he could.
“Nope. Nope. Zero,” Glazer responded when asked if McCarthy was forced to make concessions regarding holdover assistants, via Blogging The Boys. “At first the Cowboys I think were looking at it like ‘We love our offensive coaches, we’d love to do that,’ but at the end they talked to Mike and they all talked through it. And I think they realized ‘You know what we’ve done this in the past, we’ve tried to push certain coaches on others,’ we can’t do it this time. And they pulled off.”
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Cowboys Tab Nolan as New DC: Report
Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, McCarthy has been “putting in a ton of time” over the last several months “tracking league trends.” Out of football this past season, he consulted other unemployed coaches ostensibly to keep his finger on the pulse of an ever-changing sport.
This diligence has led to a new defensive boss in Big D: Nolan, now-formerly the Saints’ linebackers coach, who accepted the promotion Monday, according to multiple reports.
An NFL lifer, Nolan’s professional resume dates all the way back to 1987, when he cut his teeth as the Denver Broncos’ special teams coordinator. He was bumped to Broncos linebackers coach in 1989 and earned his first coordinating gig, with the New York Giants, in 1993.
Since then, he’s held DC duties with the Washington Redskins (1997-99), New York Jets (2000), Baltimore Ravens (2002-04), Miami Dolphins (2010-11), and Atlanta Falcons (2012-14).
Nolan’s biggest job came in 2005 when he was named San Francisco’s head man, succeeding Dennis Erickson. His Niners tenure was entirely underwhelming; he compiled an 18-37 head-coaching record across four seasons. He was fired midway through the 2008 campaign and replaced by Mike Singletary.
Following a 2015 one-and-done stint coaching the Chargers’ linebackers, Nolan landed in New Orleans in 2017, where he’s helped transform a once-laughable defense into an upper-echelon unit. In 2019, the Saints finished fourth against the run and totaled 51 sacks, third-most in the league.
Nolan will take over the role previously occupied by passing game coordinator Kris Richard, who interviewed for the New York Giants’ head-coaching vacancy last week. Richard reportedly could stay with the Cowboys in an undisclosed, but different, capacity despite Nolan’s addition. DC-in-title-only Rod Marinelli is expected to depart.
Glazer Reveals Details on McCarthy’s Hiring
If it seems like Dallas’ deal with McCarthy came together quickly, that’s because it did. His interview at The Star on Saturday carried over into Sunday and culminated with a sleepover at Jerry Jones’ house (yes, really). On Monday morning, hours after the team axed Jason Garrett, McCarthy put pen to paper on a five-year contract.
“They just fell in love with him throughout the night,” Glazer said, via Blogging The Boys. “Again I reported yesterday on our FOX NFL Sunday playoff show that he was still in Dallas. The interview was only supposed to last the first day, but it went so well they ended up keeping him overnight.”
McCarthy won out over several other candidates — some experienced (Marvin Lewis) and others not so much (Lincoln Riley, Urban Meyer) — because, the Cowboys feel, he embodies everything Garrett wasn’t during his decade in the big seat.
“Jason Garrett obviously a Princeton kind of guy. Mike McCarthy is just a Pittsburgh guy,” Glazer said. “Worked at the tollbooth. He’s a grunt. And the way he went in there and explained how he would run their offense, run their team. That team needs a lot of discipline also.”
Glazer added: “Look all of the pieces are in place. They just need some ball coaches who can kind of ratchet up the discipline there and use those pieces a little bit better.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL