Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones revealed Tuesday that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was “held back” at times this season as a roundabout solution to aid the team’s historically futile defense.
“The challenge here all year long, has been how to compliment, and frankly not only adjust for our lack of players with injuries, Dak being specific, and the offensive line, but how to compliment the defense,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We actually, you might say, held Kellen back on productivity, just so we could stay out on the field longer at times. That’s been again to help the defense out. It’s why the running game can be so important, because you get to stay out on the field longer.”
A juggernaut with Prescott under center, Moore’s bunch has retained its efficacy sans the franchise quarterback. The offense, led by backup Andy Dalton, currently ranks seventh in passing (264.1 YPG), 12th in total yards (376.1 YPG), 16th in scoring (25.1 PPG), and 17th in rushing (112.0 YPG).
Dalton turned in his best game as a Cowboy in Sunday’s 37-17 win over Philadelphia. The former longtime Bengals starter completed 22 of 30 passes for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, spawning a pair of 100-yard wide receivers (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup) and a 100-yard rusher (Ezekiel Elliott). Altogether, across eight starts, Dalton has thrown for 1,926 yards, 14 TDs and seven INTs on 187-of-286 (65.4%) passing.
Jones indicated it’s not coincidental that Moore is being heavily courted by Boise State after the magic he’s performed across two seasons as Dallas’ play-caller.
“He’s unique. He’s certainly unique for the job there at Boise State because of his great career there,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “But Kellen is very unique. He’s unique to us because he knows the players so well, played with them, he’s unique because of his relationship with Dak, and frankly, he’s unique because now of his relationship with Andy Dalton. He fits real good for us right now.”
The strategy paid off, too. Following a comically bad start to the 2020 campaign, the Cowboys defense now ranks ninth in takeaways (21; 12 forced fumbles, nine INTs) and 11th against the pass (228.7 YPG). Mike Nolan’s twice unit picked off Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and recovered a Hurts fumble, while holding the dual-threat rookie to just one score, amid the Week 16 victory.
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Jerry Addresses BSU Speculation
Jones was asked during his weekly radio interview about the possibility of Moore defecting Dallas to become the next Boise State head coach. His response hinted at an impending departure with the 32-year-old returning to his alma mater.
“You’ve asked specifically about Kellen and I’m reluctant to be funny. But I’ll say this to anyone. Remember the two buzzards sitting on the limb and one’s got his neck turned around looking at the other and says, ‘Patience my ass. I’m going to kill something.’ As they surveyed the landscape,” Jones said. “And, so, I’m not really demeaning patience. You’ve got to have it, I guess. But the bottom line is that when it’s there, take it, and when it’s not there sometimes we’ll rustle it up.”
Jones’ remarks echoed that of Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, who similarly cracked the door for Moore’s exit after Sunday’s resounding conquest of the Eagles.
“As far as Kellen’s potential opportunity, that’s really not for me to speak on,” McCarthy said, via the Dallas Morning News. “I think that’s something that we’ll ultimately speak on. I can only tell you that we think the world of Kellen. He’s done an incredible job here. We definitely respect and understand the uniqueness of this opportunity to Boise, himself and his family. I think at the right time, that’s really for Kellen and Boise State to speak on. I’ve probably said too much already, but we think the world of him.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL