The Dallas Cowboys had a dud of an offensive performance in Week 1, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is already receiving public criticism.
Dallas was beaten 19-3 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to begin the 2022 regular season, and that scoreline speaks for itself. After scoring a field goal on the opening drive, the Cowboys failed to muster any real offensive traction the rest of the game.
Some responsibility falls on the players and the fact that quarterback Dak Prescott was injured, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is calling out his offensive coordinator. McCarthy spoke to the media on September 16, and stated that Moore has to be “smarter” with his decisions.
“Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Kellen Moore has to be smarter in his play calling,” Star-Telegram reporter Clarence Hill Jr. Tweeted. “McCarthy said Moore needs to be more conservative.”
More specifically, The Athletic reporter Jon Machota Tweeted out McCarthy’s plan to work more closely with Moore before the Week 2 clash against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“In Kellen’s time as a coordinator he’s been able to play very, very aggressive, but we’re in a phase right now that we gotta be a little smarter in certain situations,” McCarthy said.
Cowboys Struggle in Season Opener
McCarthy has a point: the team’s starting quarterback is injured (as is the team’s No. 2 receiver and starting left tackle,) so the Cowboys need to plan accordingly. However, there’s not much to feel great about when it comes to a more conservative game plan.
Dallas can be encouraged that running back Ezekiel Elliott averaged 5.2 yards per carry last Sunday, but they only handed the ball off to him 10 times. Further, the more dynamic Dallas running back, Tony Pollard, only got six handoffs and totaled just eight yards.
A mediocre and somewhat unorganized rushing performance is on Moore, but the Cowboys’ offensive line has to step up as well. The Buccaneers had seven total tackles for loss, and the four sacks Tampa added to the box score shows that the offensive line is a problem for both the rushing and passing sides of the offense.
Moore can take a more conservative approach to the offense, but Dallas has to figure out a solution on the offensive line first and foremost.
Ex-NFL Exec Believes Issues Don’t Start with Prescott
In a recent interview with Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo, former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner broke down his approach to the Cowboys’ situation. While Prescott and Moore own some responsibility, the former NFL exec believes the real issue is on the offensive line.
Banner highlights’ the Cowboys’ best seasons in the 1990s when the team boasted top-end talent at all of the offensive line spots.
“The reason they’re struggling, even when Dak was playing, was the offensive line is breaking down,” Banner said to Lombardo. “That’s obviously a talent issue. You can see, since Jerry bought the team, when they’ve done well, they’ve had dominant offensive lines. When they’ve struggled, they’ve had beatable offensive lines. That’s where they are now, with or without Dak.”
Either way, Banner’s “wake up call” to the Cowboys is clear: fixing the offense starts with fixing the offensive line.