A relationship between a quarterback coach and his starting quarterback is awfully important. It was former Cowboys assistant Wade Wilson that traveled quite a few times to meet with Dak Prescott and work him out during the draft process. When the Cowboys and Wilson parted ways this offseason, it was equally important for the front office to hire a guy who would fit with Dak.
Now that it’s no longer just rumor, former Cowboys backup quarterback Kellen Moore will retire and assume that role going forward. Without a doubt, Kellen Moore is one of those guys folks either really like or believe he’s overstayed his time in Dallas by a country mile.
Moore has no bigger fan than offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. When the Cowboys’ brass decided to keep the coordinators in place, that almost guaranteed a role for Kellen Moore somewhere in the organization. He’s a “Linehan Disciple” if you will, and the two have only spent one season apart since Moore entered the league in 2012.
When this was in the wee stages of just a rumor circulating around social media, lots of folks voiced their displeasure with an underwhelming NFL quarterback now being in Prescott’s ear. Despite popular opinion, Kellen Moore’s fan club reaches further than Scott Linehan or the blue field in Boise, you can now add Dak Prescott’s name at the top of the list:
“I’m a big fan of Kellen Moore,” Prescott said on the Newy Scruggs Show on NBC Sports Radio. “I pushed for that, and I know he helped me so much throughout the season, both seasons actually. He’s just so smart. I told him when he became a college coach and I had a kid, my son had no choice of who he was going to play for. I’m excited I get to play under him now, and I’m excited for him to take this role as a coach, and I know he’ll be really good at it.”
Moore’s calling card has been his intelligence and understanding of Scott Linehan’s offensive philosophies. You could argue that his football IQ may be the only true quality that kept him around an NFL locker room. With the Cowboys finding Cooper Rush, a UDFA that has served as Dak’s primary backup, Moore’s position on the depth chart became unnecessary.
At some point in the past month and change, or perhaps even before, the Cowboys spoke with Moore to gauge his interest in this job. Wade Wilson had been the quarterbacks coach since 2007 and for the majority of Tony Romo’s starting career. There was no pressure for Linehan to choose or groom his own guy when he was hired by Dallas because he already inherited a Pro Bowler. Now that the Cowboys double-downed on Linehan, it was only right that he be allowed to pick his sous chef. Now we know that his relationship with Prescott was just as big of a factor as his undying support from Linehan:
“The moment he became quarterbacks coach, we shared a message and I told him exactly the things I wanted to push me and challenge me, and I know he’s going to do that,” Prescott said. “He’s so smart; he knows the game so well. He can only benefit me.”
Some detractors will talk about the lack of NFL experience Kellen Moore has when his career is three total appearances as a pro in five seasons. This certainly is a far cry from his predecessor Wilson who threw for 17,283 yards, played 125 total games, and even made a Pro Bowl during his 19 seasons as a player. Heck, head coach Jason Garrett saw 40 games of NFL experience.
The issue is a dead one though because playing experience isn’t a prerequisite for coaching. Lots of NFL coaches never played a down in the pros and in the case of former Cowboys assistant Todd Haley, he never played football at all but he got a chance to run the Chiefs for three seasons.
It’s understandable to be uneasy about the Cowboys promoting Moore to such an important position when he has zero coaching experience. At the same time, it’s not like Moore will be alone, he’s got Linehan and Garrett to bounce things off. Moore is very much a “student of the game” as his family is full of football coaches much like Garrett’s. His playing career should have no correlation with his abilities as a coach because they’re truly unrelated.
Much was made about how helpful Moore was in Dak’s rookie year when Moore landed on IR after breaking his leg. He didn’t just spend all his time rehabbing, he watched tape up to three weeks in advance of upcoming opponents sharing that knowledge with Linehan, Garrett, and most importantly, Dak Prescott. Dak was asked last year about the help he got from Kellen:
“[He’s] a genius behind the scenes, who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does helping me out and helping this offense out. ... He’s an offensive coordinator in his own mind. He’s simply a genius when it comes to helping Coach Linehan out and early in the week giving looks, helping me out with things the defense does, maybe little keys here and there to tip me off or coverages or blitzes.”
In the past several offseasons, there are plenty of writers (including myself) that have written columns on why Kellen Moore shouldn’t be on the team. Countless times the folks that hated Moore, the quarterback, would say things like “if they like him so much, give him a coaching job but he just can’t be the backup.” Well, that wish was granted and as they say “be careful what you wish for”. All joking aside, if Dak Prescott “pushed” for this move to be made then it speaks volumes for Moore’s potential.
Ultimately, you want to keep your star quarterback comfortable, in a room of guys that he trusts can put him in position to succeed. He’s already given glowing endorsements of Scott Linehan and Kellen Moore suggesting they’re his “chosen ones”. It’s a bit premature for all the outrage and predictions of failure before we’ve ever had a chance to see it in action.