After the 2017 season ended, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett decided to make some wholesale changes to the structure of the Dallas Cowboys to avoid another disappointment, if 9-7 can really be called a disappointment. While offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli both remained with the team, much of the staff around them has changed. This series is meant to profile each coach, including the ones who stayed, and analyze how their presence will contribute to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. Today, we are looking at Dak Prescott’s personal assistant, Kellen Moore. Be sure to check out our other profiles below:
Of all the new faces on the coaching staff, none comes with as many question marks as their new quarterbacks coach, Kellen Moore. Of course, Cowboys fans are familiar with Moore, as he was a backup quarterback with Dallas for the past three seasons. But after sitting out the 2016 season with a fractured fibula and being supplanted by Cooper Rush in 2017, Moore decided to retire and become the top assistant to Dak Prescott.
The previous quarterbacks coach, Wade Wilson, had been with the Cowboys since 2007. He was there for the vast majority of Tony Romo’s career, and he was instrumental in Romo’s growth over the years. However, the sense is that Dallas wanted to make a change now that Prescott is the guy under center. It makes sense, too: Romo had his guy, and Prescott should have his guy. Considering how much the phrase “Dak-friendly offense” has been thrown around this offseason, it makes sense for Prescott to get his own guy.
Moore gained notoriety playing for Boise State. As a four-year starter, Moore had nearly 15,000 career yards and 143 touchdowns. He also became the first NCAA FBS quarterback to reach 50 career wins, and finished fourth in Heisman voting his junior year. All of this was despite being under 6’ tall and lacking significant arm strength and mobility. His college success was largely seen as a result of his impressive football IQ.
After going undrafted, Moore spent his first three seasons as the third-string quarterback for the Detroit Lions under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. After Linehan came to Dallas, Moore followed a year later. The reasoning that Moore remained on the roster for so long, despite his many physical limits, was reports that he knew Linehan’s offense inside and out. As such, he also effectively served as an assistant quarterbacks coach with all of this knowledge. When he was sidelined with injury in Prescott’s rookie year, he took on more of a coaching role than before. Prescott even credited Moore with helping him prepare every week:
“(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.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that Prescott pushed for Moore to become the new quarterbacks coach. After all, Moore has effectively been doing some of the work already. After losing his job as primary backup to the more talented, Rush, it seemed that a move to the staff was the only place left for Moore to go. Jason Garrett, who himself began as a quarterbacks coach after spending a considerable amount of time as a Cowboys backup, also supports the move:
“Kellen is one of those players at that position who in a lot of ways has been a mentor to Dak right from the start. Kellen played five, six, seven years in the league. He’s been around (offensive coordinator) Scott (Linehan), but he also has this maturity about him. He had it right from the start and he probably had it when he was seven years old playing Pop Warner. His understanding of situations, understanding of the game, is really, really good. He’s got a really good way about him and from that position as the third quarterback, I think he’s done a really good job for the quarterbacks in the room, helping them, supporting them along with the coaches that we have. To me, that’s always the best dynamic to have, if you have that chemistry in that room and can really help the quarterback who’s playing, I really believe very strongly in that and he’s done that.”
The main reason Moore remained on the roster for so long was his familiarity with Linehan’s scheme, and that should help in many ways already discussed. However, Moore will also need to get familiar with the way new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal runs his receivers, as the Dak-friendly offense is reportedly going to focus on getting receivers open in space and having Prescott throw to whoever is open. This approach plays to Prescott’s strengths, but it is a deviation from Linehan’s previous schemes. Moore’s high football IQ should supplement this change, and his pre-existing relationship with Prescott should make the coaching job a little easier for Moore.
He has no coaching experience on his ledger, but the reality is that Moore has been Prescott’s assistant quarterbacks coach for the past two years. Going into 2018 with the focus squarely on a Dak-friendly offense, this should be a good thing for the Cowboys.