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Cowboys News: How coaching staff is taking shape; why Pro Bowl is suddenly “must-watch” TV.

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The Cowboys are expected to finalize their coaching staff next week.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott: Kellen Moore ‘has got the mind’ for OC job - NFL.com
Although the hiring hasn’t been made official, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott gave his thoughts on Kellen Moore being rumored as the leading candidate for the vacant offensive coordinator job.

While the Dallas Cowboys remain mum on their offensive coordinator hire, the growing assumption is that Jason Garrett will hand the gig to rising assistant Kellen Moore.

Such a move would sit well with quarterback Dak Prescott.

”You look at Kellen, people say he can’t do this or can’t do that,” Prescott said Thursday from the Pro Bowl, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He is the winningest quarterback in college football history. He made a career for himself in the NFL for a long time because of how he knows the game, how quick he is in processing the information, seeing defenses, learning what is happening offensively and defensively. He has got the mind for it.”

If he gets the coordinator gig, it would be a meteoric rise for the 29-year-old Moore. After going undrafted in 2012 out of Boise State, despite an award-winning career, the quarterback landed in Detroit for three seasons but did not see a regular-season snap. He then spent three years in Dallas, where he made two starts in 2015.

When with the Cowboys, Moore was very much viewed as a player-coach, especially during Prescott’s rookie season, when Moore suffered a season-ending injury during training camp.

The Pro Bowl will provide a sneak peek at the Cowboys new offensive coaching system - David Howman, Blogging The Boys
Howman explains why the Pro Bowl is “must-watch TV” for Cowboys fans this year.

During practices with the NFC Pro Bowl team, Kitna has been primarily working with the quarterbacks. Doug Nussmeier has been working with the tight ends, as he has all year, and it was Kellen Moore who was in charge of installing the offensive scheme and calling plays.

Based on these Pro Bowl practices, the most likely scenario is that the offensive scheme that Garrett’s staff is using will be compiled by Moore, Nussmeier, and Kitna, with Garrett keeping a watchful eye, and then Moore will call the plays in the all star game on Sunday.

The low (non-existent?) stakes of the Pro Bowl effectively allow Moore and company to have a trial run at this; after all, the three quarterbacks Moore will be calling plays for - Russell Wilson, Mitchell Trubisky, and Dak Prescott - all possess similar skill sets, so it’s good practice for finding ways to utilize their strengths, most notably their mobility. If Garrett likes what he sees, then perhaps Moore will get the offensive coordinator job will full play-calling duties. It also gives fans a chance to see what kinds of plays Moore can draw up.

Former Boise State QB Kellen Moore likely in new Dallas role - Dave Southorn, Idaho Statesman
Idahoans are keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Dallas.

To the surprise of almost no one in the Treasure Valley, former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore quickly has made a name for himself as a coach, spending this season as the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach.

The ex-Boise State great is rumored to be in line to be either the new offensive coordinator or passing game coordinator. Moore is running the NFC’s offense at the Pro Bowl.


Ed Werder: Jon Kitna is head-coaching material - Staff, SportsDay
Werder recently joined 103.3 ESPN and shared this perspective on Kitna:

”I can tell you, the guy I’ve really heard great things about is Jon Kitna. I’ve talked to a couple people who worked with him in the brief time he’s been in this Alliance of American Football league, and one of them is Mike Martz, who we all know ran ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ ... and Martz told me that Kitna’s going to make everyone better. That the quarterbacks will excel at a level they didn’t even know was possible for them. And somebody else in the Alliance league who knows Kitna well told me that, in this person’s opinion, he’s better as a future long-term head coaching prospect than many of the people who have just been hired to that position in this most recent cycle of hires this offseason.”

Jason Garrett’s future is at a crossroad - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
It’s funny how the anti-Garrett crowd always comes up with new reasons why next season will be Garrett’s last season. I wonder what the meme-du-jour (“Garrett taking over playcalling is his last chance in Dallas”) will morph into once Garrett signs his contract extension.

Hill notes that there has been no news of contract talks with Garrett, and somehow concludes that a fiery assistant coach who’s interviewed unsuccessfully with five different teams for a head coaching job is the biggest threat to Garrett’s job.

If things don’t work out in 2019, the coach who will be replaced is Garrett. Even owner Jerry Jones won’t be able to save him. And probably won’t want to with fiery secondary coach Kris Richard on staff and a viable replacement option.

The plan for Kris Richard in Dallas – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Watkins speculates on how titles could be shuffled on defense.

The Cowboys probably need to do something for Richard. He interviewed for three head coaching jobs and didn’t get any. The Cowboys are happy to have Richard back; their defense is a young, strong unit that should improve further next season. But do the Cowboys need to give Richard a new title to keep him happy? He’s currently the defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator. He shares playcalling responsibilities with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

On the surface, it appears Marinelli is running the defense and Richard is there for support. One option could be making Richard the defensive coordinator, while Marinelli becomes an assistant head coach/defensive consultant. If Garrett calls the offensive plays he will need someone to help manage the game with him, and this is where Marinelli checks in. He’s a former head coach whose defensive duties could decrease some. You can also expect Andre Gurode to get a few more responsibilities on the defensive side after working on the defensive line with Leon Lett in 2018. Richard is well-respected in the organization; if something goes truly, deeply wrong for the Cowboys in 2019, Richard would be the favorite to take over on an interim basis.

Why The NFL Can’t Rely On Defense - Josh Hermsmeyer, FiveThirtyEight
A timely reminder that defensive success is usually a temporary thing.

Teams are more reliably good — and bad — from game to game and year to year on offense than on defense. Individual defenders often have wild swings in performance from season to season, and defensive units forecast to be dominant often end up being merely average. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense took them as far as the AFC championship a year ago, but that same defense led them to five wins this season. Meanwhile, performance on offense is generally easier to forecast, making investments on that side of the ball more reliable.

Turnover margin is the canonical example. Teams that win the turnover battle go on to win their games at a very high rate. Yet despite their clear importance, the number of turnovers a team creates in one season has no bearing on how many turnovers the team will create in the next. Both interceptions and fumbles are completely unpredictable from season to season at the team level. And this pattern holds true for defense in general. If we measure the stability of defensive stats from one year to the next, we find that compared with offensive performance, most defensive stats are highly variable from year to year.


Mailbag: Early Draft Need? - Rob Philips and Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com
How likely is it that the Cowboys take a tight end with their highest draft pick?

Rob: If the best player left on the board is a tight end, he should get very strong consideration. This is a different story than past years when the Cowboys drafted second-round tight ends that sat behind peak Jason Witten. Jarwin and Schultz made progress, but Geoff Swaim is a free agent and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding more players who can help Dak Prescott in the passing game. Besides, name me another position where a late second-round pick is guaranteed to make an instant impact.

Bryan: If a tight end is the best player on that board I am going with that. There is a good chance that there will be one that helps you before any of the other positions you might be looking at.


Introduction to next-gen-scrapy - Sarah Mallepalle, Carnegie Mellon Sports Analytics
Mallepalle took all 400+ pass charts from NFL.com's Next Gen Stats from 2017 onwards, extracted every pass location on the field, and turned all of that into a dataset with very interesting results - if you like your football knowledge to be more fact- than opinion-based.

Let’s dive into a few examples from our next-gen-scrapy Shiny app, which shows the kinds of data visualization and analysis we can do with our output dataset. As a start, we plot all the pass locations in the 2018 Regular Season, and color the locations by whether they are complete or incomplete.