Over the last month or so, we’ve done some serious digging into what Kellen Moore may bring to the Cowboys offense in 2019. In general, the hope is he will ‘freshen up’ what had become a perceived stale offense under predecessor Scott Linehan. The Cowboys had plenty of offensive talent but always seemed to be struggling for points in the 2018 season. Dallas ranked 22nd in points scored and the same for yards per game. The defense was the reason they captured the NFC East although things did get better once Amari Cooper arrived.
Linehan was viewed as wasting the talent by nor updating the formations and using the personnel in creative ways. As we’ve speculated in many articles, Moore will do more in that area. He will call for more pre-snap motion, more use of personnel formations that are currently in vogue, he will allow guys to move around and be used in a variety of ways. That has been the focus of the stories around Moore’s ascension to the offensive coordinator role.
That’s all good, but there is a more mundane task that Moore must master. Calling the plays. Not deciding the play to call, although that is also something he is certainly going to be working on, but the actual physical act of calling the play into Dak Prescott’s ear. He had never done that before until this past Pro Bowl. He found out there are certain things you have to keep in mind and that their is a rhythm to it.
“There’s a timing aspect of it,” Moore said. “[The communication] cuts off at 15 [seconds left on the play clock] but it doesn’t open up right away right after the snap, so you’ve got to get used to the timing. The whistle blows and you’ve got to wait that second before it lets you back in. If you’re too quick, you’re going to be sitting there like you’re talking and Dak’s not hearing anything. Fortunately Dak and I, we kind of understand each other. He knows if he’s not heard anything for a few seconds, he’ll peek back and [say], ‘I’ve got nothing going on,’ so we can work it out.”
“You get used to presenting it in a certain way because it becomes slightly different than when you’re normally talking,” Moore said. “So sometimes you’ve got to slow down a touch.”
This seems a like a small thing but getting it down without any issues allows the offense to function that much smoother. Fortunately, Moore will get four preseason games to smooth it out before he faces real-time conditions that matter.
Prescott has his view on what he wants to hear over the communications system.
“Just a sense of calmness and confidence, honestly,” Prescott said of what he wants from the person talking in his ear during games. “I get that from Kellen. I’ve gotten that from him for the last few years. You got it from when he was playing the game to back to my rookie year. He’s one of those guys I looked at and it almost knocked my confidence down just by the way he carried himself, the way he made plays on the field. But now to have him as a coach, you know when he’s calling plays, he believes in it. He’s very convicted about it. And you can feel it.”
The Cowboys can’t really simulate that in practice, but they do try to simulate making Moore come up with plays on the fly. Anybody who has attended an NFL practice knows they can be very regimented. The Cowboys are no different, but they do try to have times when coaches have to think on the fly, including Moore. This should help him develop as a play-caller, something he needs to do quickly for the Cowboys to succeed in 2019.
Practices are often scripted, but Garrett uses different play-it-out scenarios in the workouts that are not scripted. Moore said that has helped him get accustomed to the pace he needs as a playcaller.
”When I was calling plays, I wanted to be in those situations,” Garrett said. “I didn’t want to just look at a script in practice and just call plays over and over and over again. I wanted to be in it, ‘What is it? It’s third-and-2. It’s third-and-5. OK, where am I going to?’ You have to constantly rehearse those things. You have to practice those things as players, but you have to practice those things as coaches, too.”
Kellen Moore needs to do a lot to upgrade the Cowboys offense. A lot of that is tweaking the scheme, adding some subterfuge, and keeping up with the advances of the modern-day NFL. He seems to have the background to do that being a coach’s son and a quarterback. With that, you have to be quick and be ready to relay all of that onto the field when it’s crunch time.
This will be new for Moore. He’s already practicing it.