Kellen Moore has been a godsend for this Dallas Cowboys football team. Of course, that feeling hasn’t always been there as many of us fans took a long time to warm up to him. How much the coaching staff favored him seemed nonsensical at times, especially when he was ahead of rookie Dak Prescott on the quarterback depth chart in 2016. We were sold this idea that he was a brilliant mind and former head coach Jason Garrett’s affinity for Moore kept the Boise State star quarterback on this team.
Moore’s playing career was super short, starting only two games in that dreaded 2015 season where the Cowboys were scrambling for any sort of life at quarterback. The Cowboys lost both of those games, despite Kellen throwing for 435 yards and three touchdowns in his last ever NFL action. The Cowboys were smart to keep him with the team as the squad’s new quarterback coach. Some questioned if that was a little premature, but this organization saw something in him that they wanted to keep around. That job only lasted one season as Moore was then promoted to offensive coordinator where he has quickly established himself as one of the best young coordinators in the league.
And just when many are starting to appreciate him, the writing on the wall is that this brilliant young offensive mind is likely heading west to become the new head coach of Boise State. While that is good news for Moore as he cashes in on a great opportunity, this is going to be a huge blow for the Cowboys.
If you’re a glass is half full sort of person, then maybe you think that some other non-Moore factors can keep this offense rolling. It’s really hard not to be impressed with the job Moore has done, and one could argue that his offense is hands-down the best part of this current Cowboys football team, and that says a lot considering they are without their star quarterback Prescott and four of their starting offensive linemen.
It’s certainly possible that we’re giving Moore too much credit. It’s also possible we’re not giving him enough. Only time will tell what a Moore-less offense will look like, but if history is any indication, it’s not looking favorable. Today, we’re going to focus on a few different patterns that, while independently could mean different things, collectively paint a picture that this Cowboys team might struggle if they lose Kellen Moore.
The Cowboys made a huge mistake letting Eberflus get away
The Cowboys haven’t had a lot of good position coaches over the years. That’s why it becomes very frustrating when a good one gets away. Flashback to 2018 when the team lost their linebackers coach Matt Eberflus as he was hired to be the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. The Cowboys could’ve promoted him within and replaced Rod Marinelli, but they failed to see Eberflus’ true value. Instead, Kris Richard replaced him as the team’s passing game coordinator, and now Mike Nolan is the team’s new defensive coordinator. The Cowboys are going in the wrong direction defensively.
While it turned out bad for Dallas, it ended up being a great move for the Colts as their defense was struggling under their previous defensive coordinator Ted Monachino. Here are the Colts defensive ranks over the last five seasons.
The Colts are currently tied for first in their division and have a chance to make the playoffs for the second time in the three years since Eberflus joined the team. Prior to him joining the Colts, the defense was horrible and the team finished with a 4-12 record. And while the Colts defensive rankings aren’t superb under Eberflus, they are pretty fantastic considering the talent he’s had to work with. I mean, how many defensive players can you name on that Colts team? Darius Leonard definitely as he’s the lone Pro Bowler this year, and probably DeForest Buckner as the Colts traded a first-round draft pick to get him from the San Francisco 49ers this past offseason. The bottom line is that Eberflus is doing a fantastic job in Indy, and it’s way better than what the Cowboys have right now (currently giving up the third-most points in the league).
Kellen Moore is working miracles with this offense
It’s hard to judge coaches when so many things go south that you can’t pinpoint what the root cause is. This is why it’s premature to throw dirt on any type of assessment you have for Mike McCarthy as things must play out before that true judgement day arrives. One of the biggest mulligans the new head coach gets points to the fact that the Cowboys lost Prescott for the year coupled with an extensive amount of injuries to their offensive line. Yet despite all these hardships, it isn’t stopping Kellen Moore from keeping the offense humming.
The most notable thing from that stat is that Moore’s offense with a rag-tag offensive line and only five games with Prescott is better than Scott Linehan’s with a full season of Prescott and a healthier offensive line. Of course, with Moore and Prescott together, well...
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see what this offense could do in year two under Moore with Prescott healthy for a full season. We did get a taste, and the numbers were explosive. Having a decent quarterback is an absolute must if a team is to have any chance of success, and the Cowboys have actually done pretty good since Dalton returned from injury.
Since returning from injury, Andy Dalton and this offense are averaging 26 points a game (ranked 14th).— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 28, 2020
So, for anyone keeping score at home, Kellen Moore's offense with a viable backup and decimated offensive line is still scoring more points than half the league.
The Cowboys are 4-2 in this span and will play their season finale with a chance to go to the playoffs.
The uncertainty of not having Moore brings about great concern
Speaking of playoffs, the no. 1 seed Green Bay Packers are on the verge of their second-consecutive 13-3 season. Life after McCarthy has certainly been good for them, especially for their offense as the Packers are the highest scoring team in the NFL. We are quick to give new head coach Matt Lafleur all the credit, but we should also throw in their new offensive coordinator, Nathanial Hackett, as well. After all, we can’t say for certainty who’s the most influencing factor of Green Bay’s newfound offensive success.
But what we can say is that the duo has shown great improvement over McCarthy’s final two years in Green Bay, both of which were losing seasons.
What’s even more concerning is that Joe Philbin was McCarthy’s offensive coordinator during those final years. Now, we can’t say enough about what a great job Philbin has done as the team’s offensive line coach as that’s a hire worthy of applause. But as an offensive coordinator, there are reasons to be concerned. Some might say he has much better weapons in Dallas than he did in Green Bay, but then there’s that no. 1 scoring Packers offense staring us right in the face, so that’s not really a take that holds much water.
Without Moore, we don’t know necessarily who will become the team’s new offensive coordinator. On the surface, Philbin does seem like the most logical choice. Regardless, if it’s going to end up being someone different than Moore, the odds are it’s going to be a downgrade.
It’s depressing to think about, but the Cowboys could be on the verge of losing the best coach on this current coaching staff.