Kellen Moore is currently the youngest offensive coordinator in the NFL. While this could change with various vacancies yet to be filled, the youth of Moore is often interpreted as “potential.” This is why another year of Moore as the OC might seem attractive, given his room for growth.
But is there even a relationship between improvement and experience for coaches? Should Cowboys fans be excited about the perceived “continuity” and “room for growth?” Well, history doesn’t suggest so.
Believing that Kellen Moore will improve with another year of experience is misguided
For the second straight year, Moore has been involved in multiple head coaching interviews, yet every team has chosen another option. While this could seem preferable for Dallas since they retain their offensive coordinator by default, it might be symptomatic of a larger issue.
Because unless your name is Pete Carmichael Jr., offensive coordinators have a short lifespan with a single team. Put simply, OCs are either good enough to be promoted to a head coaching position, or they do not have that potential and get fired.
That is why there are only 15 offensive coordinators hired since 2008 that have lasted more than three years with the team that hired them. This is also why 33-year-old Kellen Moore is currently tied as the third longest-tenured offensive coordinator in the NFL. The grey area of “good enough to be an OC but not good enough to be a head coach” doesn’t really exist.
So, given that knowledge, what does history suggest about the fourth-year coaching as an offensive coordinator?
Looking at the fifteen prior OCs that have lasted four or more years, the Cowboys’ offense is likely to take a sizable step back in 2022. The average offensive coordinator sees a 1.4-point decline in points per game in year four compared to their average in years one through three.
Additionally, ten of the fifteen offenses declined to some degree, with 87% failing to improve by more than a single point. It is just as common for an offense to regress by two or more points per game as it is to improve whatsoever (Mike Shula regressed by exactly two points in his fourth year).
It would be reasonable to assume that offensive coordinators who have started well continue to improve. However, of the eight OCs that exceeded 24.5 points per game in their first three years, every single one of them regressed in year four. Kellen Moore has averaged 27.7 ppg since he took over the offense.
We discussed this idea among a few other things on the latest BTB Roundtable on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you ddon’tmiss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
Even the great Eric Bieniemy, who averaged 31 points per game across his first three seasons, declined to 28.2 points in 2021. This is not to say that Bieniemy regressed as a coach, but this season the Chiefs offense looked vulnerable for the first time since Patrick Mahomes took over in 2018.
But there is hope that Moore can be successful. Because, of the fifteen offensive coordinators that lasted more than four years with one team since 2008, four of them were hired in their thirties; Kyle Shannahan (now HC of the 49ers), Pete Carmichael Jr. (OC for Saints since 2009), Greg Roman (current OC for the Ravens), and Josh McDaniels (now HC for the Raiders).
Thus, you could argue that every OC that lasted more than four years after being hired in their 30s ended up having a successful career. This should be encouraging for Cowboys fans, given that Moore has been the offensive coordinator for three years, yet he is still only 33 years old. However, of those four, only Kyle Shannahan improved in year four, with the other three averaging a 2.7 point decline in ppg in their fourth season.
For better or worse, the Dallas Cowboys might be stuck with Kellen Moore for a while because Jerry Jones doesn’t like to fire offensive coordinators. With Moore set to enter his fourth season, that means that three of the last four offensive coordinators for the Cowboys have lasted more than three seasons.
Remember how OCs have shorter tenures because they either get promoted or get fired. Well, it takes a lot for Jerry to fire an OC, and thus they tend to last a while in Dallas. Here are the last four OCs for the Cowboys:
- Jason Garrett (2007-2010): Lasted four years averaging 24.6 points per game
- Bill Callahan (2012-2014): Lasted three years averaging 26.7 points per game
- Scott Linehan (2015-2018): Lasted four years averaging 21.7 points per game
- Kellen Moore(2019-2021): Lasted at least three years averaging 27.7 points per game
The argument is not to fire or retain Kellen Moore; a reasonable case could be made for either viewpoint. However, Jerry has shown loyalty to a fault towards his coaching staff, and Cowboys fans shouldn’t expect Moore to be gone if he has a down year in 2022.
Here is what is likely to happen next season; the Cowboys’ offense should regress, which isn’t necessarily a sign that Moore is a bad coach, but regardless of the performance, it would take a lot to be fired by Jerry. Maybe the regression isn’t as bad as suggested above because there is still a possibility that Moore improves this year.
But the argument that Moore will improve simply because he has another year of learning how to coach is not what history suggests will happen. Buckle up because this will be a big year for the 33-year-old offensive coordinator.