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Cowboys mailbag: Questions about the Kellen Moore decision

People have questions about the Cowboys, and we strive to provide answers.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, we will be taking questions on Twitter about the Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

@JessWarren: Are we any better with Kellen Moore gone and Mike McCarthy calling the plays?

Brandon: We haven’t seen Mike McCarthy call plays on offense in at least five seasons, so it’s tough to know how effective it’ll be. During his 13 seasons in Green Bay, McCarthy’s offensive rankings were all over the map.

McCarthy spent the 2019 season out of the league, working on retooling himself as a coach and studying trends of the NFL. The Cowboys hope his offense performs as it did between 2009-2012 when the Packers were in the top ten in almost every statistical category. If his offense has improved or changed, we’ll know right away. If it doesn’t, there might be an early season exit for McCarthy.

Mike: The simple answer here is time will tell. The good news is we have seen Mike McCarthy calling an offense in the NFL with great success. Sure, toward the end of his time in Green Bay it became predictable and lacking tempo, but you can be sure that will be in McCarthy’s mind when looking to evolve his west coast system. Let’s see what weapons on offense this team adds, certainly the receiver position this offseason, to see what plans McCarthy has for his playbook.

@ColinCeasar: What would be better for Dallas - Stefon [Diggs] joining Trevon in Dallas or the Cowboys moving on from Diggs and replacing him in the draft?

Brandon: Unfortunately, I can’t see either scenario happening or benefiting the Cowboys. Stefon Diggs will account for a $20 million cap hit in 2023. Dallas can’t afford to pay that contract and the $26 million owed the following season. The front office needs to pay CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Micah Parsons within the next three seasons to keep their cost low relative to the market. Diggs is an elite corner in the NFL and should be with the Cowboys for a long time. Cutting him wouldn’t make sense because hitting on a No. 1 cornerback in the draft is like hitting on a No. 1 quarterback. It happens by chance, and when you find one, the team usually holds on to them.

Mike: Can see the idea of this hypothetical, and in a vacuum I would have to go with Stefon joining Dallas. Firstly I rank the cornerback position the hardest of all positions to learn and be good at. The development time for corners in the pros takes a while and Trevon is way ahead of the curve, so why give up on that now. Secondly we all know the issues with this wide receiver corps and with the McCarthy west coast system about to be adopted, then this roster needs way more pass catchers. Stefon would be a fine fit but the most obvious obstacle would be the cap cost.

@Steven Baker-Mountford: How do you think the front office are considering the RB position in the draft?

Brandon: Ezekiel Elliott might be the last running back the Cowboys ever take in the first round. Giving up that high draft capital for a running back is too costly in today’s NFL. When the Cowboys drafted Tyler Smith last season in the back half of the first round, they were taking a flyer on someone with quality traits playing a premier position. At the time, they might have over drafted him. However, his first season turned out better than expected, and he should be with the Cowboys for the next ten seasons. If they selected a running back, the player wouldn’t have helped them when the offensive line needed depth. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Najee Harris at No. 24 in the 2021 NFL draft. Looking back on the pick, they would probably do it over again if they could, looking at the players drafted after him.

Mike: I have no problem with drafting a running back early, even as early as the Cowboys took Ezekiel. The issue I have is signing a running back beyond their rookie contract. The most productive career point for a running back historically shows it’s the rookie contract, so when teams sign these players beyond their rookie years they are literally signing them for what they were, not what they will become. You have to consider the idea that the Cowboys may tag Tony Pollard, just to squeeze one more year out of him, which means they can wait on running back in the draft. Or they may feel since Pollard had a quiet couple of years behind Elliott, meaning there’s plenty of tread left on the tire, they may sign him long term. If that’s the case, then drafting a running back can wait. If Pollard leaves then this team will want to draft a replacement, but a first-round running back may not be what the front office will want to do. The second- and third-round options this year look more than capable of taking the job while being at good value. We can be sure Will McClay will know this and inform Jerry of players that would be of value on day two. Let’s see what they do with Tony, then we’ll know exactly what this team is considering at running back in the draft.

@AllanWoods: Thoughts on the Kellen Moore firing? If Mike McCarthy called the 49ers game, do you think we would have won the game?

Brandon: That’s a great question, and I think it played a huge factor in letting Moore go. I thought Moore did a great job calling plays during the regular season and could turn the offense into a top-five unit in the NFL. However, when the Cowboys lost to the 49ers in 2021, I gave Moore a pass, given it was his first time calling an offense in a playoff game. I needed to see more this season. Once again, the team made it to the playoffs and took on a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. The real test would be against San Francisco. Unfortunately, Moore’s inexperience once again cost the Cowboys the game being unable to adjust on the fly when the game changed. The Dallas defense was doing everything it could to give the offense opportunities. Moore did not deliver. The Cowboys are hoping that with McCarthy’s experience and offensive mind, he could have done a better job in the divisional round, which is why he is now calling the plays.

Mike: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it is the motto, but if it’s not working, change it. That’s what the front office has done. Two years in a row getting defeated in the playoffs leading to the exact same questions after each loss, there could only be one outcome. It was the offense that stalled each time so the blame had to go to Kellen Moore. I liked Moore at times and his offense could really play when he got hot with his play calling. The problem was always consistency, and also adversity. When ever this team stalled on offense or the opposing defense got momentum in game, Moore seemed to have no answer.

If McCarthy had called the game would the team of won? That I’m not so sure. The Pollard injury killed a lot of the game plan and confidence this team had. Then what San Francisco did on defense was just too much to overcome. The only plus with McCarthy you can point to in that final 49ers game is his experience and ability to adjust to adversity, and regaining control of the game would have be handled different if he was calling the offense. Would that have been enough in that game to win? Possibly.

Be sure to check @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on Twitter for the weekly post, asking you for your questions for the weekly mailbag

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