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Cowboys change in offensive play-caller deemed an ‘overblown’ storyline of this NFL offseason

An argument that the change on offense really isn’t that big of a deal for the Cowboys.

NFL: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to offensive personnel, the Dallas Cowboys look much better on paper this June than they did last. Given that 365 days ago there was so much discussion and argument about the team trading away Amari Cooper and then doing nothing to supplement that position, this makes sense.

This offseason the Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks, and with him in the fold things seem more promising. There is also the fact that Michael Gallup is a whole year removed from his recovery from his torn ACL (suffered in January of 2022) as opposed to being squarely in the middle of it. Toss in that Jalen Tolbert has a season of NFL experience under his belt and you feel a lot better about the wide receivers.

Elsewhere the Cowboys look different, too. Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schultz are out, and while rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot emerged a bit at their position last season, newbies like Deuce Vaughn, Ronald Jones, and Luke Schoonmaker will help fill the void. It is not difficult to like this year’s offensive roster more than last year’s.

As much as we like the instruments though, there is also a new maestro conducting the orchestra. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was dismissed following last season and while Brian Schottenheimer has replaced him in name and title, it is head coach Mike McCarthy who will be calling the plays.

There is a lot of discussion that this is a rather big deal, but is it really one?

The change in offensive play-caller from Kellen Moore to Mike McCarthy was deemed an ‘overblown’ storyline of this NFL offseason

With the summer months now here we have an opportunity to look back at things across the league as a whole. Some expected moves, like Aaron Rodgers joining the New York Jets,actually happened. Some surprises caught us off guard, like the Buffalo Bills not really giving their offense any new and dynamic playmakers after seeing what they had was not enough (Dalton Kincaid is really their only marquee addition).

Some of these stories have been made into bigger deals than others and some have slipped through the cracks. Recently took a look at offseason storylines and diagnosed which ones they found to be overblown. As an example, things like the Philadelphia Eagles losing both coordinators and the San Francisco 49ers having another shaky quarterback situation were deemed overblown, but so was the change in offensive play-caller for the Cowboys.

5) The Cowboys’ play calling

It’s hard to find an offseason, any offseason really, where the Cowboys are not tied to a major storyline. This year is no different, as Mike McCarthy taking over play calling has become one of the big narratives to dissect.

There are a few layers to this, including the surprise exit of former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, the question of whether McCarthy’s preferred offensive system can work in today’s NFL and what it all means for the futures of Dak Prescott, a Super Bowl-hungry Jerry Jones and a roster that looks built to win now.

But on the day McCarthy was hired in Dallas in 2020, would it have been a shock then to suggest he might want to call plays eventually? Even with Moore considered a rising star in the business, that possibility always seemed like one to not completely rule out.

Could this be a bigger story if the Cowboys struggle offensively? Of course. And it’s completely fair to have a dash of suspicion at the rebranded ”Texas Coast” offense. But if Dak and CeeDee Lamb continue thriving, Tony Pollard continues his ascension and, most importantly, the Cowboys win more games, all the offseason bluster will be rendered pretty moot.

Mike McCarthy taking over offensive play-calling for the Dallas Cowboys is sort of the massive merging of polarizing things: The Dallas Cowboys themselves, Mike McCarthy (who is a divisive figure in the world of NFL discussion), and the Cowboys offense which features Dak Prescott front and center (the king of polarization).

The question that the author (shout out to Eric Edholm) poses about McCarthy and his original arrival in Dallas is a good one. Mike McCarthy has made his way in the NFL, including a Super Bowl win, off of his abilities as an offensive play-caller. To not ever see that in action with the Cowboys would make no sense.

At some point Dan Quinn will likely leave the Cowboys for a head coaching job, right? I know, a lot of people believe he will simply move to the bigger office at The Star, but we can agree that his future involves being a head coach again.

Imagine if his new team (even if it were Dallas) didn’t let him call plays on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously there are roles and responsibilities that belong to a head coach that can take up the capacity that play-calling does, but imagine never even going down that path and seeing what he could offer a team given that defense is where he made his way?

McCarthy’s arrival in 2020 happened to coincide with Kellen Moore’s takeoff at coordinator which is why things have been the way that they have for the last three years, and for what it is worth, the results prove that Moore is a worthwhile play-caller. But to the point about this storyline being overblown, there are so many people acting like the Cowboys are throwing out filet mignon for hamburger meat when McCarthy’s career accomplishments in the same role are very well-documented, even if people want to exclusively credit Aaron Rodgers for them.

Time will tell whether or not this change is the right one for the Cowboys but at the very least we are going to get an answer one way or another on this front. Whether it is good or bad will likely also be overblown.

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