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The Week 6 edition of "Monday Night Football" between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium isn't going to be the cliché just another NFL regular season game, despite what those involved in the game may say. New Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will face the Cowboys, the team he played on as a backup quarterback from 2015-17 and began his coaching career with after serving as their quarterbacks coach (2018) and their offensive coordinator (2019-22) for the first time. His tenure in Dallas ended shortly after the Cowboys' 19-12 NFC Divisional Round playoff defeat at the San Francisco 49ers last January after head coach Mike McCarthy let him go. 

The Cowboys had plenty of success with Moore, ranking second in the league in points per game (27.7) and second in total yards per game (376.3) behind only the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs from 2019-22 in those metrics. Following consecutive disappointing playoff defeats, McCarthy felt the need to take back offensive play-calling duties, something he did in 12 of his 13 seasons as head coach with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-18. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV in the 2010 season, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers developed into one of the NFL's all-time greats during that time. However, when McCarthy was first hired as the Cowboys head coach, he kept Moore on his staff as the team's offensive play-caller for three seasons from 2020-22. A recommendation from Moore's college head coach at Boise State, Chris Peterson, was instrumental in Moore staying in Dallas for as long as he did with McCarthy. 

"It usually starts with mutual individuals that give you recommendations," McCarthy said Wednesday when reflecting back on how he came to the decision to keep Moore as his offensive coordinator and play-caller. "At that time, we were represented by the same agency, and Chris Peterson is someone I have a lot of respect for. I was able to step away in the 12 months prior to that and watch the league from afar. I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of what was going on in Dallas and the direction I felt the team needed to go. You look at all of those things. On a personal level, he is as fine as a young man as I've worked with."

When zooming out to look at how different McCarthy's offense is from Moore's, it's apparent there isn't much of a difference at all through the first quarter of the season. When you remove non-offensive scores, of which the Cowboys have four this season, and take the temperature of the Dallas offense, it's averaging 21.2 offensive points per game this season, down 5.2 points per game from last season. One of McCarthy's big philosophical assertions about his offense versus Moore's was that he "wanted to run the damn ball." That was said in the context of maintaining possession and not wearing out his defense. So far, the Cowboys are running the football at essentially the same rate as they did in Moore's offense. Meanwhile, the Chargers are averaging five more points per game with Moore (27. 5 in 2023 vs. 22.5 in 2022) while quarterback Justin Herbert has increased his average pass length to 8.8 in 2023, the sixth-longest in the NFL, after averaging 6.4 last season, the third-shortest in the NFL. 

Cowboys offense last two seasons


Offensive PPG



Total YPG


Red Zone TD Pct71.4%36.8%*
Run Pct37.1%36.9%
Time of Possession29:20*32:16

*Ranks 16th or worse in NFL

Moore described Monday's matchup with his former team as a game that will be "fun." 

"A lot of people that you're close to and you'll be close to for a long time," Moore said Friday.

However, he denied there being any additional motivation stemming from his Dallas departure. 

 "No," Moore said. "Obviously, we're at 2-2. We got an awesome game right here against a really good team that's played some really good football. It's easy for everyone to overthink it."

Dak Prescott
DAL • QB • #4
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Dak Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowler and 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year, made sure he didn't overlook giving credit to Moore for his career success. Prescott entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2016, initially behind both Tony Romo and Moore on the depth chart. Both suffered preseason injuries, allowing him to be the Cowboys' starting quarterback as a rookie. Moore coached Prescott for five of the 30-year-old's eight NFL seasons.

"Huge part of it.," Prescott said Friday when asked about the impact Moore has had on in his NFL success. "Coming into this game as a young rookie, drafted in the fourth round and was really just battling for a few snaps. As I told y'all, with a guy like Kellen in front of you, that's demoralizing. Seeing a guy that knows the game that well, me being as young as I was and not knowing it, that's why he's having the success he's having as a play-caller and a coach, because of his mindset, because of how smart he is and his personality. For me to come up under him and be in the quarterback room with him the next year before him taking over to being a quarterback coach, fast track to an OC, which he's been phenomenal at. A guy that sees the game, very innovative, he's going to try things. He's been huge to my career. I know that he's going to have a lot of success out there in LA and wherever is next for him. Got a great quarterback on his hands there. He's more than a coach. Obviously, he was a teammate that turned into a coach but he's a friend. He's a friend for life. Talked to him earlier in the year. Wished him luck, but obviously we've both had our own things and our hands full. It will be great when I see him at some point come Monday."  

Prescott feels like his friendship with Moore will last long after both are done with the game of football.

"I'm grateful to create relationships that are going to last long after this game with Kellen and Nuss [Chargers quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, who also served as the Cowboys quarterbacks coach from 2020-2022] and everything that they brought to not only myself, this organization, this team and the success that we had." 

CeeDee Lamb
DAL • WR • #88
REC YDs358
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Moore also helped the Cowboys' top wide receiver, CeeDee Lamb, blossom during the first three seasons of his four-year NFL career. The 17th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had his best season in 2022, breaking out for career-highs in catches (107), receiving yards (1,359) and receiving touchdowns (nine). A critical component of that campaign was Moore having him line up in the slot on 52.7% of his snaps according to Pro Football Focus, a massive uptick on the 36% rate in 2021. Lamb's 867 receiving yards out of the slot led the NFL in 2022 while his 61 catches out of the slot ranked second in the league only behind Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin's 67. 

"Absolutely, being comfortable in the slot," Lamb said Friday when asked about Moore helping grow his game. "He did a great job of moving me around at the 2, the 3 and then also my second year I was on the outside. So, he got me comfortable with each position. And I would say the slot is by far the hardest position to learn. So, he helped me throughout that process. Kellen's a great OC, as you can see what he's doing with those guys over there. Love to see it. And happy to see him back doing what he does best."  

Both the Cowboys and Moore will be looking to put their best forward in the unspoken battle to declare a winner in their separation on Monday night.