Cowboys' Kellen Moore on fusing his scheme with Mike McCarthy's plan: 'We've barely touched the surface'

The changes within the Dallas Cowboys coaching ranks have been sweeping, to a degree that would make the nearest custodian jealous. With the decision to part ways with longtime head coach Jason Garrett -- now taking up residence as offensive coordinator for the rival New York Giants -- and to bring in Mike McCarthy, there was minuscule holdover in the ranks as the latter laid the foundation for his new regime in North Texas.

Kellen Moore is one of the chosen few who remains on staff, ready to take on his second season as offensive coordinator for the Cowboys, and as a coordinator, period. The 31-year-old turned down an offer to become OC at the University of Washington in 2020 to stay put for what he calls an "awesome opportunity" in Dallas, driven by his excitement for what McCarthy and the new coaching pieces he's bringing into the fold can do for the offense. Moore will continue to call plays going forward, and while he is grateful to McCarthy for not stripping him of that duty, he also admits it was never a point of discussion.

That said, he's thankful McCarthy believes in him so vehemently. 

"Certainly it's very appreciated," Moore told the media. "And certainly I know that at the end of the day this thing will be collaborative, and we'll work through it together and we'll find the best situation and the best outcome out of it."

In the end, he simply sees where the Cowboys are headed, and doesn't want to walk away from it. After all, despite some obvious growing pains here and there, Moore is the reason the offense went from 11th-worst in 2018 to No. 1 in 2019 -- flipping the switch in only one season and with no previous experience as a coordinator. For perspective, Moore went from entering training camp to compete with Dak Prescott for the role of backing up Tony Romo, to retiring and being named the team's quarterbacks coach, to being promoted to offensive coordinator and mostly excelling in that role all in the span of just four years.

That's an arc that would make Joan jealous (google it).

With an experienced and proven offensive mind in McCarthy overseeing things going forward, the two have already began a mind-meld that will inject more of a West Coast offense into the Cowboys scheme, and Moore is raring to go.  

"We've barely touched the surface," Moore said. "We're in January still and so we're starting to recognize some things, touching on, OK, where was 2019 and then where is a lot of the things that Mike is familiar with. And then let's build this thing into the 2020 offense. ...Obviously we've got the ability to mold it however we want. 

"That's the fun part of it. We don't need to rush into that -- take advantage of all the different coaches that are in our staff, guys coming from a lot of different backgrounds, and let's try and use all that. I think we've got to take our time, as much time as we have to go through that process and make sure everything connects and we have a why to everything."

One of the biggest successes of Moore's offense was establishing a prolific passing attack that saw Prescott put up career numbers across the board in 2019, but at times it veered too far left, abandoning running back Ezekiel Elliott in games when he shouldn't have been. With those lessons now learned and McCarthy in the building to teach him many more, Year 2 should be an intriguing one for Moore and the Cowboys offense. A reworked playbook that retains Moore's language -- which is key in helping Prescott transition -- combines with the decision to keep Doug Nussmeier in the building, albeit having moved him from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach.

There will be areas of the offense that look the same, but others that are wildly different from years past under Garrett, and it all begins by being balanced, but not predictably so as new plays, sets and pre-snap motions are introduced.

"You want to attack people different ways, the importance of making sure the run game and the actions that go off of it, that those all complement and they're tied together," Moore said. "I think that's the biggest thing."

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