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Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What will Kellen Moore’s Offense Look Like?

John Williams

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Can Kellen Moore Have a Kris Richard-like Coaching Impact With Cowboys? 1

Four more days till the Dallas Cowboys hold their first training camp practice and the work begins to build this team into a Super Bowl contender. It's been 23 years since the Dallas Cowboys won their last Super Bowl and Cowboys Nation has been restless for Lombardi number six for about 22 of those years. Is this the year that the Cowboys finally breakthrough? Over the next seven months, we'll find out.

If the Dallas Cowboys are contenders at the end of the season, the biggest reason will be that the offense has turned into an elite unit to match a defensive group that proved to be one of the best in the NFL in 2018.

And if the offense is a top 10 unit in 2019, the biggest reason will be Kellen Moore's ability as an offensive coordinator. The Cowboys have the talent to be one of the best offenses in the NFL like they were in 2016, they just need an offensive play-caller who can add a bit of unpredictability and intelligence to the offense in 2019.

With that let's dig into your questions for this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.

So much of what the Dallas Cowboys need to add to their offense has less to do with the plays that are called and more to do with when they call plays and how they deploy their personnel.

The Dallas Cowboys need to improve in the red zone. One way to do that is to scheme guys open using crossing route combinations and rub routes. The Dallas Cowboys have some really good route runners in Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, and Jason Witten. The Cowboys need to use those strengths.


The other thing the Dallas Cowboys need to do is to begin throwing more frequently on first down and in run formations to keep defenses off balance. Too many times in the last couple of years, opposing defenses knew what was coming based on the personnel groupings and formations they were deployed in. The Cowboys ran a lot on first downs and opposing defenses were looking run on those first down regardless of formation. If the Cowboys can come out and throw the ball effectively on first down it will open the offense up a lot more and keep defenses off-balance.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the offense heading into 2019 focuses on what kind of influence Kellen Moore is going to have on this group. I wrote about this in more detail earlier this offseason when I reviewed Jon Gruden's Quarterback Camp episode with Kellen Moore.

Here were the biggest themes that I picked up on during his interview.

  • Kellen Moore Wants to be "multiple." Meaning Moore wants to be able to run the same plays out of a variety of formations and personnel groupings. Whether he's running 10 personnel (1 RB, 4 WRs) or 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs), Moore wants to be able to run the same types of plays and route combinations. If the Cowboys are able to do this, it will keep the defense from being able to anticipate what the Cowboys are wanting to do on offense.
  • Kellen Moore wants to create anticipation in the offense through week-long preparation. We know that Dak Prescott puts in the work to be as good as he can be. Prescott's work ethic combined with the preparation led by Moore and Quarterback's Coach Jon Kitna should help Prescott improve his anticipation by seeing where to throw the ball before the play even starts.
  • Kellen Moore wants to use presnap motion to keep the offense off-balance and create confusion among the defense. Presnap motion forces the defense to adjust and communication during that adjustment could lead to miscommunication. For too much of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Dallas Cowboys were a little too predictable on offense, which was a complaint of some of the outgoing players when they left the Cowboys. Kellen Moore's offensive philosophy was learned under current Washington Huskies Head Coach and former Boise St. Head Coach Chris Petersen who's long been known for his offensive creativity and play calling.
  • Kellen Moore wants to get creative in the red zone through gadget plays. Boise St. was known for using gadget plays like the "Statue of Liberty" play they used in the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.

If Moore is truly able to increase the level of unpredictability of the Dallas Cowboys offense, it should help the passing game and the running game be able to take advantage of mismatches across the formation.

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Kellen Moore's football mind has been highly thought since coming out of college. With training camp, the preseason, and the regular season coming, we're finally going to get to see that big football brain at work. For the Dallas Cowboys to have success in 2019, they need the Kellen Moore mind to be as good as advertised.


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Game Notes

Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays

Jess Haynie

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Jason Garrett, Kellen Moore

There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.

Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.

But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.

Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.


Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.

Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.

With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.


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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.

I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.

Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.


The Bad

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.

It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.

The Ugly

Dalvin Cook

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook

Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.

The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!

What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?


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Game Notes

Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings

Matthew Lenix

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Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings

When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.

In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.

Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.


That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.

Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.

Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.


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