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Kellen Moore, Mike McCarthy, Jerry Jones — making the best of a bad situation

On Tuesday, as a guest on The Dan Patrick Show, Albert Breer revealed that things “weren't great” between the Cowboys' former and .

When asked if Kellen Moore was fired by the , Breer replied, “I heard things weren't great between [Kellen Moore] and Mike McCarthy at the end.” 

The journalist went on to explain, “What I do know is that that arrangement, that I think had worked okay but had its ups and downs over three years, had sort of run its course.” 

According to Breer, the fact that Kellen Moore had the option to go to another team created the opportunity for a win-win situation for the Dallas Cowboys and Kellen Moore. The Dallas Cowboys could part ways with Moore, and he could still continue his career as an offensive coordinator. Technically, no one lost. 


For those who watched Mike McCarthy's final press conference of the season, news of a conflict between he and Moore may not have come as much of a shock.

There were two topics in particular on which Mike McCarthy was resistant to speaking in detail: Kellen Moore and

McCarthy on Dak Prescott

The first time McCarthy was asked about Dak Prescott, the question was about getting rid of turnovers and playing at a higher level.

McCarthy was complimentary of the . He said that according to one of their most important areas of emphasis (games with a 70% completion rate), Prescott had shown improvement between the and the

The second time Dak was mentioned, McCarthy was asked how he would assess Dak's performance and help him get over the “proverbial playoff hump.”

McCarthy's initial response centered around what he thought should be part of an assessment, not his actual assessment of Prescott. He included, “Statistically, I think [Dak] has done some great things.”

The head coach did not get any more specific than that. 

McCarthy's follow-up addressed the roster as a whole. He even talked about player improvements he expected to see.

The optimism was appreciated, but ultimately, he did not directly address the question. 


When Mike McCarthy was asked if Kellen Moore would be returning as his offensive coordinator, he said that he had only spoken to Moore briefly and that his evaluation process was ongoing. Short answer. No compliments. No mention of areas of high performance. 

When asked for a more direct response about Kellen Moore by another media member a few minutes later, McCarthy became a bit testy.

“I really don't want to play this game today. It's been a long couple of days,” McCarthy replied.

Once again, he gave a very short answer. There were no compliments of Kellen Moore. He did not mention the future of the team or how he'd like to evaluate Moore the way he did with Dak. 

The differences in tone when speaking of the two men suggested a contrast between McCarthy's perceptions of the two of them. Reading into those statements led to the conclusion that there were issues between McCarthy and Moore.

“This is an opportunity.” — Jerry Jones

After a brief hiatus from his usual media appearances, Jerry Jones stepped back in front of the mics and cameras on Wednesday. Among several other things, he discussed the departure of Kellen Moore. 

Jones spoke much more positively about Moore than McCarthy did. He was appreciative of Kellen Moore. “He's done outstanding,” Jones said.

Without providing details on which parts of Moore's performance as an offensive coordinator were “outstanding,” he transitioned to what he expected for the Cowboys with Moore being gone.

“This is an opportunity, though,” Jones said, “for Mike and us to use other skill sets that we have, other assets we have, and Mike's background, his running offensive, calling plays.” He slowed down the pace of his speech a bit as though he was making sure to choose the right words. 

Jones continued, “It's the kind of thing that had I worked this out with Mike coming in, I wouldn't have been as assured as I feel now, because he knows our personnel even more so. He knows what they've been doing, and he can meld that into any nuances of his offensive that he wants to. I love what's happening.”

“It's onward and upward.” — Jerry Jones

Despite the excellent job Kellen Moore did, believes that having McCarthy call plays and Moore completely out of the building is an improvement for the Dallas Cowboys. 

One journalist even asked directly if the change at offensive coordinator was made to get Dak Prescott out of his “comfort zone.”

Jones instead referred to this as an opportunity for Dak to “expand.” 

The Cowboys owner and went on to explain that the Cowboys are taking advantage of their situation with two head coaches (Mike McCarthy and ). He said they are maximizing their capabilities, and considering recent changes, parting ways with Moore was necessary in order for that to happen.  

Despite the implications of his statements, Jerry Jones made it clear that this move was not about Kellen Moore's perceived shortcomings.

“It's not at all about what Kellen isn't or wasn't,” Jones explained, “It's not at all about that. For Kellen, it's onward and upward. For us, it's onward and upward.”

“It works for both sides.” — Kellen Moore

Kellen Moore also spoke to the press on Wednesday. He answered questions about his departure from Dallas and his new role as the offensive coordinator for the

Moore did not say much about his time in Dallas or how the agreement to part ways became a mutual one.

He said he “felt like he was in that space.” The “space” he referred to seems to be the space in one's career where with a year left on your contract and an that is performing better statistically year over year, you decide it's time to leave. 

Like Jerry Jones, Moore is looking toward the future. “I'm just really excited to get to work with them,” Moore said of several members of the Chargers' personnel.

Moore also touched on how quickly was able to find a role with the Chargers after becoming available.

He said he'd established a relationship with Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley during the Cowboys' joint practices with the Chargers during . They stayed in contact since then, and that relationship allowed the process to move pretty fast. 

Whose fault is it anyway? 

Throughout the past couple of seasons, there have been discussions among about who is calling what between Mike McCarthy, Kellen Moore, and Dak Prescott. Some even suggested that might have a hand in determining what the team does offensively.

Since Moore's departure, fans have been asking — was Kellen holding Dak back or was it vice versa?

It makes for an interesting debate. That information, however, is not truly pertinent.

It should be noted that after Moore's departure, Mike McCarthy released a statement in which he expressed appreciation for the former offensive coordinator's impact on the offense. 

Neither McCarthy, Kellen Moore, nor Jerry Jones is willing to point fingers directly. And honestly, that's totally fine. 


It does not matter who fans believe is at fault. It does not matter who was holding who back if anyone. Those things are irrelevant at this point. 

Kellen Moore needs to grow.

Many of the coaches who recently left the Cowboys had some sort of experience before joining the organization. Moore, however, never coached on the college level or for any other professional team.

It's not an insult to say he needs to develop more as an offensive coordinator and as a coach. Anyone who knows anything about professional development or skill development understands that this is the case regardless of statistical performance. 

Dak Prescott also needs to grow.

If nothing else, those flashes of greatness and impressive performances need to be more frequent and consistent in order for him to reach the next level athletically and professionally. 

Is it true and accurate that McCarthy and Moore weren't getting along? That seems likely.

Is it also true that this situation was managed in such a way that everyone wins? That also seems likely. 

may debate whether or not this was a good move for years to come, as they've done regarding the replacement of with Dak Prescott. Only time will tell if everyone achieves their desired results from this.

Right now, however, despite whether or not fans like the move or the way it happened, it seems to be a good thing for all parties involved. 

Jazz Monet
Jazz Monet
Sports culture analyst. Sports competition enthusiast. Host of Bitches Love Sports podcast. Personal trainer. Roller derby athlete and trainer.

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