The moment Mike McCarthy was hired to be the Dallas Cowboys head coach back in January, the attention quickly turned to the makeup of his staff. In particular, would he retain any of the coaches from the previous regime? Of specific concern were the coaches on the offensive side of the football; Marc Colombo, Jon Kitna, Gary Brown, and Kellen Moore. Moore and Kitna were at the forefront of minds after the success they had together in helping Quarterback Dak Prescott take another step forward in his development.
After the announcement was made that Kellen Moore would stay on as the offensive coordinator, there was still some question as to what that would mean. Who would design and call the offense? Whose system would it be? It took a while to get those answers but eventually, it was decided that for continuity's sake, Kellen Moore would stay the play-caller under Mike McCarthy and much of the system from 2019 would stay in place. Obviously, McCarthy would have some influence on the philosophy and language of the system, but it would mostly be Moore driving the bus for the offense.
Yesterday, speaking to the NFL Network, McCarthy talked more about the decision to cede the play-calling to Kellen Moore.
Here is Mike McCarthy talking about how he is handling giving up offensive play-calling duties to Kellen Moore from his Wednesday appearance on @nflnetwork.
Everything about this answer is amazing. pic.twitter.com/dQENcbxDCG
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 19, 2020
Mike McCarthy has made his career by being an offensive-minded coach in the NFL. He's had a lot of success as a play-caller. So it did come as a surprise when he decided to hand over those duties to Kellen Moore. However, it didn't come without meeting with Moore.
Yesterday, Charles Robinson, NFL Reporter for Yahoo! Sports stated that the decision was made for McCarthy by the Dallas Cowboys front office. He even went so far as to use the term, “dictated.” While it's possible that Jerry and Stephen Jones made keeping Kellen Moore on the staff as part of the deal to be the next Dallas Cowboys head coach, deciding who called the plays was a Mike McCarthy decision. Robinson obviously has a lot of contacts in the NFL, however, this decision never really felt that way.
It's likely that during the interview process and after the hiring that Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones made some suggestions as to the direction of the football team and the coaching staff and Kellen Moore was likely a “must-have.” However, it took 10 days for the Cowboys to reveal what the plans were with Kellen Moore and the offensive play-calling. To me, that says Mike McCarthy wanted to get to know Kellen Moore and talk offense with him before deciding who would be the offensive designer and play-caller. This head coach values relationships. That's why a lot of the guys that have joined the Cowboys staff are guys that he's coached with in the past or former players. The only way you can build relationships, and more importantly trust, is to spend time together.
NFL coaches with a resume for success don't generally do things they don't want to do. They're control freaks by nature. However, Mike McCarthy's shown a willingness to evolve and look internally to improve his system and process as a head coach in the NFL. He's been refreshingly forthright this offseason about how he coaches and what he wants to see out of his players. In his interview with the NFL Network, McCarthy expressed that his job was to do what is best for the football team. That's the job for any head coach and if Mike McCarthy felt it was best for the Dallas Cowboys for Mike McCarthy to call the plays and design the offense, that's what he would have done. And with a Super Bowl ring in his trophy case, the Cowboys wouldn't have been able to convince him otherwise.
In Kellen Moore's first season as an offensive coordinator, the Dallas Cowboys' offense took off. They weren't consistent at times and often took a bit to get going, but those are things they can improve upon with improved scripting and play-sequencing. Kellen Moore under the direction of an offensive coordinator that's had the level of success that McCarthy has should help take Moore's go to another level.
Since coming into the NFL, people have raved about Kellen Moore's mind for football. It was only a matter of time before he became a coach in the NFL and people aren't surprised by his rapid ascendance and success. Allowing him to continue calling the plays and building off of what they did in 2019 was absolutely the best thing for the football team. Recognizing that and going with it shows a humility that you rarely see from NFL head coaches.
Mike McCarthy has been a breath of fresh air in his short time with the Dallas Cowboys. His leadership and willingness to be open and honest have been a welcomed change from the previous regime which was reluctant to talk about anything with much substance.
Though keeping Kellen Moore on to call plays was “the best decision for this football team,” it's become obvious that Mike McCarthy has been the best decision for this football team.