While the Dallas Cowboys had the No. 1 offense, coordinator Kellen Moore focused on what went wrong – Dallas Cowboys Blog
INDIANAPOLIS — The Dallas Cowboys’ season ended six weeks ago, but how it ended remains fresh.
Dak Prescott rushes for 17 yards as time is running out. Players scramble to get into position so the quarterback can hit the ball for one last play. The umpire is slow to place the ball. The clock is ticking. The San Francisco 49ers beat Dallas 23-17 in the wildcard round.
Coach Mike McCarthy answered countless questions about the whys and wherefores of this play, but offensive coordinator Kellen Moore did not. Until this week at the NFL combine.
“We were in the Hail Mary range. We had used the sideline and it felt like at that point they had hit a timeout and we just sort of discussed things,” Moore said during a 30-minute session. with ESPN. “We said, ‘Hey, we have a chance to potentially go inbounds, and if we can get the ball inside 30, for us that changes. We can organize a real play instead of a Hail Mary play.
“We felt like if we got the yards, obviously we felt comfortable. We trained it that way. I think we’ve had three examples of that in the NFL. Obviously, there is a component to touch the ball [by an official]. ‘Blessed’, I believe they call it. The operation just didn’t go smoothly from that perspective. We either need to take that into account or alert them to the type of game we’re having so it can go a little smoother.
Fair or not, this game ended up defining the season and, in some ways, Moore.
Little is said about Prescott’s 37 touchdown passes, a franchise record. No one wants to notice that the Cowboys led the league in yards (6,919) and points per game (31.2). Return Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 1,000 yards despite playing most of the year with a partially torn ligament. Receiver CeeDee Lamb was added to the Pro Bowl in his second year. Dalton Schultz became just the second tight end in franchise history, joining Jason Witten, to catch at least 70 passes for 800 yards. The Cowboys finished the regular season with touchdowns in their last 13 red-zone drives.
“It’s abrupt for everyone. Everyone ends up in a bad mood except for a team that wins the Super Bowl,” Moore said. “We wanted to go all the way. That’s everyone’s goal and aspirations, but that’s how it works. So you have to deal with it. It’s not going to feel good for a while. You have to work through this and move past it.
After a series of meetings, reviews and discussions, this process is complete and the combine serves as the start of the 2022 season.
Moore, entering his fourth season as a playcaller, isn’t obsessed with what went well for the Cowboys in 2021. He’s obsessed with what didn’t go well, especially in the second half of the season. The numbers are backed up by three explosive offensive games against the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles.
When it counted in key games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals, the offense exploded.
“I think if it was a primary thing, then it would be easy to fix,” Moore said. “It’s just small things. We will examine it from a schematic point of view. We will look at it from a technical, fundamental, personal point of view and we face different teams [in 2022] with different structures that we may have played with. There will always be things from every game, from every experience that you learn from. … We were 32nd on penalties. We have hundreds of meters of penalties. We have to fix that.
McCarthy said he would be more involved in the offense in 2022. In McCarthy’s freshman year, he didn’t want to overburden Moore or micromanage. Last season, he wanted to make sure the defense lived up to the changes new coordinator Dan Quinn was bringing.
“You have to be where you need to be,” McCarthy said. “I know that’s been my journey from Year 1 to Year 2 and now Year 3. So, yeah, definitely the things that we do on offense, you go back, you watch. Year 1, the goal is to keep as much language and as many fundamental concepts with Dak as we thought we could move forward, but above all to have a philosophy, a structure that I have obviously been used to for almost 30 years period here … But I can say this, in the future, that’s where I’m going to be.
Executive Vice President Stephen Jones says he thinks people underestimated McCarthy’s involvement anyway. Moore said he and McCarthy communicate a lot during the week so they are prepared for situations that arise in games.
“He’s part of the offense,” Moore said. “As a head coach, you have a lot of other obligations. … In the season it gets busy for him, but he’s going to step in with the attack and we’re going to discuss things. During the offseason, especially the last few weeks, these are great opportunities for us to kind of slow down. There aren’t many distractions. You can get back to football. »
There was a possibility that Moore would not return to the Cowboys in 2022. He interviewed for a number of head coaching vacancies and was a finalist for the Miami Dolphins job.
There’s a certain natural disappointment in not getting the job, but falling back isn’t a bad option.
“On a personal level, I love Dallas,” Moore said. “It will be my eighth year between a player and a manager here. It’s a special place. It’s probably not just a daily job like some people have done in this league. This is different. … If the opportunity presents itself, it’s great, and I think things are working out and we’re ready to go, let’s do it. But I love Dallas.
He returns to an offense with Prescott, Elliott, Lamb, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and Tony Pollard, but there are questions regarding the future of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Schultz.
Moore on Prescott: “He hasn’t had a full offseason since 2019. I think that’s really exciting. Full offseason, full OTAs, run like a normal guy.
On Elliott: “I think Zeke is still a great player.”
On Lamb: “I love it. He is special.
On Pollard: “I love giving him opportunities and I think you’re always looking at how we can find more opportunities for him.”
Moore understands the chatter about his job, but growing up as a coaching kid, having played at a high level and now coaching for the Cowboys, he learned to ignore it. The 2021 season is over; 2022 is a fresh start.
“You can’t ride the roller coaster,” Moore said. “If you go roller coasting, you’re going to get sick and dizzy. That’s how it goes.