There have been several internal changes to the coaching staff in Dallas since their season ended. After another postseason letdown, a hefty amount of blame was placed squarely on the offense—and rightfully so. The blame was perhaps a predictive precursor to the recent departures. In typical headline-stealing fashion, the Dallas Cowboys announced that Kellen Moore would not be returning as offensive coordinator right as the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship game.
The #Cowboys and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have mutually agreed to part ways, per sources.
Moore is a bright young offensive mind and will have options. But Dallas felt change was needed after a disappointing finish, and now is looking for a new OC. pic.twitter.com/rRPwCDkjhF
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 29, 2023
This change comes as a surprise for some, as Moore helped lead a very potent offense during his tenure. However, the offensive disappointments during the postseason and repeated lapses in consistent production have made it a necessary split. In his stead, Brian Schottenheimer will step in as the new offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys while Mike McCarthy is expected to take over play-calling duties on game days. Many assistant coaches departed along with Moore, signaling a complete shift on the offensive side of the ball.
Dallas Cowboys Begin Offseason Work at the Coordinator Position
Even more surprising was the coordinator’s departure that did not happen. It was considered a forgone conclusion that Dan Quinn would depart Dallas and take a head coaching position elsewhere. After numerous interviews, Quinn unexpectedly—and thankfully—decided to stay with the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive coordinator.
These developments have been part of extensive coaching changes and continuities happening in Dallas over the past few weeks. McCarthy and the front office have already demonstrated their willingness to make certain staff changes when necessary. Mike Nolan was ousted after just one terrible season as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2020. His replacement (Quinn) signaled a momentous shift on that side of the ball. Offensively, Dallas has already boasted a top unit over the past few seasons in terms of yards and points. Still, there were consistent issues with execution and erratic showings that seemed to appear at the worst times. This change addresses the need to stabilize consistency and further play to the strengths of the franchise quarterback.
Needing “Moore” Than Just Points
Moore served as the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys for four seasons. Of those four seasons, three ended with a top-6 offense. Last season, the Cowboys had the best offense in the league in yards and points per game (31.2). Even with Prescott missing time this season, the Cowboys were top 10 in yards and top 5 in points per game (27.5). However, there were times during both seasons when the offense seemed out of sorts for being so high caliber. Slow starts and sputtering performances seemed to plague the offense at the most inopportune times—particularly the postseason.
Some of this inconsistency seemed to stem from a back-and-forth between concepts not being properly executed by players, and concepts which were too easily identified by opposing defenses. After the opening season loss to Tampa Bay, Devin White discussed how their defense already knew much of what Dallas was going to do heading into the game.
Buccaneers LB Devin White detailed how Tampa Bay was able to have success against the Dallas Cowboys offense on Sunday night based on what they learned against them in last year's season opener.
(via @Buccaneers) https://t.co/njOKlTDUGx pic.twitter.com/j3xPGmv4Pn
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 13, 2022
But even when the offense was humming, there were often miscommunications that led to costly turnovers. Lapses in execution contributed to many of the slow starts and turnovers that followed Dak and the offense over the season. Blame can be placed in many directions, but two things are clear: the head coach and quarterback aren’t going anywhere. If change is necessary—and it is—the split for the Dallas Cowboys had to happen at coordinator. As expected, Moore wasn’t on the market long as he quickly joined the Los Angeles Chargers as the new OC.
There are also numerous assistant coaches who will not be back for the 2023 season. Assistant head coach Rob Davis and defensive assistant George Edwards are two big names not returning as both had major roles within the staff. Positional coaches Skip Peete (running backs), Doug Nussmeier (quarterbacks), and Joe Philbin (offensive line) will not return either. The implications for the likes of Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and others will be heavily reliant on who steps in to fill these roles. The Cowboys will look to fill these roles in the coming weeks heading into free agency and the draft.
Brian Schottenheimer: The Dallas Cowboys Next Offensive Coordinator
Schottenheimer was hired as an “offensive consultant” before the 2022 season and was immediately pegged as a frontrunner to take over once Moore’s departure was announced. He has been a coach at the NFL level in some capacity for the past 22 years. Most recently, Schottenheimer served as a passing game coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2021) and offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons (2018-20).
The need for an offensive change was felt by many, but Schottenheimer’s promotion has come with some trepidation. While he does boast a wealth of experience and a coaching lineage, many have pointed out some underwhelming offensive performances under his direction. One well-known criticism of his offensive philosophy can be found in the infamous “Let Russ Cook” campaign in Seattle (circa 2019) which led to his unceremonious departure.
Easing that concern is the news that Coach McCarthy will be calling the plays. He did this for most of his time in Green Bay as well. McCarthy brings a west coast offensive philosophy to his play calling which could help Dak Prescott in several ways. Prescott will likely be making quick reads and decisions while relying on the YAC ability of pass catchers. It could be a change that improves the efficiency and stability of the offense. Surrounding Dak with weapons and making his job behind center easy as possible should be the offensive staff’s number one priority. The hope is that McCarthy’s play-calling and Schottenheimer’s familiarity will help to achieve better results, especially late in the season. Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys will only be changing the coordinator on one side of the ball this offseason, and it’s not the one most predicted it would be.
Dan Quinn Loves His Guys
The Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands for at least one more season with Quinn returning as defensive coordinator. Even before the season ended, it was known that Quinn was on a short list of head coaching candidates. Holding interviews with teams like the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts appeared to signal his departure as an inevitability.
But Quinn loves his guys, and they love him. He has built something quite remarkable since joining the Cowboys, turning one of the league’s worst units around almost immediately. The defense has led the league in turnovers for two straight years. He’s brought in difference-makers like Jayron Kearse and helped in drafting talents like DaRon Bland and Sam Williams. His unlocking of Micah Parsons’ potential is something that should be heralded as nothing short of genius. It’s why he has been on so many team radars for two years running. McCarthy’s genuine gratitude toward the news of his staying says it all.
Mike McCarthy on Dan Quinn coming back as Cowboys DC for another season: “We’re all extremely excited to have Dan back. This is big for us. It gives us continuity. Frankly, on a personal note, I can’t tell you how thankful I am.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 26, 2023
There is plenty of work to be done on the defensive side of the ball, as players are acquired and depart like every offseason. Mercifully for the Dallas Cowboys, their coordinator position couldn’t be in a better spot with regard to the defense. Time will tell if the offense will be able to say the same.
The March to Next Season Begins
The Dallas Cowboys already have their eyes locked toward the 2023 season with these recent coordinator and coaching changes. Free agency is just around the corner, and the draft will be quick on its heels. It will be interesting to see how the front office in Dallas approaches the talent acquisition phase this offseason. The Cowboys have many holes to fill in the coming months on both the roster and staff.
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