Cowboys OC Kellen Moore is out as head coach Mike McCarthy will take over play-calling in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys had a top-five scoring offense in 2022. The unit averaged 27.5 points per game — the fourth-most in the NFL — but someone on the offensive side of the ball had to take responsibility for the team’s last playoff loss, a loss 19-12 in the divisional round by the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers. Quarterback Dak Prescott, who leads the NFL with 15 interceptions despite missing five games with a right thumb injury, probably didn’t make owner and general manager Jerry Jones too happy either. Prescott became the first player in NFL history to lead or participate in NFL picks despite missing five or more games.

That someone turns out to be Kellen Moore, the team’s offensive coordinator for the past four seasons since 2019. The 33-year-old is now out of a job as the two sides mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Sunday. Dallas has averaged 27.7 points per game in Moore’s four seasons on offense, the second most in the NFL since 2019 behind only the Chiefs’ 28.8 points per game.

“After continuing our end-of-season review process and having further discussion, Kellen and the Cowboys have reached a mutual decision to part ways. I want to thank Kellen for his deep commitment, hard work and dedication that have been a major part of his time with the Cowboys,” head coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “The production of our offense and his mentorship of Dak have been at the center of the impact of Kellen and we are grateful for his tenure and leadership. We wish Kellen and his wife, Julie, and their family the best as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.”

The team announced that quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier also will not return.

“We also wish Doug and his wife Kristy and their family the best,” McCarthy said. “Doug is the consummate professional and brought a level of football acumen, enthusiasm and focus to the job every day that helped everyone he worked with during his time here with the Cowboys perform at a higher level.”

Moore could follow in the footsteps of another fired offensive coordinator this offseason, Mike Lafleur. Lafleur, the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator in 2021 and 2022 who was fired early after the Jets missed the playoffs, quickly found his feet as the Los Angeles Rams’ new offensive coordinator. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and on Los Angeles Chargers both have interest in Moore filling their open offensive coordinator roles. The Chargers have reportedly already asked to speak with Moore prior to his firing.

Prescott set a franchise single-season record with 37 passing touchdowns in the 2021 season, bettering Tony Romo’s record of 36 set in 2009, a year after the former fourth-round pick broke his ankle. That led to the Cowboys’ passing, which finished second in the NFL’s 2021 Comeback Player of the Year voting, behind only Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who led the Bengals to the AFC North division title after tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee in 2020. Moore also benefited from Prescott’s rebound, reaching the final stages of the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching search before Miami went with 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel instead.

Head coach Mike McCarthy will reportedly return to his roots as an offensive lineman, something he did in six seasons as offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints (2000-2004) and San Francisco 49ers (2005), as well as more the majority of his 13 seasons as head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 2006-2018. He briefly relinquished his Green Bay duties after the team’s 2014 NFC Championship Game collapse against the Seattle Seahawks before taking over again his duties by then-associate head coach Tom Clements in Week 14 of the 2015 season. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV to end the 2010 season with McCarthy calling plays, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers won two of his four NFL MVPs with McCarthy in 2011 and 2014 Rodgers set the all-time record for passer rating in a single season during his first MVP season with McCarthy in 2011 when he threw 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

The 2023 season will be McCarthy’s first as an offensive lineman for the Cowboys since Moore was one of the few assistants retained by Jason Garrett’s coaching staff.

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