Dallas Cowboys

From player mode to coach mode: Kellen Moore models transition after Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (left) will call plays in 2019, per coach Jason Garrett.
Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (left) will call plays in 2019, per coach Jason Garrett. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

When Kellen Moore thinks back to two years ago, he shakes his head in disbelief.

In 2016, Moore was on the injured reserve list and missed the entire season as rookie Dak Prescott assumed control of the offense away from an injured Tony Romo.

“A lot has changed,” said Moore, after the Dallas Cowboys’ Sunday morning walk through. “We figured out Dak Prescott is pretty dang good so at least something good came out of it I guess. Things happen and we’re excited where we are.”

For Moore, that’s a huge change. He retired as a player in the off-season and quickly transitioned into the Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on switching from player mode to coach mode

He went from a teammate to a coach in short order just like his head coach Jason Garrett.

“That’s part of what was fortunate about this situation. You’ve got [offensive coordinator] Scott [Linehan], you’ve got Coach Garrett,” said Moore, who spent five of his six seasons as a player under Linehan. Tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier also coached QBs with the Rams.

“So I’m very fortunate to have those guys because there are going to be little things I need to ask questions about and those guys are awesome resources.”

Especially Linehan.

“I’m very familiar with him, and kind of understand his way of thinking, his philosophy,” Moore said. “I can speak his language and be a connection to him when he’s not in that room, if he’s off with the wide receivers. And I think he’s comfortable with that.”

Staying in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was a big draw, Moore said, and made the transition into coaching even easier. His wife and kids love living there.

“There’s nothing like playing, I’d love to play, but I wasn’t planning on anything like this opening up and it was hard to turn down,” he said. “Our family loves Dallas. Sometimes we forget about the wife and the kiddos and they love it there.”

Garrett moved from playing to coaching with the Miami Dolphins under coach Nick Saban in 2005. Saban emphasized the hours and demands of the job.

“When you walk into the meeting room, you’re in charge of the meeting now. When you walk into the unit room, you’re in charge of the whole unit,” Garrett said.

“Oftentimes as players, we sit back and we have all the answers but someone else is running the show. When you click into being a coach, you have to have the answers from A to Z. And you have to be really thorough on how you teach all different guys in the room and all different guys on the field.”

Garrett said the challenge for Moore is to get himself out of “player mode and into coach mode.”

“I do think just how he handled himself as a player and how detailed he was, how interested he was in scheme and technique and how it all fit together is really benefiting him early on,” Garrett said. “He communicates well with the quarterbacks. He’s learning every day, how to conduct meetings, how to handle himself on the field. But he really embraces it, and I think the quarterbacks are getting better.”

Garrett said being in “player mode” as a coach “every so often is a good thing for you when you’re a coach.”

“To kind of remember what it was like to be a player,” he said. “but you have to make that shift.”

Moore, of course, has a strong relationship with Prescott, after helping him through that rookie season in ‘16.

“At this point now he’s running the show. It’s his offense. All the details, the ins and outs, the adjustments, he’s on top of all of that,” Moore said. “Being familiar with the kinds of things he’s been doing that last couple of years and what the offense asks of him. So you can kind of relate to a number of those things and draw on past experience as player.”

The best part about being a coach?

“My body feels good right now it’s going to keep feeling good,” Moore said, before adding, “The lower back locks up when you’re stand out here for a while.”

I was able to help a little bit in the room and do different things so it was really good and was kind of the opener to this world.

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