Dallas Cowboys

Kellen Moore is running the offense at Pro Bowl but Cowboys remain mum on coordinator

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper is already excited for 2019, wants to be best WR in the NFL

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper is happy to be at the Pro Bowl and is already excited for 2019, wants to be best WR in the NFL
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Cowboys WR Amari Cooper is happy to be at the Pro Bowl and is already excited for 2019, wants to be best WR in the NFL

At this point, it seems everyone has a handle on the direction the Dallas Cowboys are heading with their offensive coaching staff following the firing of coordinator Scott Linehan.

Kellen Moore is expected to be promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator and former backup quarterback Jon Kitna has been added to the staff as his likely replacement.

Coach Jason Garrett may takeover play-calling in what is the final year of his contract or give Moore full control of the offense.

The Cowboys just aren’t ready to say it yet.

Maybe things will get finalized this week as owner Jerry Jones arrives in Orlando Wednesday night from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

But no one was offering anything definitive on the first day of Pro Bowl practice at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports where Garrett and his staff are coaching the NFC team.

Garrett declined to talk to media, saying he preferred to do it later in the week.

Kitna also declined to talk, saying “They brought me down just to hang out.”

Never mind the fact that Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have already said he has been added to the staff, though they have yet to determine the exact role.

And Moore, one of two known candidates for the offensive coordinator position in addition to tight end coach Doug Nussmeier, was similarly coy.

“I don’t know we’ll see,” Moore said when asked about his changing role. “We’re just kind of letting this thing play out. So I’ll just help in any way possible.”

Asked again if he was excited about the opportunity to be considered for a coordinator job just one season after retiring from football and being named quarterbacks coach, Moore stayed strong.

“Yeah, we’ll see how it plays out,” Moore said. “Yeah, obviously I love it down here. It’s a good group. Were heading in the right direction. We have to keep building on it.”

What’s also true is that it was Moore, not Nussmeier or Garrett, who was charged with installing the offense at the Pro Bowl for quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Mitch Trubisky of the Chicago Bears on Wednesday.

Still, Moore wouldn’t budge.

“Yeah, it’s been good. Fortunately for us, we’ve got Russell, Mitch, smart guys that can help facilitate everything,” Moore said.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott missed the first day of practice traveling and will be here on Thursday.

“He’s headed this way,” Moore said. “Him and Zeke are heading this way. I think they’ll be able to figure out this playbook pretty easily.

The real question is how can he help Prescott continue to develop?

Stephen Jones said the No. 1 priority in the next offensive coordinator is to have somebody who’s going to bring out the best in Prescott.

No one on the staff has spent more time with Prescott than Moore, considering they were backup quarterbacks together to start the 2016 season before he got injured and Prescott replaced an injured Tony Romo to fashion the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history. Moore also served as one of Prescott’s backups in 2017 and was his quarterbacks coach in 2018.

“I think there’s a lot of little things,” said Moore when asked how he can help Prescott take the next step. “There’s never anything that is going to drastically (change), to the common eye, and say, ‘holy cow what’s he doing now?’ It’s just fine-tuning thing and getting in details. At the end of the day, it’s his show and his offense and just continue to evolve with who our personnel is.”

Moore readily acknowledges that no one had more of an impact on his professional career than Linehan. He was the reason the Cowboys brought him here from Detroit. The two are very close and remain so.

But he said it would be wrong to suggest they have the same offensive philosophy.

“Certainly everyone has a different voice and certainly things evolve as it goes,” Moore said. “For us, it’ll be a collaborative effort, whoever it ends up being. I think things will continue to progress. We’re always open to different things and different approaches.”

He stayed coy until the end.

But there is no denying that Moore is on the brink of something he prepared for his entire life.

He is the son of a high school coach who dreamed about joining his father’s profession long before he starred at quarterback at Boise State and spent six seasons as a backup in the NFL.

So while he has only had the title one season, being a coach was always his destiny.

“I’ve been around football a little while,” Moore said. “Since I was a little kid. We were around high school ball. And then playing in college and the NFL for a little while. All of those different stops, you take bits and pieces from every stop and you learn from it. That evolves and it just creates who you are.

“I think it always, naturally, your dad is a high school coach, I think you’re heading that way. College is where it kind of confirmed. It confirmed to me it was the direction I wanted to go.”

And now he is here at the Pro Bowl, on the brink of becoming an offensive coordinator, even if no one wants to admit it yet.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.
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