The Dallas Cowboys’ worst kept secret is finally official.
Kellen Moore, called a young phenom genius by quarterback Dak Prescott, has been promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, the Cowboys announced on Thursday. He’s replacing Scott Linehan, who was fired on Jan. 18.
The team also announced that former backup quarterback Jon Kitna has been hired as the club’s quarterbacks coach.
Kitna joined the staff prior to last week’s Pro Bowl and Moore served as the offensive coordinator and play-caller during the week.
What is not clear is whether Moore will call plays or do it in concert with head coach Jason Garrett.
But owner Jerry Jones said on 105.3 FM on Thursday that they will lean on all the young coaches, including Moore, Kitna and offensive line coach Marc Colombo for their input and ideas in trying to bring some change and creativity to the offense.
“I want their ideas. I want their preference. I want them to yell, I want them to lay in front of the train,” Jones said. “I want them to do everything to get it implemented in what we’re doing offensively. I’ll assure that’ll be the way we handle it. It’ll be a collaborative effort.”
More so than anyone else, the speculation around the Cowboys has centered around Moore and what his role might be. It was strongly hinted that the young coach was the favorite to be the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator and play caller this coming season. He appeared to be handling that role last week at the Pro Bowl.
But Jones said that Moore will be the point-man for it all and most likely will be the one calling plays.
“Make no mistake about it: he is going to be a key guy in what play is run on that football field – and by key, probably have the ultimate responsibility,” Jones said.
Moore’s promotion was certainly met the approval of Prescott, the third-year quarterback who was admittedly behind his hiring as quarterbacks coach one year ago.
Prescott took over for an injured Moore as Tony Romo’s primary backup in training camp as a rookie in 2016 and then won the starting job when Romo went down in the second-to-last preseason game.
Moore served as his backup in 2017 but, more importantly, spent time in the quarterback room with him during both years.
Prescott expects a Cowboys offense that struggled to score points in 2018 and often bogged down in the red zone to be more creativity under Moore, who he called a “young phenom” in tune with the evolution of the game.
“From the time he was a player to the time now, the things he sits over there watching plays and he will draw a play up, saying this is a complement off of that,” Prescott said. “That was the main reason I pushed for him to be the quarterbacks coach in the first place cause I knew the intelligence he had in the game, how smart he is, how creative he can be. He is a phenom when it comes to the game. He is one of these young phenoms in seeing the game, knowing where the game was and where it’s taking this transition into this new style of play. He sees it and gets it.”
In his first season in the coaching ranks (2018), Moore helped Prescott establish career-bests in passing yards (3,885 - more than 200 greater than his club rookie record), attempts (526) and completions (356 - second in team history). Prescott, who was named to his second career Pro Bowl, helped lead Dallas to an NFC East Division crown, its second in three years.
Prescott is also excited to work with Kitna from a technical standpoint.
Kitna played in the NFL for 15 years, including his final three as a backup with the Cowboys from 2009-2011. He has coached high school football since his retirement, including 2015-2017 at Waxahachie.
He specializes in quarterback footwork.
“I’m excited for what I can learn, what he can teach me, knowing how serious he takes footwork and the things he prides his coaching and his game on,” Prescott said. “Knowing those are going to be a lot of things that will help me become the player I want to be.”