Mac Engel

Don’t expect Kellen Moore to be the difference for the Dallas Cowboys

The biggest off-season change for the Dallas Cowboys is the team’s (Stephen Jones’?) decision to hand the offensive play-calling to a 29-year-old who has never done the job.

The team (Stephen Jones?) decided that following the divisional playoff loss to the L.A. Rams in January that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had to go. That his play-calling was dated, dull and dim.

In Linehan’s place is his favorite quarterback, Kellen Moore. Linehan loved Moore because he was the closest thing to an actual coach on the field. All coaches are drawn to Moore because he is smart, and sees it all.

Moore, whose ankle injury in training camp in 2016 created the opening for Dak Prescott to play as a rookie, has officially coached for all of one year. He was named the offensive coordinator after the team (Stephen Jones?) fired Linehan.

Moore may develop into a top offensive coordinator, but beware he is also a Linehan disciple. Linehan was the personal choice to be hired as this team’s offensive coordinator by Jason Garrett in January of 2014.

And Linehan brought Moore from Detroit to Dallas to be a quarterback, and then wanted him to be the quarterbacks coach over Wade Wilson last season.

To think that Moore will reinvent this Dallas Cowboys offense, or any NFL offense, or to deviate that far from Garrett, is asking a squirrel to become an elephant.

All Moore must do is help, and not get in the way, of a team whose “mission from God” is to reach the NFC title game for the first time since the 1995 season. His goal must be to successfully create the perception that he is not Scott Linehan, when in fact he is closer to that cut than most people (Stephen Jones?) desire.

“There is nothing broken here,” first-year Cowboys quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna said on Thursday after the team completed its third mini-camp day. “If it’s not broken, we’re really not fixing anything. We are just trying to find ways to do it a little bit better. You’re talking about a quarterback who has won 67 percent of his games as the starting quarterback in the NFL, and had a high rate of success.”

Kitna is not wrong. The Cowboys, with Linehan as offensive coordinator, won a lot of games.

When the Cowboys lost, 30-22, in the playoffs to the Rams, a culprit was a “dull” offense that did not take advantage of Dak’s ability to run, and make a play out of the pocket. This criticism ignores the fact that the defense could not stop the Rams, but the Cowboys offense was out-played by a Rams team that was a superior opponent.

Offensively, the Cowboys were statistically average in 2018; they ranked 22nd in the league in points and yards.

They (Stephen Jones?) had to change something.

The problem is to manage the expectations from this change, because the other people involved all share Linehan traits.

“People are making a big deal out of this and all that’s going to happen is we are going to hand the ball to 21 (running back Ezekiel Elliott), try to find ways to get the ball to 19 (receiver Amari Cooper) and trust 4 (Dak Prescott),” Kitna said. “That’s all we’re doing.”

It’s the same thing Linehan was trying to do.

The Cowboys may be slightly better at it with Moore rather than Linehan, but everyone watching (Stephen Jones) just can’t ask a squirrel to be an elephant.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram