Cowboys moving on from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore
The Dallas Cowboys are moving on from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore after another season without a trip beyond the divisional round of the playoffs.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday night it was “a mutual decision to part ways.” Moore had a year remaining on his contract. Quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, whose contract was expiring, also won't return.
McCarthy called the plays for most of his 12-plus seasons as head coach in Green Bay and could return to that role with the Cowboys.
McCarthy said he kept Moore as the play-caller when he came to Dallas in 2020 because he wanted continuity for quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys had one of the NFL's highest-scoring offenses each of the past two seasons but were inconsistent, and it ended up costing them in the postseason both times.
Dak Prescott's two interceptions played big roles in a 19-12 divisional loss at San Francisco last weekend.
The 2021 season ended with a shaky showing from the offense in a 23-17 wild-card loss at home against the 49ers.
“The production of our offense and his mentorship of Dak were at the center of Kellen’s impact, and we are grateful for his tenure and leadership,” McCarthy said.
Dallas has a seven-game losing streak in the divisional round, the longest since the 1970 merger, and the Cowboys haven't reached an NFC championship game since the most recent of the franchise’s five Super Bowl titles 27 years ago.
Moore interviewed for the Carolina head coaching job this month before the Panthers hired Frank Reich.
McCarthy declined to say Moore would return in his final meeting of the season with reporters, saying he was being evaluated along with the rest of the coaches.
Less than an hour later, McCarthy said it was “big for us” that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had decided to return after interviewing for three head coaching vacancies.
Moore was promoted to offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett's final season in 2019, when Dallas missed the playoffs and Garrett's contract wasn't renewed.
McCarthy replaced Garrett and kept Moore in the play-calling role. McCarthy called plays for Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers with the Packers, winning the Super Bowl with Rodgers to finish the 2010 season.
After giving up the play-calling for a time in Green Bay, McCarthy returned to that role and said he would never give up the play-calling role again. He was fired in the middle of the second consecutive losing season in 2018.
McCarthy said he decided to keep the system the Cowboys had in place because he believed Prescott had the right leadership under Moore.
Dallas had one of the best offenses in the league this season after Prescott returned from a five-game absence because of a broken thumb.
Inconsistencies showed up again late in the season, with a poor showing in the regular-season finale against Washington before one of the best games of Prescott's career in a 31-14 wild-card victory at Tampa Bay.
Prescott threw an early interception against the 49ers to put Dallas in a 3-0 hole, and another pick late in the first half resulted in at least a six-point swing for San Francisco, which led 9-6 at the break.
Prescott led the NFL with a career-high 17 interceptions, playoffs included. He threw at least one in 14 of the 17 games he played.
Moore joined the coaching staff as quarterbacks coach immediately following the 2017 season, going from one of Prescott's backups to his position coach.
Long considered a bright offensive mind with a future in coaching, Moore spent six seasons as a player in the NFL, not even taking his first snap until late in his fourth year in 2015.
Moore was undrafted out of Boise State, where he was the winningest quarterback in FBS history with a 50-3 record. He was in the top 10 in all major passing categories when his career ended.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Schuyler Dixon, The Associated Press