Mike McCarthy’s adage of choice is fitting.
“The old theory of ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater,’” the 56-year-old Cowboys coach said Thursday in a sitdown with local beat writers. “I want to build off what’s been established.”
And thus, despite assembling a highly experienced and almost completely new staff of coaches to shepherd what the franchise considers a talented roster, McCarthy is retaining one of the babies of the Cowboys staff: 31-year-old offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
McCarthy, who has called plays for most of his career, even anticipates Moore handling that responsibility.
“I’m confident that Kellen can still be the play caller,” McCarthy said. “That’s the path we’re going down. We’re still working through that, but my goal is for him to be the play caller.”
The freedom further speaks to the belief McCarthy has expressed in Moore.
Jerry Jones on Cowboys OC Kellen Moore’s creativity:
“I’m not paying money for an experienced coach. What I’m paying for is the stuff you get when you get youth. … Imagination, enthusiasm, can-do, taking some risks. We need that since we sacrificed a little experience.” pic.twitter.com/s96c9adc7x
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) August 30, 2019
Of 13 coaching hires McCarthy confirmed, Moore is one of just two carryovers from Dallas’ 2019 staff. Moore is the only 2019 Cowboys coach to keep his position (tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier will coach quarterbacks). McCarthy sought that partnership.
“This is the first language change that I’ve had to go through since 1989,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been in the same terminology since my days at Pitt. But this will be good for me. And frankly, it’s not about me.
“So we want to keep the language the same.”
Moore will help there. He rose from Prescott’s backup quarterback in 2017 to Cowboys quarterbacks coach in 2018 and then Cowboys offensive coordinator in 2019. Dallas finished 8-8 despite ranking top 10 in both offense and defense. But, often, the Cowboys offense was firing.
No team had more yards per game (431.5) or per play (6.46) than the Cowboys in 2019. Their 27.1 points per game ranked sixth. For the first time in franchise history, the Cowboys boasted an offense with a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver. By season’s end, Michael Gallup joined Amari Cooper to make it two 1,000-yard receivers. Prescott threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.
“What Dak has established here in this current offense is very important to me as we put this offense together,” McCarthy said. “That’s why the opportunity for [Moore] to call plays is the focus, his relationship with the quarterback.”
Stephen Jones tells @dfwticket that Cowboys were “real, real, real close” to Dak Prescott contract extension before season.
“We’ve got to land the plane and get his deal done. That’s on Jerry and myself. He’s our future.”
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 10, 2020
Since his introductory press conference, McCarthy has spoken with Prescott. He said his quarterback was “energetic” and “headed out west.” Prescott works with 3DQB on biomechanics and techniques in the offseason. The Cowboys have not signed the 2016 fourth-round pick to an extension though McCarthy and Jerry Jones both emphasize Prescott is their franchise quarterback of the future. Jones even said McCarthy’s “appreciation of what Dak is as a player” helped seal the deal.
Now it’s time for the Cowboys coaching staff to determine how best to utilize Prescott and his teammates’ talents.
“I think between us,” McCarthy said, “we can take this offense forward another step.”
— USA TODAY SPORTS