Should Kellen Moore or Mike McCarthy be calling plays for the Cowboys?

Cowboys, Kellen Moore, Mike McCarthy. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys, Kellen Moore, Mike McCarthy. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys are 5-2 and won four games without their starting quarterback this season. With that being the case, it’s easy to think everything is going well, but there is still one area where they could improve — their offensive efficiency.

Coming into their Week 7 game against the Detroit Lions, Dallas was just 27th in the NFL in yards on offense. Clearly, their wins were coming courtesy of their defense, which was eighth in this same category. That’s a far cry from a season ago when they were first in yards offensively.

Pointing to Dak Prescott missing five games is an easy excuse, but that’s all it is — an excuse. Even when Prescott has played, the offense has been inconsistent. In Week 1, they managed just three points and the 24 points they scored against the Lions are misleading.

Dallas scored 14 of those points in the final three minutes and they were aided by five turnovers caused by the defense. Looking beyond that, you can see they went three and out three different times, including twice to open the game. There were also two four-play drives that led to punts as well.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy deferred to Kellen Moore for play-calling duties, but why?

Head coach Mike McCarthy has a background as an offensive-minded coach and during his 13 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, he always called the plays. He had a ton of success doing this, landing in the top 10 for points in nine of those campaigns — and won a Super Bowl as well.

His deference to Moore was out of respect for what Moore had done in that role with Dallas. In 2019, Moore ran one of the most efficient offenses as a rookie coordinator and while he declined in a huge way in 2020, that was largely due to Prescott breaking his ankle in Week 5. He rebounded nicely in 2021 but the regression this year is alarming especially when it comes to his red zone work.

Dallas is in the bottom half of the league in touchdowns scored once they get inside the 20, sitting at just 50 percent right now. They did much better this weekend, but again, that was inflated due to the scoring at the end of the game.

Moore seemed to be calling plays that made no sense based on the yardage to gain and was trying to get fancy instead of keeping things simple and efficient, and it clearly wasn’t working, even against a poor Lions defense.

Should Mike McCarthy take over play-calling for the Cowboys?

As it stands right now, this probably isn’t the right time to switch things up. Moore has earned some trust due to the success he’s had when everyone is healthy.

Having said that, the slow starts and inability to take advantage of a poor defense have to change. The best approach now would likely be to let Moore and Prescott get into a rhythm but if they continue to perform the way they did for 57 minutes against Detroit, then McCarthy will need to consider taking over.