Despite another failed season in 2022, the Dallas Cowboys enter the year like they always do -- with much hype. And every time, there is a good reason for it. But is this year different?
Dallas made big moves this offseason to acquire Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore, two difference makers on offense and defense. They traded just two 2023 fifth-round picks and a 2024 sixth-round pick to get them both.
Cooks has six 1,000-yard seasons over his nine-year career, and he will give Dak Prescott a speedy weapon in Dallas' offense.
Gilmore is a veteran that has played at a high level for so many seasons. He's a two-time All-Pro corner with four Pro Bowl appearances in four of the past five seasons. Playing opposite Trevon Diggs will be a game-changer on defense.
These moves, though, aren't underrated. Cooks and Gilmore are both big-time players. But what moves did Dallas make this offseason that are underrated?
3. "Mutually" Parting Ways with Kellen Moore
Many people might have been surprised when the Cowboys mutually parted ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore following the end of the 2022 season. After all, he was at the helm of leading a top offense in back-to-back years.
In 2021, Moore led the Cowboys to the number-one scoring offense. That unit averaged 31.2 points per game. Last season, Dallas averaged 27.5 points per game, fourth in the NFL. But Cowboys fans know how predictable the offense was at times, running on 2nd and long or throwing two-yard passes on third and long.
That's why, to them, the move was needed.
Now, we don't know how things will turn out with Mike McCarthy now calling the plays. It's certainly worth the risk, though.
Dallas hasn't gone anywhere in the playoffs in almost three decades. Recently, they lost in the Divisional Round to the 49ers last season. Things needed to change because it simply wasn't working.
And the decision to have McCarthy calling plays can work. He called the plays in Green Bay (for all but one season) using a west coast offense. The former Packers head coach also led them to a Super Bowl as the play caller in 2010.
A positive in the offensive change could lead to the Cowboys throwing more on early downs, as seen by this chart below. The Packers ranked toward the top of the league under McCarthy on first-down throws.
It appears things will change with McCarthy as the play caller. The Cowboys' head coach has also publicly taken shots at the way Moore ran the offense over the past couple of seasons:
"We didn’t have enough pass rush. And then we got into the playoffs, and we got into a shootout, and we got our ass kicked. …So my point is, I’ve been there, and he’s wired a little bit that way. I’ve been where Kellen’s been. Kellen wants to light the scoreboard up, but I want him to run the damn ball so I can rest my defense ... I think when you’re a coordinator, you know but you’re in charge of the offense. Being a head coach and being a play caller, you’re a little more in tune with (everything). I don’t desire to be the No. 1 offense in the league. I want to be the No. 1 team in the league with the number of wins and a championship. And if we’ve got to give up some production and take care of the ball a little better to get that, then that’s what we’ll do because we have a really good defense.”"
This move could backfire, and the Cowboys' offense could be worse in 2023. We could all easily look back and say, "Why did we let Moore go, McCarthy isn't it."
But for a team with championship aspirations, the decision is worth the risk. It wasn't working with Moore as the OC. Having an experienced playcaller like McCarthy could be a difference maker.