Cowboys defender outperforming WR Quentin Johnson adds to Kellen Moore's Chargers nightmare

Nov 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1)
Nov 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has done just fine in the same position with the Los Angeles Chargers, though it hasn't translated to much success. Conversely, the Cowboys offense is humming now that Mike McCarthy has included more shift and motion in his play-calling.

After 12 weeks, Moore's Chargers rank ninth in EPA per play, while the Cowboys trail only the Dolphins for first place in that department.

The Chargers dropped to 4-7 following their loss to the Ravens on Sunday night. Moore's offense was shockingly stagnant -- Brandon Staley's defense has been the main issue all season -- but familiar problems plagued the play-caller.

The most glaring issue? First-round pick Quentin Johnston was benched. Mind you, his benching comes after he dropped the potential game-winning touchdown from Justin Herbert last week against the Packers.

Johnston's been such a disappointment that Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland has outperformed the No. 21 overall pick. We're not joking.

Cowboys' DaRon Bland outperforming Quentin Johnston adds to Kellen Moore's Chargers nightmare

That is a mind-boggling graphic.

Let's make one thing clear: Johnston's lack of production isn't an indictment on Moore. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco selected Johnston with the No. 21 overall pick as the second receiver off the board; ahead of fellow WRs Zay Flowers, who went 22nd to Baltimore, and Jordan Addison, who went 23rd to the Vikings.

Ironically, Johnston was linked to the Cowboys leading up to the 2023 draft. He was one of multiple receivers who took a top-30 visit with Dallas.

Regarded as a top-10 pick before his final season at TCU, Johnston's stock plummeted because of drop concerns and struggles with contested catches. It's no surprise the former Horned Frog fell to the bottom half of the first round, but that gamble has made Moore's job as offensive coordinator markedly more difficult.

For context, Flowers has 58 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns with the Ravens, while Addison's caught 48 passes for 647 yards and 7 scores with the Vikings and has shined in Justin Jefferson's absence.

What isn't surprising, though, is that the Chargers were the team that overlooked Johnston's concerns and grew enamored with his traits.

Essentially, Moore has one dynamic pass-catcher in Keenan Allen, who has 97 catches for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns. No other Charger has more than 30 catches, 400 receiving yards or four touchdowns.

To make matters worse for Moore, Austin Ekeler has experienced an Ezekiel Elliott-esque regression at age 28, and most of the Bolts' offensive line is a turnstile besides the left tackle and center positions.

Again, Moore's done nice work in his first season in LA. It helps to have a cyborg like Justin Herbert orchestrating your offense, but we can't help but feel like Moore will always be held back by the Chargers' incompetence. The fact Bland has better stats than the Bolts' first-round WR is as damning as it gets.

Luckily for Moore, it seems as though head coach Brandon Staley will be fired sooner than later.

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