NFL writer blasts Cowboys for dismissing Kellen Moore in favor of Mike McCarthy

Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys offseason has been a whirlwind. Between making blockbuster trades for Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, re-signing a handful of pivotal free agents and an unpredictable NFL Draft, one could forget that Dallas made wholesale changes to its coaching staff after the 2022 season ended.

Some of the changes were expected given multiple coaches were out of contract, but the dismissal of Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator took everyone by surprise given how prolific the Cowboys' offense had been (during the regular season) under his watch.

While the team hired Brian Schottenheimer as its de facto new OC, Mike McCarthy has presided over play-calling duties. It's a shakeup that split opinions among fans and analysts given McCarthy didn't cover himself in glover in his final days as the Packers' play-caller.

Still, most fans are keeping an open mind given McCarthy has led the Cowboys to 12 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1994 and 1995.

On the flip side, certain analysts still loathe the idea of "firing" one of the game's best offensive coordinators. The Ringer's Sheil Kapadia is among that group and he took Dallas to task for canning Moore in favor of McCarthy.

Will the Cowboys regret firing Kellen Moore, appointing Mike McCarthy as play-caller?

Kapadia believes the Cowboys overreacted to their playoff loss to the 49ers, and fired Moore as a result. Here's the gist of Kapadia's argument.

"The bottom line: It’s hard to envision a scenario where the move from Moore to McCarthy offers an upgrade. In four years with Moore, if we isolate the plays where Prescott was the quarterback, the Cowboys performed like the second-best offense in the NFL in terms of EPA per play. Did the offense look bad in a 19-12 playoff loss to the 49ers? No doubt. But that was one game on the road against the best defense in the NFL. Ideally, the Cowboys would’ve examined what went wrong in that game, made some tweaks, and moved forward. Instead, they made a big change that could result in a step back in 2023."

Sheil Kapadia

Those are fair points, but this is back-to-back playoffs that the Cowboys offense sputtered against a 49ers defense. It's not like San Francisco implemented a new scheme or facelifted its defenisve personnel after 2021, and yet Dallas still had no answers.

Kapadia also argues that the Cowboys had "bad turnover luck" and Dak Prescott won't throw nearly as many INTs next season. We'd venture to say both are true, but also counter with the fact Prescott had arguably his worst season as a starter in 2022 with Moore running the show.

While Prescott himself deserves to shoulder some of the blame, the offensive coordinator never gets of Scott-free in that situation and Moore's situational play-calling left something to be desired. It's one thing to score points at a high clip. It's another thing to put the team in harms way by failing to adjust to game script.

Kapadia also had the following to say about McCarthy:

"McCarthy indicated this offseason that he thinks the Cowboys can benefit from a more run-heavy approach that limits turnovers and puts games in the hands of his defense. McCarthy’s comments demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of what is actually wrong with the Cowboys."

That's a little harsh and misguided, as Dallas' actions (we trust actions more than mid-March quotes) suggest McCarthy was merely posturing to the media. The Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott this offseason, didn't draft a running back until the sixth round, only signed Ronald Jones who barely played last season, and traded for a stud receiver in Brandin Cooks.

It's impossible to say whether Dallas made the right call firing Moore, but he didn't get the job done when it mattered most. That's the bottom line. Maybe McCarthy isn't the answer, but that doesn't mean dismissing Moore is franchise malpractice like Kapadia has made it out to be.