Kellen Moore has been one of the hottest names in the NFL coaching ecosystem since before he even finished his playing career. Could 2023 be the year he becomes an NFL head coach, or does Moore still need to prove himself as an offensive coordinator and interviewer?
Is Kellen Moore Ready To Be a Head Coach?
Without being in the Dallas Cowboys‘ locker room and meeting rooms, it’s difficult to tell. We haven’t been in the room for his various head coaching interviews for the past two years. However, the questions that Moore reportedly must answer will be difficult to do.
How does one learn to have a commanding presence, particularly when they field a boyish charm in their appearance? Well, his offenses are beginning to command respect. Additionally, Moore’s answered many of the questions regarding his offense heading into 2022.
Moore needed to find a way to get CeeDee Lamb far more involved in the offense this season, and he has. Lamb ranks fourth in targets this season, and Moore has found ways to keep Lamb consistently engaged, commanding at least five targets in every single game this season for Dallas.
Aside from an embarrassing Week 1 performance on offense, the Cowboys have been outstanding against defenses of all shapes and sizes this season when Dak Prescott has been healthy.
Kellen Moore’s Offensive Mind
He’s still evolving as a play-caller and offensive architect. Unlike the wide zone, play-action heavy offensive schemes that have a succinct identity, Moore picks the best pieces from other offenses to implement in his own.
Moore has a knack for dramatic trick plays, but he must improve on his timing with their deployment. But if there is an identity with the Cowboys’ offense, it’s their West Coast passing attack.
Moore and Prescott have made lemonade out of lemons this season. The Cowboys’ pass blocking has been underwhelming all season, and losing Terence Steele didn’t help. But Moore has found a way to consistently get the ball out of Prescott’s hands quickly while still finding ways to successfully push the ball downfield.
But Moore’s biggest improvement in 2022 may have been in the run game. Although Dallas’ run game can still find itself predictable situationally, it has evolved in versatility between the two-headed Cowboys backfield.
Since becoming the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator in 2019, Dallas has ranked seventh in EPA per play. But in the three seasons Prescott has played a majority of the offensive snaps, Dallas has ranked third, seventh, and seventh (through 16 games).
In other words, when Prescott is healthy, the Cowboys’ offense has been consistently good.
Potential Head Coaching Salary
As a first-time head coach on the offensive side of the ball, the average seems to land somewhere around $5 million. However, Jerry Jones has deep pockets, and the offensive consistency Moore has found in Dallas realistically allows him to wait out the coaching cycle for an opportunity of his choosing.
The problem is, there are only 32 of these jobs, and only a few of them come open every year. It’s a difficult proposition to turn down. Luckily, Moore’s currently coaching underneath a Super Bowl-winning head coach and beside someone who has had his share of successes and failures at that level in Dan Quinn to confide in during the interviewing process.
Teams That Could Target Kellen Moore
We don’t have a full picture of the job openings in the NFL, but a few of the teams with current openings could look to Moore as a potential option as head coach.
If the Panthers want to hire a young offensive-minded coach, they could target Moore. Pairing Moore with an experienced defensive coordinator with head coaching experience might be exactly what the doctor ordered for Carolina.
While Steve Wilks has proved to some to be worthy of another crack as a head coach, Carolina could try to convince him to supplement Moore on his first journey as top dog.
Update as of Jan 20:
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Broncos requested interviews with both Cowboys coordinators. The Carolina Panthers have also requested an interview with Moore.