DALLAS — Kellen Moore was born to coach.
Even when the former 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist was setting the record for most games won by an FBS quarterback with 50, NFL scouts and coaches couldn't help but notice the Boise State product's coaching DNA.
"Just watching Kellen as a player, I remember when he was coming out of Boise, Chris Petersen [then Boise State head football coach], talking about what he thought of him not only as a player but as his football mind," Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was a coach's son, all of those things."
Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones told "Shan & RJ" on 105.3 "The Fan" (KRLD-FM) that it was Moore's comprehension of the game that made him effective at Boise State.
“He was an outstanding, cerebral quarterback in college, really as good as you could find doing it mentally," said Jones. "And I think you start there and then he’s had great experience."
For the 2011 NFL draft, McCarthy was entering the sixth season of his 13-year stint with the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback wasn't exactly a need as Aaron Rodgers had emerged as a Super Bowl MVP the season before, and Matt Flynn was his backup. The Packers wouldn't use a pick on Moore, and neither would the other 31 teams. There were questions about the 6-0, 200-pound quarterback's stature and physical traits, and thus he went undrafted to the Detroit Lions, backing up Matthew Stafford.
It was in Detroit from 2011-13 where Moore caught the attention of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who was working under Jim Schwartz, a defensive-minded coach. As a player, Moore was taking his Chris Petersen influence from college and melding it with Linehan and Schwartz's approaches.
"You take a little piece from everyone you get to interact with and you’re constantly evolving and adjusting things, maybe I can do things a little different," Moore said.
Moore even spent a season in Detroit with coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. It wasn't until Moore followed Linehan to Dallas in 2015, backing up Tony Romo and playing for coach Jason Garrett, that the public started grafting Moore onto a particular coaching tree.
In 2018, Moore retired and became the team's quarterbacks coach, continuing to work with Dak Prescott, who the team drafted in the fourth round in 2016.
Moore's relationship with Prescott helped carve out a niche on the Cowboys' coaching staff so that when McCarthy succeeded Garrett after the 2019 season, it was clear to McCarthy that taking over play-calling could disrupt the offense.
Said McCarthy: "It was a big decision personally for me, but when I looked at this opportunity and was blessed to get this opportunity, it was about Dak Prescott. What would be the best to continue to advance Dak?"
Moore has stayed in place, and the offense continues to be one of the most potent in the NFL due to melding of Moore's creativity with the Cowboys' Pro Bowl personnel in Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and receiver Amari Cooper.
Dallas added former Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn to the staff as defensive coordinator, and for Moore, it provides another football mind to tap as he continues building his skill set for an inevitable head coaching gig.
"I’ve got this opportunity to listen to Dan," said Moore. "He’s been a head coach for a long time in Atlanta, now I hear this little piece for him, okay, maybe I need to rethink the approach. I think it’s a fun process: You’re always growing, always trying to learn from these people. It’s been fun."
Jones is hoping that the Cowboys can benefit from Moore as offensive coordinator before he starts listening to offers from the NFL. Dallas was fortunate enough that Moore turned down the job to coach his alma mater in the 2021 offseason.
"He’s got a hell of a record and certainly I’m excited about these next 15 ballgames and excited about what he could do with the talent level we’ve got," said Jones. "He’s a fine coach.”
Are you happy with how Kellen Moore has handled the offense for the Cowboys so far this season? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.