Vikings

Why Has Kellen Moore Become A Sought-After Head Coaching Candidate?

Photo Credit: Tim Heitman (USA TODAY Sports)

For the second-straight game, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves squaring off against a young and highly publicized offensive coordinator who will likely become a head coach next season. After the Vikings narrowly escaped the Carolina Panthers and Joe Brady’s 11-point fourth-quarter comeback with a win in Week 6, 32-year-old offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and the explosive 5-1 Dallas Cowboys come to town for a primetime affair on Halloween.

With Moore calling the shots for the Cowboys’ offense, the NFC East leaders will enter US Bank Stadium on Sunday night with the league’s top-ranked offense in both points and yards. After Moore strategically decided to abandon the run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ nightmarish defensive front in Week 1, the Cowboys have pounded opposing defenses into oblivion with their ground game spearheaded by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

Dallas is averaging 185.2 rushing yards per game during their current five-game winning streak. Coincidentally, the Cowboys waltzed into US Bank Stadium last season with Andy Dalton and an offensive line comprised almost entirely of backups and ran for 180 yards during their Week 11 victory against the Vikings.

In Moore’s first season as the offensive coordinator in 2019, Dallas’ offensive production skyrocketed, ranking first in yards and sixth in points. Dallas was near the bottom of the league in the previous season, ranking 22nd in both points and yards before Jason Garrett gave the keys to Moore.

Moore was a star quarterback at Boise State under head coach Chris Peterson from 2007-11. In fact, Moore was holding a clipboard, redshirting during his freshman year back in ’07 when these unforgettable moments took place.

Moore learned a thing or two from Peterson, as the student has officially become the teacher — at the expense of today’s NFL.

Don’t let the recent string of rushing dominance fool you — Moore’s offenses have little problem exposing defenses through the air as well. The Cowboys are currently the No. 5 in passing offense and were on a record-setting pace last season before Dak Prescott went down for the year in Week 5 against the New York Giants. Through the first four weeks last season, Moore’s offense averaged 407.8 passing yards per game.

And Moore didn’t flinch when the injury bug bit the Cowboys hard last season. After a few weeks with third- and fourth-string quarterbacks, the Cowboys came off their Week 10 bye and finished the year 4-3 while averaging 27.3 points and 342 yards per game, which included the aforementioned Week 11 victory in Minneapolis.

While other coaches were pointing the finger at injury misfortune after giving up 52 points and 583 yards on Christmas day, Moore was quietly going about his business by figuring out ways to make lemonade after being handed a season’s worth of lemons. As a result of Moore’s outstanding ability to produce league-leading offensive production with backups, the Cowboys made Moore one of the league’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Before you start fantasizing about what Moore could do as the head coach of an offense led by Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen, it’s important to remember who we’re dealing with.

Jerry’s no fool. When the inevitable happens and Moore goes through the interview process for vacant head coaching positions — like he did last season with the Philadelphia Eagles — do you really believe that Jerry Jones will stand by and watch his hotshot offensive coordinator take another job, leaving his beloved Cowboys with freakin’ Mike McCarthy?

I’d be shocked.

Moore is going to force an NFL franchise to offer him a head coaching position in a few months. And when that happens, Jones will be faced with a franchise-altering decision: let the hotshot coordinator walk, or elevate him to head coach in 2022?

The Vikings have spent decades fumbling this exact dilemma, allowing their former coordinators to leave Minneapolis to become Super Bowl champions elsewhere: Tony Dungy, Brian Billick, and Mike Tomlin, to name a few. Throw in Kevin Stefanski and his immediate success with the Cleveland Browns.

Sorry, Vikings fans, but my money’s on Jerry choosing Moore over McCarthy. Unlike Roger Headrick and the Wilfs, Jones would never allow someone like Moore to leave without offering him the head job.

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Photo Credit: Tim Heitman (USA TODAY Sports)

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