Cowboys’ McCarthy looking for growth from OC Kellen Moore: ‘We’ve got to be a little smarter’

Three points, three third-down conversions, 174 yards. That’s what the Cowboys offense generated with their franchise quarterback on the field Sunday night. While Prescott’s exit midway through the fourth quarter ended up being the obvious headline of the game, his unit hadn’t exactly put on a fireworks show up to that point.

As they look to get back on track in Week 2, they’ll do so with a second-string field general and the same lackluster pass-catching corps. That puts even more emphasis on the marching orders the offense will get from coordinator Kellen Moore.

But head coach Mike McCarthy suggested to reporters Friday that he’ll be watching over the game plan as well.

“My job is to make sure all three coordinators are teed up to be successful,” McCarthy said in his end-of-week press conference. “I make sure that Kellen knows that I’m there; we’re going to take a lap today through the call sheet- maybe a little longer than we normally do.”

The goal, Cowboys fans can only hope, is to weed out baffling calls like Tony Pollard’s double reverse on the third play from scrimmage that Tampa Bay snuffed out for an eight-yard loss.

“Trying to get a little misdirection there,” Moore said of the play on Monday. “It didn’t work. It wasn’t a good one.”

Nor was the direct-snap to Pollard just moments later. It wasted a first down, putting Prescott behind the chains and ultimately leading to a punt.

“That’s all part of growing as a playcaller,” McCarthy observed.

Both were indicative of the kind of plays Moore has become known for, the kind that, at least at one time, branded him as the league’s next offensive wunderkind.

But it’s all about the timing. Twice in the first 11 plays of the season didn’t seem like the right time in Week 1. And Week 2 doesn’t seem like it will be much better at all, with a backup quarterback getting just his second pro start.

“Let’s be honest, in Kellen’s time as a coordinator, he’s been able to play very, very aggressively,” McCarthy said. “But we’re in a phase right now where we’ve got to be a little smarter in certain situations.”

Like third downs. The Cowboys ended the night converting just three of their 15 third-down opportunities.

“We did a little extra work yesterday on third down,” McCarthy explained. “The Mojo Moment was all third downs. I really liked it, because our competitive periods- and we’re doing more of it than I’ve done, I know, in my years up north- I think it not only helps our football team, but it really helps our young guys, too.”

Let’s hope so, or Sunday’s contest could turn into a game of keep-away with a Bengals squad that held the ball for over 37 minutes of regulation in Week 1 and was top-10 in the league last season in time of possession.

So while the Cowboys coach admitted that he’ll be looking to offer input at times when the offense is “maybe not being as conservative as you’d like to be,” he also believes that it’s no time to completely re-invent the wheel just because a few key playmakers are sidelined.

“Kellen and the offensive staff have been working on this since April, longer than April,” McCarthy told the media. “We’ve just got to trust what we’ve built on our menu. You’ve got to adjust when you have change in the lineup.”

And as bad as Week 1 looked, it was just the first of 17 games. There’s ample time to course-correct: for the offense, for the embattled Kellen Moore, for McCarthy himself.

“The most important thing is not to overreact,” the coach added. “I just want [Moore] to feel that from me. I’ve got to do a better job; we’ve all got to do a better job.”


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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire