Frisco, Texas – This year’s biggest shakeup in the Dallas Cowboys organization has nothing to do with a roster change, with the decision to release running back Ezekiel Elliott a close second, but it’s rather head coach Mike McCarthy who parted ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore – replacing him with Brian Schottenhemier.
The latter enters his second year with the Cowboys, but this time in a cornerstone role, although he is not responsible for calling the plays, as that honor has been commandeered by McCarthy. That said, he’ll be one of two maestros to work out the plan on a weekly basis, and he’s targeting a specific style of offense for the Cowboys going forward.
“We want to play physically, fast and get everyone to cover the whole pitch,” Schottenheimer said. “…I want us to be able to play fast.”
The addition of Brandin Cooks via trade and running back Deuce Vaughn in the draft are proof of that, to say the least.
Moore was a longtime front office favorite who survived the regime change that saw McCarthy usher in the departure of Jason Garrett, rising through the ranks from backup quarterback to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, all while the space of only three years. While in Dallas, Moore coordinated an offense that at one point had quarterback Dak Prescott in the MVP talk and the unit as a whole ranked No. 1 in the league.
So don’t expect Schottenheimer and/or McCarthy to throw away the current playbook, even though they’ve also mixed offensive line seats, running backs and quarterback coaching positions.
“It’s been a chore [but] it’s been fun,” Schottenhemier said. “As you know, the system isn’t broken. It’s not broken. They have won a lot of games here. That’s what Mike is here for.
“They scored a ton of points and I have a ton of respect for Kellen. [Moore] And [Doug Nussmeier]and Ignore [Peete] And [Joe] Philbin – I’ve trained with most of these guys before. In terms of process, we organize ourselves for OTAs. We had a lot of discussions.”
Many of those discussions revolve around upcoming facilities, something Schottenheimer knows very well as a former offensive coordinator for the Rams and, more recently, the Seahawks.
“When you start with OTA Install 1 and go through the process, there may be things in OTA Install 1 that may be different from Training Camp Install 1,” he explained. “The way it’s set up is pretty cool. The [players] hear it in Phase 2, for the first time, and we’re into 12 days of concept teaching. A concept teaching day is where we take a family of games and set them up, all the different adjustments and things, with less training.
“And then when we get into the OTAs, we’ll set up real facilities with specific builds with releases, and then we’ll modify them as we prepare for training camp.”
There’s a plan moving forward, it’s already being executed, and everyone involved understands how important it is for the Cowboys to get to the next stage of the playoffs in 2023. For his part Schottenheimer may not be used to not calling games OC, but if that means eventually hoisting a Lombardi Trophy in February, count it.
“I do not have [been in this situation before], but I’m excited – I really am,” he said. “There’s no ego on my part. I just want to win. I want to help this team win for the players, first and foremost, and for this organization and the Jones family – [I have] all the respect in the world for Mike.
“And that’s my job: to help prepare the guys and prepare the staff and be in a position where we feel like we can go out there every week and compete and rack up a lot of wins together. I’m excited about the process, but it will be [admittedly] be a little bit different because I’ve never done it.”
Considering how much weaponry the team has on offense, there’s at least a good chance his first time will be the Charm.