As NFL defenses continue to try to figure out Kellen Moore, Cowboys fans are enjoying getting to know the evil genius behind the high-powered offense, too. Turns out that his “philosophy” isn’t so much about an identifiable scheme, but simply running plays. Any personnel grouping, any formation, in any situation, at any spot on the field, even on fourth downs- where old-school wisdom might dictate playing it safe with a punt. It’s one of the reasons why he’ll be a hot coaching candidate once again next offseason.
He, along with Dan Quinn, that is. Quinn’s star linemen may not be back before the calendar changes though, an update from Stephen Jones indicates.
Elsewhere, Thursday’s practice report sees Tyron Smith trending in the right direction and Greg Zuerlein back. We’re looking way ahead at Dak Prescott’s Hall of Fame credentials based on his career so far. We’re examining weaknesses still to be fixed before the Cowboys start a playoff run, giving Coach Mike McCarthy more credit for the team’s current success, and previewing Sunday’s showdown in Kansas City… despite one source already giving the Chiefs the win. All that, plus going inside the mind of Tony Pollard, and what the league will be doing differently this holiday season regarding COVID-19. That’s ahead in News and Notes.
Updates: Tyron Smith limited again; injury report :: The Mothership
The team’s left tackle practiced for the second day in a row. Although Smith was limited once again, it’s a step in the right direction toward playing Sunday in Kansas City. Rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph did not practice due to a personal matter, fellow rookie CB Nahshon Wright was limited, and kicker Greg Zuerlein participated in full after being brought back from the Reserve/COVID list.
Kellen Moore and the Cowboys are proving you don’t need one system to win :: The Ringer
The Cowboys offense is like a restaurant with a big menu. It’s ambitious and awfully hard to pull off. But the Cowboys under Moore are doing it all, and they’re doing it all at a high level. It comes from a philosophy Moore learned at Boise State under Coach Chris Petersen, who once said, “We run plays; we don’t have an offense. It makes it difficult to defend.” From odd personnel groupings, overloaded formations, and pre-snap motions and shifts to using early plays to set up altered wrinkles on those plays later for big gains, Moore is proving himself to be a playcalling prodigy that Jerry Jones may not be able to afford… but also can’t afford to let go of.
Cowboys continue to treat fourth down as their true weapon: Decoding Kellen Moore :: The Athletic
The league is looking at fourth down differently these days. The Cowboys’ offensive coordinator (along with head coach Mike McCarthy) is of the opinion that third down isn’t where you have to get all the yards to move the sticks; just enough to set up a solid fourth-down play call. It’s a seismic shift in thinking… and for a high-octane offense like Dallas’s, it’s simply giving them more opportunities to score more points. Bob Sturm’s breakdown of the Cowboys’ fourth-down and red-zone plays versus Atlanta show how they’ve become so effective at it.
Film study: Three areas Cowboys defense must improve to become elite :: Touchdown Wire
The Cowboys appear to have the inside track on representing the NFC East with a playoff berth, but that doesn’t mean they’re elite quite yet. To get there, they need to get better at stopping the run, the defense is still far too susceptible to pre-snap misdirection, and the linebackers sometimes have a tendency to drop back to their spots a little bit too quickly, leaving a huge hole in the middle of the field. A deep postseason run could depend on Dan Quinn’s unit fixing those things.
Shaky home-field advantage, pick plays among 6 things to know in Cowboys-Chiefs :: Cowboys Wire
Arrowhead Stadium may be a daunting place for visiting teams, but the Chiefs actually haven’t done well at home this season, either. Among other storylines to watch as Sunday approaches: the Kansas City defense is pretty porous against good teams, the offense is not what it has been the past few years, and while Patrick Mahomes can make magic happen from time to time, he’ll also give an opportunistic defense like Dallas’s some chances.
At this stage of his career, stats put Dak Prescott on Canton-bound track :: Robby Greer (Twitter)
Week 11 win probabilities, score projections | Game Theory :: NFL.com
Cynthia Frelund’s mathematical models have picked the Chiefs, a 2.5-point favorite with a 55% win probability, to top the Cowboys in Week 10 by a 29-26 score. Kansas City has been given a 51% probability of covering the spread in the game that features an over/under line of 55.5 total points.
Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy among favorites for coach of year :: Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Dallas coach currently has the third-best odds to win the NFL Coach of the Year award, as per Circa Sports. Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel leads the pack as the +295 favorite; Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury is second at +425. McCarthy has 6-1 odds. “Historically, it’s gone to a coach with the team that exceeds its regular season win total by the largest margin,” Circa Sports oddsmaker Chris Bennett said.
Cowboys Wire Pod: It’s time to start putting some respect on Mike McCarthy’s tenure :: Cowboys Wire
K.D. Drummond and Ryan O’Leary tackle the topic of coaching on this week’s podcast. It’s been a popular pastime of the Cowboys fanbase to rag on their coaches in recent years, but it’s hard to deny that Dan Quinn has brought a whole new element to both the locker room and the field. As for Kellen Moore, K.D. predicts that he’ll get the Dallas tight ends involved on Sunday just to try to outshine Travis Kelce. And Coach McCarthy deserves a ton more credit than he’s getting for the team’s remarkable turnaround.
NFL mock draft 2022: Jordan Reid’s predictions for all 32 first-round picks, including Kayvon Thibodeaux, Matt Corral, Kenny Pickett :: ESPN
It’s never too early to start mock drafting, and it’s never too early to start forecasting the college safety that the entire fanbase will be screaming for the Cowboys to target. Using ESPN’s Football Power Index projections to predict a draft order, the Worldwide Leader has Dallas picking 28th overall. Jaquan Brisker of Penn State is an active and loose-moving safety with experience at multiple spots. He has five interceptions and 12 pass breakups over three seasons at Penn State, and would represent a relatively low-cost but potentially long-term upgrade to a perennial weak spot on their roster.
3 Cowboys’ assistants mentioned as potential NFL head coaches :: Cowboys Wire
Some teams are already thinking about how they’ll rebuild for next season, and some of them will certainly be calling Dallas when their head coaching spot opens up. Dan Quinn has been there before (and may be again), and Kellen Moore will get his chance at some point (either in Dallas or elsewhere). But defensive line coach Aden Durde is also a name to keep an eye on. Maybe not this year, but he’ll make a fascinating prospect someday soon.
1st & Ten: Tony Pollard | 2021 :: The Mothership
The backup running back gets the spotlight all to himself for this ten-question interview. Pollard breaks down the importance of being “a little crazy” when it comes to returning kicks, explains why he’s afraid of rollercoasters, reveals who’s on his pregame playlist, and talks a little barbecue by comparing Texas-style joints to his family’s restaurant in Memphis.
NFL to intensify COVID-19 protocols around Thanksgiving holiday :: ESPN
Just as the nation prepares to celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday that will surely feel more normal than last year’s, the NFL is suddenly taking extra precautions against a COVID-19 resurgence for the regular season’s home stretch. Teams “are strongly encouraged to offer drive-through testing” for friends and family of staff and players who’ll be staying or visiting with them for the holiday. All personnel will undergo mandatory testing the Monday and Wednesday after the holiday, and masks will be mandatory inside club facilities Nov. 25 through Dec. 1. And all NFL teams will be required to have video cameras installed in their weight rooms and cafeterias, with the footage saved for 30 days in case the league asks to review it to check compliance.
Stephen Jones updates on Lawrence, Gallimore, Gregory return among other topics (Twitter)
The Cowboys executive VP appeared on Movin’ The Chains, the drive time Sirius XM NFL show on Thursday afternoon. He discussed many topics with hosts Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller, surrounding the Dallas Cowboys’ season. The most noteworthy detail he shared is that fans should not anticipate seeing any of the injured defensive lineman either this Sunday against Kansas City nor Thursday for the Thanksgiving game against the Raiders. Will they be back for New Orleans on the subsequent Thursday night? That’s a matter of interpretation.
He also spoke about Anthony Brown’s improvement and the pressure he’s getting from Kelvin Joseph.
Excuse the typos, transcribing a radio interview on a phone is not easy.