Cowboys: Is Kellen Moore the Answer?


The Cowboys are winless behind Matt Cassel. With nothing to lose, is it time to see if Kellen Moore is the answer at QB?

Kellen Moore, 26, has yet to start an NFL game, yet in recent weeks he’s built quite the fan following as the backup QB on the Dallas Cowboys. Granted, Cowboys fans are notorious for irrationally loving the backup QB, but this isn’t that. This is something completely different.

To make a case for Kellen Moore, you have to first understand the State of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have a 3-8 record entering tonight’s match-up against the NFC East leading Washington Redskins. They sit in last place, but at only two games out of first place, they still have a chance at winning the division.

It’s that hope – the hope of winning a very winnable division – that pushes the Cowboys to play their veteran signal caller, Matt Cassel. As Tony Romo’s primary back-up, Cassel has done little to excite. Winless in all four of his starts, Cassel was only able to post a positive performance against the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, but come on, they’re Philly. (insert Philadelphia/village bicycle joke here).

Matt Cassel is nothing more than a mediocre backup QB. If it wasn’t apparent after his first 10 years in the league, it should be now. He’s a bus driver at best, and frankly, the Cowboys are in need of more than just a bus driver this season.

The important thing to keep in mind is that while the Cowboys can still win the extremely weak NFC East, they don’t stand a chance in hell when they face the real teams in the playoffs. It’s possible Matt Cassel does just enough to win the division, but at no point has he shown the ability to beat anyone above average – let alone a playoff team.

I’m of the contingent that believes you should always play to win now, but you also must put yourself in the best possible position to win tomorrow. That doesn’t mean tank the season for a better draft pick but that also doesn’t mean playing over-the-hill veterans with limited future, instead of promising youth with untapped potential.

That’s why the Dallas Cowboys need to kick the tires on Kellen Moore. I know as much about Kellen Moore as the next guy. I’ve seen many of his games, I’ve read the reports, and seen the film. But that’s it. I don’t have any inside knowledge or secret source telling me he’ll be a star.

I do know what Kellen Moore has done in the past. I also know that the Cowboys need more than what Matt Cassel has been offering. Most of all, I know the Cowboys have nothing to lose since I don’t believe Cassel could realistically win a playoff game.

Kellen Moore is not spectacular in any one way – Unless, of course, you count a little thing called “winning”. The 6’0” 200lb passer from Boise State finished his college career a spectacular 50-3. The Mountain West may not be the SEC but it’s not Conference USA either. These are legit wins against mostly legit teams.

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At the NFL level, Kellen Moore isn’t a transcendent player capable of shaking up the league. With below-average arm strength, Moore will struggle with deep-outs and sideline-comebacks. At 6 foot nothing, Moore will need to work hard to deliver through passing lanes. And a 40 time of 4.94, he isn’t going to be very threatening on the run, either.

For a look at his 2012 Draft Profile check out: Kellen Moore and Kellen Moore

All of those were reasons Kellen Moore went undrafted in 2012. His weaknesses are real, but his oft-overlooked strengths are also real.

Kellen Moore is accurate. Ridiculously accurate. He had a 69.8% completion percentage in college and that included a ton of downfield passing and not just short patterns and check-downs. At Boise State, Moore passed for 14,667 yards. He threw 143 touchdowns and 28 interceptions giving him close to a 5:1 TD/INT ratio!

Kellen Moore is undersized but he’s shifty in the pocket and tough under pressure. His pocket presence and savvy are difficult to measure but easy to notice. He’s able to change the touch and trajectory of the pass in order to complete difficult passes and his quick release limits what opposing pass-rushers can do to him in the pocket.

Perhaps best of all is that Kellen Moore is able to read defenses before AND after the snap. Matt Cassel doesn’t do that. Neither did Brandon Weeden.

Watch Matt Cassel tonight. He reads defenses before the snap just fine, but sadly that’s where it ends. That’s why he stares down receivers and throws so many interceptions into misread coverages. He makes his mind up before the snap. Reading the defense post-snap is a rare quality and Kellen Moore had that quality in college.

"“I think he’s done a great job,” Jason Garrett said of Moore. “I think that’s one of his real assets is he’s a really smart football player. Obviously he was around Scott Linehan in Detroit so he has a comfort level with him and with our system. The terminology and some of the nuances and details of our system is different than what he ran in Detroit but I do think he has a comfort level with the concepts and how we try to do things.”"

Obviously we all need to keep a firm grip on reality here. Just because a player was good or great in college does not mean they will be good or great in the NFL. History has given us many examples of QBs who could not make the leap.

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That’s why this is just as much about the State of the Cowboys as it is about Kellen Moore’s potential. If Tony Romo was guaranteed to come back for the first round of the playoffs, I’d be singing a completely different tune. I’d say Matt Cassel should be the QB. I’d say he has just enough talent to squeak out a few wins against the bad teams left on the schedule. I’d say the Cowboys should then play Matt Cassel to give them the best chance at making the playoffs and then hand the reins to Romo in the postseason

Unfortunately that isn’t the case and Tony Romo is not going to return in week 1 of the playoffs. So why not Moore?We know what the Cowboys have in Cassel but we don’t know (honestly, no one does) what the Cowboys have in Moore.

Moore may stink. The Cowboys would then lose the division, have a great draft pick, and know not to bring back Moore or Cassel next season. But Kellen Moore may also be good. Good enough to inspire his team, win the division, give hope in the playoffs, and maybe even answer the QB question for the future.

In football, information is power and it’s time the Cowboys start finding out about Kellen Moore because what do they have to lose?

Next: Johnny Manziel and the Cowboys: A Distinct Possibility

"“He’s a really smart guy,” Garret said. “He’s a really hard working guy. He’s diligent in everything he does and that reflects in how he’s improved since he’s been here.”"