(Writers' note: This column was posted before the Cowboys released Kellen Moore on Tuesday evening. He is still eligible to be added to the team's practice squad.)
IRVING, Texas – I’ve been inundated with emails from Idaho since mid-October, and I’ve been rolling my eyes at all of them.
In the depths of a six-game losing streak, though, I’m ready to listen to you, Kellen Moore fans.
I’ve finally seen the light. I'm down to give the guy a shot as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback.
If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referencing, let’s quickly recap. Kellen Moore is currently the Cowboys’ No. 3 quarterback. He stands at 6-0 and has never played a regular season NFL game, but he is widely considered the savior of the franchise by people from Idaho.
That’s probably because Moore was an All-World legend for the Boise State Broncos, who he guided to a 50-3 record during his four-year tenure from 2008-11. In that stretch, he led Boise State to an undefeated 2009 season, capped by a Fiesta Bowl win. He threw for an absurd 14,667 yards with 143 touchdowns and just 28 interceptions in that stretch.
He’s undoubtedly one of Boise’s best-ever players, and one of the better college quarterbacks of all time, and for a month I’ve been trying to tell people that it doesn’t matter.
For evidence of a fantastic college quarterback whose abilities don’t translate to the NFL, look no further than Tim Tebow. For that matter, look at his predecessor at the University of Florida. Danny Wuerffel’s Gators went 45-6-1 during his time in Gainesville, and he re-wrote the college record books. He also had a forgettable NFL career.
So why am I suddenly calling for Moore to start, having just outlined my argument against him?
Well, what else is there to lose? If you’ve forgotten (relax, I know you haven’t) the Cowboys have lost six games in a row. The hope was that they could win one or two, maybe three games during this stretch without Tony Romo and keep the ship afloat.
Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel presented the absolute best hope for that game plan, there’s no doubt. Both players are experienced NFL veterans. They’ve spent a lot of time in the league, they’ve won and lost games – they’re familiar with the ebb and flow of a season and the ups and downs of the game.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The duo has given the Cowboys some solid quarterback play over the past seven weeks, and they’ve also chalked up some awful performances. Through good and bad, they still haven’t managed a win.
This honestly isn’t an indictment on Cassel’s performance Sunday night against Philadelphia. Even with a costly pick-six in the fourth quarter, I thought he played his best game as a Cowboy and put the team in position to win. Calling for Moore isn’t a reaction to Cassel’s level of play.
It’s just that, again, what else is there to lose?
The Cowboys have squandered their opportunity to “stay afloat,” and Tony Romo is going to have his work cut out for him in the next six weeks – regardless of whether he’s 3-6 or 2-7.
Meanwhile, Moore presents an interesting question about the future. He wasn’t drafted in 2012, but he was immediately snatched up in free agency by Detroit. After three seasons with the Lions – and two with Scott Linehan – he was released.
Linehan liked him enough that he helped bring him to Dallas, where he was promptly promoted from the practice squad after Romo broke his collarbone. He was Weeden’s backup for two weeks while Cassel acclimated to the Dallas offense. But even in the three weeks that Cassel has started, Moore has remained on the active roster as the No. 3 quarterback – a position the Cowboys haven’t accounted for recently.
Judging by that fact, we can infer that the Cowboys like Moore enough to refrain from releasing him. After all, there’s no guarantee some other club won’t snatch him up if they do.
Do they like him enough to consider him in their plans for 2016? Will he be on the 90-man roster in the offseason, and will he play a role in OTAs and training camp?
That seems like an especially pertinent question if the Cowboys are serious about drafting a quarterback this spring. Of course, nobody is trying to usher in the end of Romo’s tenure too soon, but his injury has offered a terrifying reminder of what’s in store if this franchise doesn’t find a capable signal-caller in the coming years.
Is Moore the quarterback of the future? Probably not, but who knows? The Cowboys clearly like him, and they’re also no longer worried about protecting a respectable record.
Romo will be back when the team travels to Miami, and then we can begin the anxious watch to see if the Cowboys turn it around. Until then, there’s one more game for a team that’s long on questions.
By auditioning Kellen Moore, they could at least answer one of them definitively.