FRISCO, Texas – Whatever else there might still be to learn about this new Cowboys regime, Mike McCarthy made one thing abundantly clear on Thursday.
He's a big fan of Kellen Moore – so much so that he'd have tried to pursue the young offensive coordinator, regardless of whether or not he'd been hired to be the Cowboys' head coach.
"Kellen was someone that I was watching from afar, regardless of which opportunity worked out for myself personally," McCarthy said. "The opportunity to work with Kellen was something I was going to pursue either way."
That's high praise coming from one of the most successful offensive coaches of the last decade, but it's not exactly surprising. Whatever else might have gone wrong for the Cowboys in 2019, their first-year offensive coordinator helped them finish No. 1 in the NFL in yards and No. 6 in scoring.
What is surprising, though, is that Moore's early success has been enough that McCarthy intends to keep him in place as the Cowboys' play caller – a role that many thought he would take over upon accepting the job.
"I'm confident that Kellen can still be the play caller. That's the path we're going down," he said.
With that tidbit out of the way, it's on the coaching staff to determine what plays will be called. McCarthy was sure to say that the structure and organization of the offense will draw heavily from his extensive experience. But for a team that needs to make so many changes elsewhere, McCarthy repeated several times that he wants to build off what Moore has already put in place, rather than change it.
"The offense was the one that I want to build off what's been established," he said. "That was part of interviewing Kellen and him being the offensive coordinator and surrounding him with experienced individuals that have an understanding."
As might be expected, a big component of this whole equation is going to be Dak Prescott and the relationship Moore has built with him. Moore has been with the Cowboys through every year of Prescott' career – first as a teammate, then as his quarterback coach and finally as the offensive coordinator. That chemistry is something McCarthy said he doesn't take lightly.
"His relationship with the quarterback -- as I've always stated when we talk about offense, the offense will be built around making the quarterback successful," he said. "So what Dak has established here in this current offense is very important to me as we put this offense together."
It's still too early to say what it's all going to look like. McCarthy said he wants the transition to be as smooth as possible, but he did say the offense still needs to be built. He anticipates building it with Moore's terminology, which is quite a statement coming from a guy who was already coaching when Moore was born.
That will be sorted out in the coming months. But considering the changes McCarthy has made, and the ones he'll continue to make, his thoughts toward the Cowboys' offense and their young play caller feel awfully telling.
"I enjoy calling plays. I've had a lot of success doing it. But when I looked at the big picture, the opportunities that I've interviewed for, this was the one that the quarterback was established," he said. "His relationship with Kellen is important to me, and I think it's something we can definitely build off of."