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Offseason | 2023

Mick Shots: A Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On


FRISCO, Texas – Offseason, my foot.

A week ago, the Cowboys announce their decision to move on from six assistant coaches, including the guys taking care of running backs, linebackers and the offensive line.

Then the first day this week comes the mutual decision to part ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier.

The very next day, the Chargers gobble up Moore as their new offensive coordinator.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Saints trade Sean Payton to the Denver Broncos for a first-round pick (29th, in 2023) and a 2024 second.

By Wednesday morning, Tom Brady announces his retirement from football, for good this time, meaning the Cowboys won their first matchup in eight career meetings just in time during these playoffs, but become the answer to three trivia questions:

Who was the last team to beat Brady in his 23-year NFL career?

What team did Tom Brady throw the last of his 737-career touchdown passes against (regular season and playoffs)?

And who was the last NFL player to intercept a Tom Brady pass?

Plus, in the never-ending seasons of the National Football League, the Senior Bowl is once again taking place during this no-game week, the Pro Bowl doings commence Thursday evening, with Super Bowl week to begin right after that, LVII being played Sunday, Feb. 12.

And by Wednesday afternoon, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., that indeed Cowboys head coach McCarthy would be calling plays this season for the team, saying, "This is the logical step to build on it and use what we've established, if you will, the foundation of the things we've got. This is the time for us to build on it. That's what this is, a building step."

And going forward, the Cowboys must start whittling down that list of 19 unrestricted free agents, 12 of those legit starters.

No doubt after filing these shots, something else is bound to happen within hours. So let's go.

  • More Mac: Pointed out last week if the Cowboys parted ways with Kellen Moore or someone hired him as their next head coach, then McCarthy should assume the offensive coordinator's role. Well, after this so-called mutual parting and the Chargers immediately hiring Moore as their offensive coordinator, now McCarthy indeed is in charge of play-calling duties. The Cowboys are sure to hire an offensive coordinator in name only, someone to handle the day-to-day chores, but there will be a combined effort in the game planning, with McCarthy calling plays. And already the Cowboys have interviewed two candidates, Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown and Panthers running backs coach Jeff Nixon for the job. Also, the Cowboys are expected to hire veteran NFL coach Mike Solari as their new offensive line coach. Solari, the Cowboys special teams coach and assistant offensive line coach in 1987-88 on Ton Landry's staff, has been coaching for 45 years, has been with eight NFL teams during his career, and crossed paths with McCarthy in Green Bay as the assistant offensive line coach in 2015.
  • Change, Change: Hey, so many thought Moore was an independent contractor. Not so much. There is a reason you saw McCarthy wearing a headset on game day and always holding the play sheet, at times slamming it to the ground too. Hey, being an offensive coordinator is the reason McCarthy earned that Green Bay head coaching job and why he was so successful there. I mean, he did have something to do with Aaron Rodgers, right? And, as Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said at the Senior Bowl, Moore and McCarthy began differing on philosophies, "I think the more (McCarthy) has been around Kellen and as much as he respects him, there's still a part of it that doesn't totally jive, if you will, with what he wants out of the offense."
  • More Moore: The Chargers certainly qualified Moore's ability as an offensive coordinator by wasting no time bringing him aboard once he was available. And just maybe Moore saw that as a better opportunity, thus the "mutual" part of the divorce since with a year left on his contract, lateral moves in the NFL are prohibited. So why was Moore the Chargers choice? Three things. They witnessed the emergence of rookie Dak Prescott, the former Cowboys' backup quarterback helping former head coach Jason Garrett develop the fourth-round pick, knowing they have a young quarterback in Justin Herbert. Next, in Moore's four seasons as offensive coordinator, the Cowboys ranked among the top four in points per game (27.7, second), yards per game (391, second) and third down percentage (44 percent). Don't let one playoff game cloud his production. Then there's this: Moore already has a relationship with Herbert. Google Kendall Auto Group, based in Boise, Idaho, and Eugene, Ore. Moore appeared in TV commercials with Herbert, along with Boise State alum Leighton Vander Esch, over the past year in their former college cities. Pretty funny stuff, the out-takes too. Guarantee you Herbert had input in this decision. And think what Moore inherits in Los Angeles with Herbert the 2022 season's second-leading QB with 4,739 yards passing, running back Austin Ekeler leading the NFL with 18 rushing TDs while chipping in 107 receptions, and the likes of wide receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton, the Cowboys' one-time rookie free agent (2019) waived on the final cut and now coming off a torn ACL with the Chargers. With all that, though, the Chargers averaged just 23 points a game.
  • Shhhh: So all those who just knew Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was dying to hire Payton as his head coach must eat some words. Payton, one year removed from leaving the Saints with now two years still left on his contract, goes to Denver as the head coach and offensive coordinator, with no doubt his No. 1 responsibility being to fix quarterback Russell Wilson. "This was the opportunity I was looking for," Payton told the New Orleans Times-Picayune1b52ef64-a1bc-11ed-a5df-53836005217d.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share)_ on Tuesday, adding,"It's a great fanbase and great tradition. The ownership group is fantastic, and I love the way they competed in some of their games last year." Problem was offense, finishing 21st overall and dead last averaging just 16.9 points a game and missing the playoffs a fifth consecutive season. Have at it, Sean.
  • Brady Bunch: Most everyone has a Brady tale after his 23-year NFL career, lasting until age 45, winning seven Super Bowls – winning more Sper bowls than any NFL franchise – six with New England and the seventh in the first of his three years with Tampa Bay. But loved this tale from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as told to ESPN's Mike Reiss: "I have a flashback. I think of him walking down the steps at the old Foxboro Stadium, looking like a skinny beanpole with a pizza under his arm – it's late at night. He walks over to me and says, 'Hi Mr. Kraft, I'm Tom Brady, your sixth-round draft pick.' I said, 'I know who you are.' He looked me right in the eye and said, 'And I'm the best decision your football team has ever made.' You know, he was right." Dead right.
  • Lane Change: OK, this one might be slightly out of my lane, but couldn't pass it up, what Alabama head coach Nick Saban had to say at the 18th annual Alabama Football Coaches Association convention in Montgomery last week. He reportedly told attendees that someone representing one of the best high school cornerback recruits in the nation wanted to know if 'Bama would pay $800,000 in NIL compensation to sign the player, and that another player in the transfer portal was requesting not only $500,000 from the Crimson Tide but also wanted Alabama to admit his girlfriend into Law School. "I'm not paying a kid a bunch of NIL money before he earns it," Saban reportedly said, though also adding his players earned more than $3 million in NIL compensation this past year.
  • Cold Facts: Always thought Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz would excel in just his second full season starting in the NFL, and while some thought this was a position of weakness back during training camp, the former fourth-round draft choice out of Wisconsin certainly played at a high level, as evidenced by picking up a Pro Bowl bid as the NFC alternate center since Philadelphia's Jason Kelce is playing in the Super Bowl … Hey, guess who the Cowboys are going to meet in Los Angeles this coming season: none other than new Chargers OC Kellen Moore. Great storyline for us media types … With the salary cap rising from $208.2 million another $16.6 million to $224.8 million, that should greatly help but not totally solve the Cowboys' cap problems going forward in 2023 … Oh, and during Moore's reign as offensive coordinator, twice the Cowboys led the league in total offensive yards and had the NFL's highest scoring offense at 31.2 points a game in those years.

And the last word today goes to a couple of Tweeters, first Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse, the guy with what's turned out to be Brady's final interception of his career. And that was not lost on Kearse after hearing Brady's announcement on Wednesday.

Kearse Tweets out a picture of the ball from the first-round playoff game against the Buccaneers with the caption, "Good thing I held on to this one . . . Helluva career TB12, the GOAT!!"

And, hey, one more from Payton, since he and Brady dominated the news on Wednesday, Payton Tweeting out a picture of the two back when a young Brady with New England and Payton an assistant with the Giants met prior to a preseason game in the early 2000s, saying, "Who would have known then. Simply the Best. Congratulations. # GOAT."

Shots galore, right?

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