Skip to main content

Denver Broncos | News

'He'll be adaptable … to the players that he has': The Athletic's Jon Machota details Kellen Moore's head coaching candidacy


The Broncos continued their head-coaching interviews on Tuesday, as George Paton and Co. spoke with Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Moore, who has served as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator for the last three seasons, helped lead Dallas to the league's best scoring offense in 2021. Moore is among several offensive-minded coaches that the Broncos have interviewed for the head coaching position.

To learn more about Moore and his candidacy for the role, spoke with The Athletic's Jon Machota.

Aric DiLalla: What suggests that Kellen Moore could be ready to be a head coach after a pretty quick rise as an offensive coordinator?

Jon Machota: "The biggest thing that helps [his candidacy] is the landscape of the NFL, where it just seems like whoever is the next most popular young offensive mind, it seems to put you right at the top of whatever coaching opening is there. He obviously fits that mold. … I've been covering him since he was a player with the Cowboys, and you just always knew he was a real sharp offensive mind. Even when he was a backup to Tony Romo, you'd hear people talk about, 'Oh, this Kellen Moore. He's a great X's and O's guy.' … He ended up starting one of their games at the back end of the 2015 season and the Cowboys weren't very good, so I started doing a story on Kellen Moore and reaching out to some of his previous teammates at Boise State, and that's all you heard. 'Yeah, he was an outstanding college player obviously, but he's just a brilliant offensive mind.' So when he got the opportunity to be offensive coordinator here, there's always been a lot of hype behind Kellen. Everybody has known that even if he doesn't get a head coaching job in this cycle, he's eventually going to get one, whether it be in college or the pros. It's just inevitable [and more] about when it's going to happen."

AD: What are some of the staples of his offense or some of the calling cards of his system?

JM: "It's really about making it as Dak [Prescott]-friendly as possible, I've always felt like. Before he took over as OC, the offense was a little bit more stagnant. He worked in a lot more motions. … It's difficult for me to answer this because I really feel like what he does here — and this could be maybe his greatest strength — is that I do think he'll be adaptable to … the players that he has. Because this offense has Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, it was always going to be three wide [receiver sets]. That's just how it was going to be. That's the way the offense was structured. That's the way they wanted it to be with Dak and 'Zeke' [Ezekiel Elliott]. It went from a run-first offense with Zeke when it was Scott Linehan running the offense under Jason Garrett to where Kellen Moore has made it much more of a passing offense. Because of that, I'd say his biggest thing is he really wants to get every single person involved. … Some teams, especially with a wide receiver like Amari Cooper, … they're just forcing the ball to one guy. His offense has never been like that. It's been about spreading it around and on any given play, whatever the best matchup is, that's what they're going to take advantage of. Going into this season they even got to the point where they were like, 'If teams want to take away the pass, then we're going to run. And if they want to take away the run, we'll pass.' It just didn't end up because the offensive line didn't play well and 'Zeke' didn't have a great year, so they weren't as balanced as they were hoping to be, but his key has always been to be as balanced as possible. I guess in answering that question, it's all about the personnel you have. Any offensive coordinator's going to try to be balanced when you have all those receivers, Dak Prescott, all those big names on the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott. While that's been his philosophy with the Cowboys, it could be different if he becomes the Denver Broncos' head coach."

AD: How would you describe Moore's leadership style?

JM: "The big thing about Kellen Moore is he's not a real loud and vocal guy. He's very confident, almost comes off as kind of a quiet guy. He's not the big rah-rah type to be loud in front of the group or anything like that. I think we got some of our best glimpses really into him — and for any Broncos fan that wants to look at it — is to just go back and watch some of those episodes of Hard Knocks this year. Because they had some of his stuff in meetings. He's just very organized and ... you kind of know where you stand with Kellen Moore, is the way I would put it. He hasn't been a head coach at any level, so you really don't know how it's going to be until you get to that position. But he's taken over an offensive room where, like I said, there's a lot of stars there. When you have that, that means big money and that generally means — especially in Dallas — big personalities, egos, things like that. I have not ever heard one negative word about him running the room, calling the offense, anything like that. I've never heard anybody say anything negative about his leadership style at all. The only thing I'll say is that he just hasn't been a head coach, and so obviously when you make the leap from being a player to an offensive coordinator and then offensive coordinator to head coach, there's going to be all kinds of things that you're going to have to make adjustments along the way. I certainly think he can do that, because like I said, he's going to be a head coach. It's just about when it happens."

Related Content