New Chargers OC Kellen Moore is embracing change

ByLindsey Thiry ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
ESPN

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Three days after leaving his position as the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator and less than 48 hours after accepting the same post with the Los Angeles Chargers, Kellen Moore emphasized in an introductory news conference Wednesday that sometimes change can serve everybody well.

"Felt like I was kind of in that space," Moore said about his decision to mutually part ways with Dallas, where he spent eight years, including three as a player and five as an assistant. "It works for both sides."

After two days of discussions, the Cowboys announced Sunday that Moore, 34, would move on, and by Monday morning, the Chargers announced they had found a replacement for Joe Lombardi, who was fired after the season.

Moore said the deal was able to come together quickly in partbecause of the relationship he had established with coach Brandon Staley when the Chargers and Cowboys held joint practices during training camp.

"It was a very fast process in very unique circumstances," Moore said. "Enjoyed my time with Brandon during those couple days, and so naturally we kind of had a relationship that extended through the season, mostly through text messages. ... We kind of stayed in contact, and then, over the weekend, this thing obviously happened pretty fast."

Before parting ways with Dallas, Moore also was interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy with the Carolina Panthers, but that position was eventually filled by former Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich.

During the last four seasons under Moore, the Cowboys' offense ranked in the top four in points per game (27.7) yards per game (391) and third-down conversion percentage (44%).

In L.A., Moore joins an organization that finished 10-7 and made its first playoff appearance in four years. He inherits an offense that demonstrated great potential under quarterback Justin Herbertbut that also proved inconsistent and unable to run the football -- traits that were widely displayed in a historic 27-point collapse that resulted in a 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a wild-card playoff game.

Herbert, who last season passed Andrew Luck for the most passing yards through a player's first three NFL seasons, and Moore have been acquainted since shooting a commercial together last offseason.

"It's amazing how life can come full circle," Moore said. "I hadn't spent a ton of time with him outside of those couple days, but I've always watched him from afar, loved watching him play at Oregon and certainly what he has done in the NFL ... just really, really excited."

Finding a quarterbacks coach will remain a priority, Moore said, after the Chargers also fired Shane Day following the season.

Along with Herbert, the Bolts' also are scheduled to return receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler, who led the NFL in 2022 with 18 touchdowns.

"I'm just really excited to get to work with them," Moore said. "The beauty of football and the beauty of systems -- you want to build it around the players. I'm excited to figure out what they do best, how they've worked and work, and put them in the best situations to be successful."

At the outset of the search for a new offensive coordinator, Staley said he would look for a candidate who possesses leadership and could run an offensive system similar to those of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan -- which Staley further described as a marriage of the run and pass.

Last season, the Chargers called a designed pass on 68% of plays, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the Buccaneers (68.1%). The Cowboys called a designed pass on 54.6% of their plays in 2022, the sixth-lowest rate in the league. Moore said the options for his system would not be limited.

"We're going to build a 2023 L.A. Chargers offense," he said. "Will you be able to see the Air Coryell, Jason Garrett side? Absolutely. Will you see the West Coast and Mike McCarthy? Absolutely.

"We'll keep things that are in place here that Justin feels really, really good about, and then we're willing to explore."

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