Newly hired Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore speaks about his vision for the offense.
It didn’t take long for Kellen Moore to find a new coaching gig after he and his former team – the Dallas Cowboys – decided to mutually part ways.
Moore, the former offensive play-caller of the Cowboys, interviewed for the Chargers’ vacant offensive coordinator position less than 24 hours after moving on from Dallas.
One day later, Moore was announced the new offensive coordinator of the Chargers.
“As we went through the process, sometimes change can be really good for all of us, and I felt like I was in that space,” Moore said, explaining what led to his departure from the Cowboys. “It works for both sides. I think that it’s an awesome opportunity for Dallas, and an awesome opportunity for me. I’m certainly really, really excited about how this thing all played out.”
Moore left the Cowboys looking for change, and the Chargers offense is seeking the same. Particularly, the way in which they run the ball. Head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco emphasized at their end-of-season press conference their desire of wanting to be more efficient in the run game.
“The offenses that I think are the most challenging to defend are the ones that put a lot of pressure on you every snap, in terms of marrying the run game to the pass game, putting a lot of pressure on you with personnel groupings, pace, motion, and being able to get the explosions consistently,” Staley said. “I want to have an offense that mirrors our defense because I think that those are the types of organizations, those are the type of football teams, who are consistent, game-in and game-out, season-in and season-out.”
Last year, the Chargers finished the season ranking 30th in rushing, averaging 89.6 rush yards per game. Without being able to find any consistency in running the ball, the Chargers became very pass-reliant, which at times made them predictable for opposing defenses.
As Staley and Telesco conducted their pursuit for the team’s new offensive play-caller, it’s hard to imagine that Moore’s proven success of establishing a proficient running game didn’t play a major component in him getting the job.
Moore utilized a dual-combination of rushers, headlined by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Moore’s running game finished last season ranking ninth, averaging 135 rushing yards per game.
With the Chargers, Moore will inherit Austin Ekeler, the touchdown leader in each of the past two seasons. Ekeler is about as versatile of a running back as they come, threatening defenses with his pass-catching contributions in addition to what he provides as a rusher.
“As we build this thing, certainly, the run game and the play-action pass and the movements on first- and second-down, when those two are in sync, and the presentations are similar, it puts defenses in conflict,” Moore said of his vision for the offense. “I think that’s something that we’re really excited about building here and developing, certainly in the first- and second- down game.
“It will allow you to be more aggressive, to get the ball downfield. It certainly doesn’t mean that you go crazy with it, but you can build those marriages. We all know that the top offenses in this league, the beauty is when those two things are in sync.”
At quarterback, Moore will get his hands on one of the game’s premier passers who he began building a relationship with last summer. Moore and Justin Herbert filmed a commercial for an auto dealership last offseason, spending a few days with one another.
As Moore walks into the drivers seat for an offense that includes a quarterback of Herbert’s caliber – one that’s etched his name in the record books for the most passing yards through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history – he hopes to design the offense with several aspects he’s picked up along the way of his playing and coaching career.
“From an offensive perspective, you take bits and pieces from everyone, and I think that’s the beauty of it,” Moore said of the beliefs that go into his offensive system. “We’re going to build a 2023 L.A. Chargers offense. Will you be able to see the Air Coryell, Jason Garrett side? Absolutely. Will you see the West Coast, Mike McCarthy side? Absolutely. We’ll keep things that are in place here that Justin feels really, really good about. Then, we’re willing to explore.”
Throughout the 2022 season, the Chargers struggled to manufacture explosive plays downfield. When Jalen Guyton tore his ACL in Week 3, that left Mike Williams as the only player on the roster to challenge defenses in the deep part of the field. When asked Wednesday how he values speed at the wide receiver position, Moore added that it’s a key element to have at your disposal.
“Speed, you can’t coach it. Speed is very special,” he said. “Certainly, you want some of that. Every guy doesn’t need it, there are plenty of ways to play in football, but, certainly, when you do have it, it’s a nice little advantage to be able to utilize.”
The Chargers haven’t held an offensive meeting yet since Moore has joined the coaching staff, but another crucial development will be getting the young offensive line up to speed.
“Certainly, there has been a lot invested there from a youth standpoint,” Moore said. “Tons of younger players have had an opportunity to play. I’m excited to just see those guys continue to develop.”
The Chargers’ offensive line play was up-and-down for most of the year. After limiting opponents to the fewest sacks in the NFL across the first 10 weeks, the sack total for the second half of the year sky-rocketed towards the top of the league.
They also struggled to get push off the ball, which played into their deficiencies when trying to establish a running game. As a team, the Chargers recorded a league-worst 45.7 run blocking grade, according to the metics of Pro Football Focus.
Certainly, the Chargers have the personnel to become one of the top offenses in the league. Just a year ago they ranked top five across several statistical categories. But to return to form, Moore will be tasked with igniting the run game in an attempt to match the pass game.
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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.
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