DC Dan Quinn is staying with Dallas Cowboys, but OC Kellen Moore is no lock to return

Ron Jenkins/AP

While major changes are afoot for the Dallas Cowboys heading into offseason after Sunday’s season-ending loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, their best hope of possibly taking the next step in 2023 came with announcement that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will return.

Quinn, who was a finalist for head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, took his name out the running and told coach Mike McCarthy he was coming back to Dallas on Thursday.

“We’re excited to have Dan Quinn back,” McCarthy said. “Gives us continuity. Definitely what we accomplished the past two years, buiding off that. I can’t tell you how thankful I am. Dan is in the position to be selective and I’m excited about the decision. This is big for us.”

Under the Quinn, the Cowboys defense led the NFL in turnovers in in 2021 and 2022, the first team to do since the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s.

Quinn return gives the Cowboys some stability and consistency is what is setting up as an offseason change.

McCarthy let go six coaches on Wednesday and is in the process of evaluating the futures of several more, including offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was a finalist for the Carolina Panthers coaching job that went to Frank Reich.

McCarthy was asked several times if Moore was going to return as offensive coordinator and play caller. He continually declined to answer.

He said he plans to meet with Moore on Friday and continue to evaluate him along with the rest of the staff

“I really don’t want to play this game today,’’ McCarthy said. “It’s been a long couple of days. Kellen Moore, just like the rest of the coaches, will be evaluated. Every coach will be evaluated. The evaluation, it takes more than one day.”

Moore has served as the team’s offensive coordinator for four seasons, keeping the job after McCarthy become the head coach in 2020. With Moore calling the plays, the Cowboys twice ranked first in yards (2019, 2021) and once ranked first in points (2021). They were 11th in yards and fourth in points this season, while quarterback Dak Prescott had his worst statistical season, tossing a career-high 15 interceptions.

The Cowboys offense scored just 12 points in the playoff loss to the 49ers.

The six coaches McCarthy parted ways with on Wednesday, included running backs coach Skip Peete, senior defensive assistant/linebacker coach George Edwards, offensive line coach Joe Philbin, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett, assistant head coach Rob Davis and quality control analytics coach Kyle Valero.

McCarthy said the decision were about streamlining the staff as well as production.

The Cowboys wouldn’t be making these moves if they were still playing, McCarthy said.

“You’ve got to look at change, adjustments and emphasis each and every year,” McCarthy said. “This was something that was really, really being discussed as early as last year and it has more to do with definition and design of your staff, philosophical believes, economic structure, all of those things that go into it. You’re just taking a step back. This was more about change that we felt needed to happen.

“We did not change hardly at all from last year to this year, but the reality from a performance perspective is we’re 12-5 for two years in a row. So, how are we going to move forward. There’s going to be change.”