Mr. Blitz Beater
New Birds OC Kellen Moore Has Answers
Plenty of intrigue surrounds the Eagles’ hiring of new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to replace the fired Brian Johnson after the team’s historic collapse in 2023.
Moore, a former Boise State quarterback, edged former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to become Nick Sirianni’s new play caller and offensive architect.
Moore, who played one season with the Cowboys, was Dallas’ offensive coordinator from 2019-2022 – producing two top-ranked offenses – but was fired when Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy wanted to go in a different direction with the offense and assume play calling.
Moore quickly became offensive coordinator of the Chargers, but Chargers coach Brandon Staley was fired before the end of the 2023 season and the team mostly cleaned house with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, with Moore also on the way out.
This analytics-based story on Moore’s results as an offensive coordinator will give a glimpse of what he brings to an Eagles offense that lost its balance and flow in the second half of the 2023 season.
Let’s start with a look at how Moore’s offenses have performed when compared to the league average.
In terms of points scored, Moore’s offenses have outperformed the league average in every season except for 2020. That year, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sustained a season-ending ankle injury after just five games, leaving Andy Dalton (11 starts) and even Ben DiNucci (one start), and Garrett Gilbert (one start) to take the reins.
Overall, Moore’s offense outperformed the Eagles’ offense in every season except for 2022 – the Eagles’ Super Bowl season – and 2023, as the Chargers were besieged with injuries on offense, including to Pro Bowl wideouts Mike Williams and Keenan Allen along with franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.
Eagles fans are quick to vocalize their desires for the Eagles to “run the ball.”
The team actually ran at a higher rate than league average from 2021-2023. Moore’s track record is passing, as his offense threw more frequently than the Eagles did from 2021-2023.
Let’s look at pass-rate numbers that compare Moore’s offense against the Eagles and against the league average.
The Eagles, under coach Doug Pederson, passed more than average in 2019 and 2020, but ran more than average in 2021-2023, with Sirianni as head coach.
Moore only ran more than league average in 2019 and 2022, passing higher than average in 2020, 2021, and 2023.
He also passed more than the Eagles did from 2021-2023, although 2023 is likely an outlier as the Chargers often played from behind, forcing them into a pass-heavy attack.
Based on this data, Eagles fans can likely expect more running plays than league average, but more pass plays than what the Eagles have shown under Sirianni.
Handling The Blitz
Moore will be asked to bring much-needed changes to the Eagles’ offensive philosophy, as Sirianni has said the new offensive coordinator will have near total autonomy.
Moore’s offense typically features pre-snap motion, which the Eagles didn’t do much in Sirianni’s first three seasons.
Moore’s resume also shows the Eagles should be able to handle the blitz better than the Eagles did in 2023.
Data shows Moore likes to take deep shots occasionally against the blitz, but going deep against pressure isn’t his main objective. Moore implements high-completion hot reads and other answers for his quarterbacks against the blitz.
Let’s look at how Prescott handled the blitz from 2019-2022, how Herbert handled the blitz in 2023, and compare that data to how the Eagles (with Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts) have handled the blitz in that same time period.
We decided to include the past five years – spanning the Pederson and Sirianni eras – to showcase what Eagles fans can expect from Moore’s offense in comparison to what they’ve seen from their own house.
Overall, the data box shows that Moore’s offense has completed a higher percentage of passes against the blitz in four out of five seasons (including all three Sirianni seasons) and produced more yards per attempt against the blitz in every season except for 2021.
– Sam Finkel is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com who focuses on analytics.