The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a dreadful performance and former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would like to deliver some payback.
Moore now runs the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense after having the keys to the Dallas attack the previous four seasons. He’ll look to keep the scoreboard busy when the Chargers (2-2) host the Cowboys (3-2) on the Monday Night Football stage at Inglewood, Calif.
Moore was pushed out the door by Dallas coach Mike McCarthy after last season. There was a falloff in 2022 after Moore’s offense produced NFL-best figures of 31.2 points and 407 yards per game in 2021.
Moore maintains he harbors no hard feelings. He was a backup quarterback for the Cowboys from 2015-17 before serving in a coaching role the next five seasons, the last four as offensive coordinator.
“I spent eight years there so there’s a lot of relationships you love and appreciate there, a lot of people you’re close to and you’ll be close to for a long time,” Moore said. “It’ll be fun to see all those people.”
The revenge matchup comes after Dallas was walloped 42-10 by the host San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night. The Cowboys allowed a total of 41 points over their first four games before they had no answers against the 49ers.
“I’m pretty sure (Moore) wants to go out there and put it on us, but you’ve got to put on some perspective for what we just went through on Sunday and how we’re champing at the bit to get out there and get out next game, on the road, so we can kind of just get this taste out of our mouths,” Dallas safety Jayron Kearse said.
“We just went out there (against the 49ers) and had an all-time stinker for what this defense is about, and we’re ready to go out there and play against somebody as well. So I’m pretty sure he’s ready for it and we’re ready for it as well.”
There certainly won’t be any secrets after Kearse, star linebacker Micah Parsons and other Dallas defenders regularly practiced against Moore’s offense.
“It’s not uncommon in the league to have matchups where both sides know each other a little bit,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said.
McCarthy now calls the offensive plays for Dallas, and the club had a problematic night against San Francisco. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw three interceptions as the Cowboys totaled just 197 yards on offense and eight first downs.
“Continuity and consistency is obviously what we’re focused on,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “No. 1, you have to score points in this league.”
Dallas ranks eighth in scoring (26.8 points per game), just behind the Chargers (27.5). Los Angeles is fifth in total offense (388.8 yards per game) and the Cowboys are 17th (327.4).
The Chargers, who had a bye in Week 5, will get a boost Monday when standout running back Austin Ekeler returns after a three-game absence due to a sprained right ankle. Ekeler was hurt in Week 1 when he racked up 164 scrimmage yards (117 rushing, 47 receiving) in a 36-34 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
“I feel really good,” said Ekeler, who was removed from the team’s injury report on Saturday. “I felt like I probably could’ve played during the bye week if I had a game then.”
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert practiced Thursday and will play with a fractured left middle finger, an injury that occurred in a 24-17 home victory over the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 1. He has passed for 1,106 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
Los Angeles also will have star safety Derwin James Jr. (hamstring) after he was sidelined against the Raiders. He practiced in full on Thursday.
Pass rusher Joey Bosa (hamstring/toe) sat out practice Thursday and Friday but returned Saturday (limited). He missed the game against the Raiders. He is listed as questionable for Monday’s game but reportedly will play. Also questionable are tight end Donald Parham Jr. (wrist) and defensive lineman Nick Williams (back). Safety Alohi Gilman (heel) and cornerback Deane Leonard (hamstring) are listed as doubtful.
Dallas outside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) will be placed on injured reserve sometime before Monday’s game, McCarthy said. In addition, special teams ace C.J. Goodwin (pectoral) told reporters that he will be sidelined for four to six weeks. Both players were hurt against San Francisco.
Standout running back Tony Pollard (shoulder) practiced in full on Friday and Saturday and is set to play. So is returner/receiver KaVontae Turpin (ankle).
Dallas safety Juanyeh Thomas (hamstring) is doubtful, while guard Chuma Edoga (illness) is questionable.