No offense to Scott Linehan, who is a fine coach and surely a good guy, but the Dallas Cowboys don't need another cook in their offensive kitchen.
An ESPN report from late last week suggested the Cowboys were considering hiring the former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator to call plays in 2014, which would mean that despite refusing to fire anyone on the offensive staff they'd have their third play caller in as many years.
For whatever reason, owner Jerry Jones refuses to dump head coach Jason Garrett despite the fact the Cowboys have missed the playoffs in each of his three full seasons as head coach. The offense generally performed well in 2013, but offensive line coach Bill Callahan was calling the plays.
Callahan is still on board, too, thanks presumably to that solid overall offensive ranking (Dallas had the NFL's fifth-highest-scoring offense) but in spite of the fact the Cowboys were the fourth-least balanced team in the NFL, according to TeamRankings.com. None of the teams in the bottom five in that category had winning records.
|Highest passing play percentage, 2013|
|Offense||Pass play %||Record|
|1. Atlanta Falcons||69||4-12|
|2. Cleveland Browns||68||4-12|
|3. Miami Dolphins||65||8-8|
|4. Dallas Cowboys||65||8-8|
|5. Jacksonville Jaguars||63||4-12|
That same ESPN report states that Jones backed away from hiring Norv Turner as offensive coordinator one year ago because Garrett's and Turner's offensive philosophies were too similar. But here we are a year later and they're looking at Linehan, who also shares Garrett's general offensive vision.
The two coached together in Miami in 2005, where Linehan was offensive coordinator and Garrett coached the quarterbacks.
So what exactly will Linehan bring to this offense that hasn't already been established by Garrett? The first two square pegs wouldn't fit into round holes, so instead of replacing them with round pegs, Jones is looking to acquire a third square one? I fail to see the logic.
What team needs a head coach with a heavy offensive background, a passing game coordinator and a running game coordinator? And what does it say about Garrett that they've felt the need to support him with experienced coordinator types in back-to-back offseasons? (And if this is something Garrett's pushing for, the indictment is just as extreme.)
Clearly, Jones, Garrett and Callahan don't see eye to eye on who should be doing what within the offense. Maybe Linehan is a compromise, but why is Jones going out of his way to keep everyone happy? It must have something to do with Garrett being his guy—you rarely see such blind loyalty—but it could also be that the owner/general manager is being stubborn. Maybe he's just determined to prove things can work under the staff he put in place, but he has to loosen that grip eventually.
I fear the Cowboys are, at this point, over-tweaking. They're obviously hoping to mix things up but don't seem to have the guts to make big moves. This move wouldn't awaken a tired organization. If anything, it would only add to the drama, the confusion, the overall mess that has made Dallas somewhat of a laughingstock within the NFL community the last half decade.