IRVING, Texas - The passing game was in full force in Detroit, but owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes Scott Linehan’s preference to pass with the Lions was about the offensive coordinator’s ability to adjust to the talent on his team more than anything else.
Linehan’s Lions offense finished first in passing attempts in both 2011 and 2012, throwing the majority of the time before Reggie Bush went to the team in 2013, when the balance became more even. Jones, just as head coach Jason Garrett did days earlier, alluded to Linehan’s preference to run in Minnesota a decade ago when the Vikings were among the top rushing teams in the league.
“There’s no question he’ll take, he’s done it, he did it in Minnesota, there’s no question that he’ll take his top players, and it can be in the running game as well, in the running game, he will utilize them in the running game,” Jones said. “To some degree all coaches will say that, but getting them to do it or getting it done is another thing. But he’s a proven imaginative coach, relative to using his talent, their particular skills.”
The Lions were in the bottom 10 in rushing those two seasons they finished first in passing attempts. With Bush in the mix, though, the Lions moved up toward the middle of the pack in both rushing attempts (No. 14) and rushing yards (No. 17), both of which were at least seven spots ahead of the Cowboys.
Though Linehan’s Lions never finished in the top half of the league in rushing during his tenure in Detroit, Jones believes the personnel available in Dallas could make Linehan’s offensive philosophy change and look a little more like what Linehan’s Vikings teams looked like when he was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach there from 2002-04.
“I would expect him, and by the way, (Derek) Dooley’s the same way, he was laughing about his receiver yesterday at Tennessee and he said, ‘I don’t care what you need to do in order to get him the ball, let’s get him at tailback some…just put him everywhere. He said they finally, up at Minnesota, started using him a little bit like that, because he can just do it all.
“What is neat about this staff in my mind is that Jason provides a great net, a safety net. I’m very familiar, we’re familiar, with Jason’s offensive philosophy. I know how hard he works, how articulate he is.’”