Scott Linehan is in his 28th season as a football coach, 15th season in the NFL and third with the Dallas Cowboys after arriving in 2014 as the club’s passing game coordinator. Following a successful first season calling offensive plays, Linehan was promoted to offensive coordinator and rewarded with a three-year extension. Of his 27 years of coaching football, terms as an offensive coordinator or head coach make up 21 years on Linehan’s resume.
Linehan oversaw an offense in 2015 that needed to utilize a more creative approach in the wake of injuries to two key players, quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Dallas employed four quarterbacks over the course of 16 games, with Brandon Weeden (three starts), Matt Cassel (seven) and Kellen Moore (two) trying to lead an offense sans Romo and Bryant for the majority of the season. Three Cowboys on offense made the Pro Bowl, all along the offensive line - Tackle Tyron Smith, Center Travis Frederick and Guard Zack Martin - as the group continued to be a dominant force for the team. The Cowboys rushing attack was a bright spot for the unit, as the team racked up 1,890 yards on the ground (ninth), and combined with the 2014 rushing total of 2,354 yards, gave the Cowboys their highest total (4,244) in back-to-back seasons since the team gained 4,282 rushing yards over the 1992-93 seasons. Darren McFadden led all Cowboys running backs with 1,089 yards and a 4.6 average, fourth and 14th league wide, respectively. Jason Witten continued to be Mr. Reliable, leading the team for the eighth time in his career with 77 catches. Terrance Williams had a team-high 840 receiving yards and topped 16 yards-per-catch for the third-consecutive season to start his career, a feat only Mike Wallace, and Kenny Britt have accomplished this century. The Cowboys also utilized Swiss Army knife receiver Lucky Whitehead in a variety of packages in the screen game and on the ground, as the rookie tallied 107 rushing yards on 10 attempts, the second-highest total by a receiver in Cowboys history.
Linehan called an offense that helped the 2014 Cowboys to an NFL-best tying 12-4 record, the club’s 22nd Division title - 18th NFC East title - 31st postseason appearance and 34th playoff win. Along the way, the team had three players lead the league and establish single-season club records as DeMarco Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and earned 2014 Offensive Player of the year honors, Dez Bryant caught 16 touchdown passes and Tony Romo completed 69.9% of his passes and had a 113.2 quarterback rating. The Dallas offense as a whole was second in the league in rushing yards (2,354); its highest finish since placing second in 2008. For the season, the Dallas offense totaled 6,138 yards for the second-highest figure in franchise history. Dallas also generated 467 points for the second-most points scored in a season in franchise history. The club had seven offensive players selected to the Pro Bowl, including two first-timers (Frederick and rookie Martin). Perennial Pro Bowler Witten earned his 10th trip, Romo made his fourth and Bryant, Murray and Tyron Smith each made their second. Martin, the club’s first round pick in 2014, became the first rookie in club history to start every game at right guard, the fourth offensive line rookie and 14th overall rookie to notch starts in every game of his first season. He was also the only offensive rookie in the NFL in 2014 to make the Pro Bowl, the first rookie offensive lineman in team history to make the game and was named to the AP All-Pro team - the only rookie in the NFL in 2014 and the third rookie in club history to receive the honor.
For five seasons, Linehan served as the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator (2009-13). In 2013 his Lions offense finished the season sixth in the NFL in total yards (6,274) and third in passing yards (4,482). Helping bolster those numbers was Calvin Johnson, who finished the season with 1,492 receiving yards - fourth in team history - including a club single-game record (second all-time in the NFL) 329 yards. Under Linehan’s guidance, Johnson established the club record for yards in a season with 1,964 (2012) while also finishing 2011 third in team history with 1,681 yards. Over those same three seasons, Matthew Stafford took the top-three spots in team history for passing yards with 5,038 (2011), 4,967 (2012) and 4,650 (2013). Johnson’s 5,137 receiving yards over that three-year span was tops in the league and Stafford’s 14,655 three-season passing yards total was second (Drew Brees, 15,815). From 2010-13, the Lions offense amassed 18,033 passing yards (second in the NFL) and 24,574 total yards (fourth).
In 2012 Linehan’s offense set a club record with 6,540 total yards (third in the league) and net passing yards 4,927 (second). In finishing third in total offense, it marked the highest finish for Detroit since 1997 (second). Three of the club’s all-time single-game marks for total offense were reached that year. The Lions ground attack rushed for 17 touchdowns, a six-touchdown improvement from 2011.
Linehan’s charges in 2011 scored 474 points to set a team record and finish fourth in the league. In addition to establishing the club record for passing yards in a season, Stafford threw a franchise-best 41 touchdowns while topping team all-time charts for completion percentage (63.5) and passer rating (97.2). His 5,000-yard season was fourth in NFL history, and he was one-of-three NFL quarterbacks to finish the season in the top-five of all six major passing categories.
In Linehan’s second season in Detroit (2010), the Lions were one of just seven teams to improve at least nine spots in total offense from the previous season (26th to 17th), and in the passing game, the franchise was just one-of-three to improve by nine spots (21st to 12th). Overall, Detroit had the league’s fourth-most improved offense, gaining 639 more yards than in 2009.
Upon arriving in Detroit (2009), Linehan was charged with directing the club’s offense, while also helping develop the squad’s young talent, specifically working with the league’s top overall draft pick in Stafford. Despite struggling through injuries, missing six games, Stafford finished his rookie campaign near the top of almost every franchise rookie passing record, placing first in touchdowns (13) and second in passing yards (2,267), completions (201) and completion percentage (54.1).
Prior to landing in Detroit, Linehan spent three seasons (2006-08) as the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. Linehan helped establish St. Louis’ rushing attack, utilizing Stephen Jackson, whose 346 carries in 2006 were the most by a Rams player in 20 seasons. Jackson’s 1,528 rushing yards were third in the NFC while his 105 first downs and 2,334 all-purpose yards were tops in the NFL to earn his first career Pro Bowl selection. Not just limited to the Rams running game, Marc Bulger flourished under Linehan’s offense, passing for a career-best 4,301 in 2006 with 24 touchdowns (second in Rams history). Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce both finished 2006 with 1,000-plus yards and combined for 167 catches.
In 2005 Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, helping improve the total offensive output from 4,960 yards (29th) in 2004 to 5,198 (12th) in 2005. Dolphins rushers Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams teamed for 1,650 yards and 10 touchdowns. Receiver Chris Chambers earned his first Pro Bowl appearance, catching 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns that season.
Linehan made his NFL coaching debut in 2002 with the Minnesota Vikings where he was the club’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2002-04). His time with Minnesota paid dividends for the club as the franchise had some of its best offensive outputs in franchise history. The club finished 2002 fourth in team history (second at that point) with 6,192 yards, followed by 2003’s mark of 6,294 yards, which was the club record at season’s end. Linehan’s 2003 number was trumped by his 2004 total of 6,339, which still stands as the franchise single-season record. Both Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper excelled in Linehan’s offense as Moss started 45 games over Linehan’s three years and earned two trips to the Pro Bowl (2002-03). In 2002 Moss’ 111 catches for 1,632 yards were a personal-best, and he tied a then career-best in 2003 with 17 touchdowns. Culpepper’s 2004 season saw him make his second trip to the Pro Bowl while finishing with the then fourth-highest passer rating in league history (110.9) while leading the league with personal-bests in 4,717 passing yards, 8.6 yard-per-play average and 39 touchdowns. After scoring 290 points in 2001, Linehan improved the club’s figures to 390 (2002), 416 (2003) and 405 (2004). Again, not limited to the passing game, Linehan improved the Viking rushing output from 1,609 yards and 4.3-yard average in 2001 to a league-best 2,507 yards and 5.3 average in 2002. In 2003 Linehan tapped into a trio of running backs, utilizing Bennett, Onterio Smith and Moe Williams to finish fourth in the NFL with 2,343 yards.
Before coming to the NFL, Linehan coached collegiately for 13 years for teams that played in seven bowl games and won five conference titles. Five of Linehan’s quarterbacks were drafted by NFL Teams - Chris Redman and Dave Ragone (Louisville) Brock Huard and Marques Tuiasosopo (Washington) and Doug Nussmeier (Idaho).
Linehan was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Louisville (1999-01), helping the school to three bowl berths and consecutive Conference USA championships - the first school in conference history to accomplish the feat. In each of his three seasons, one of his quarterbacks earned Conference Player of the Year honors.
Linehan spent five seasons at the University of Washington (1994-98), advancing to four bowl games and winning the 1995 Pac-10 title. He spent four seasons at his alma mater, Idaho, serving as wide receivers coach (1989-90) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks (1992-93). Sandwiched between his two stints at Idaho was a one-year stop as the quarterbacks coach for UNLV.
Linehan was a quarterback for Dennis Erickson at Idaho (1982-86), winning the Big Sky Championship in 1985 and earning Division I-AA playoff appearances three straight times (1984-86). He signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1987 as a rookie free agent, but a shoulder injury ended his playing career.
Linehan and his wife, Kristen, have three sons, Matthew, Michael and Marcus.