IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff answers what to expect with Scott Linehan in his first year as the Cowboys' new offensive play-caller after moving from Detroit.
10) What changes with Scott Linehan as the play-caller?
Rowan Kavner: Don't expect to see an entirely different offense, but there should be some nuances unique to Linehan, who knows what it's like to have a star receiver. That should help out with Dez Bryant, who's already talked about moving around more in formations. I think Linehan will vary looks for defenses, moving players into spots we haven't seen them much before. That goes for receivers and running backs, who could end up lining up as receivers. That could help out Lance Dunbar, who should be able to thrive with Linehan. The play-caller did a good job last year of utilizing Joique Bell, Reggie Bush's backup, who had talent and got to use it despite being behind the star. I expect the same for Dunbar. Linehan should find creative ways to get his playmakers more involved. There shouldn't be games where Bryant gets only a couple targets, and the Cowboys need to do a better job sticking with what's working.
David Helman: Probably not a lot, when you consider Linehan's close relationship with Jason Garrett and their similarities in scheme. People love to harp on Linehan being pass-happy, but I think that's more of a byproduct of him working with the league's best receiver in Calvin Johnson and a quarterback with a rocket arm in Matt Stafford. I think Linehan knows how to get the ball to his most dangerous weapons, as evidenced by Johnson's fantastic success during the past few years. Not to mention, in Linehan's only year of working with Reggie Bush, the speedster logged a 1,000-yard rushing season and a 54-catch, 500-yard receiving season. My main expectation for Linehan is that he's not going to lose sight of his top playmakers, as was often the case for Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.
Nick Eatman: That's a tricky question because obviously some change is needed, but not a whole lot. That's why it was important to bring in someone who at least shares the philosophies of Garrett when it comes to the offense. The key will be finding ways to keep the same structure of the offense that these guys have learned over the years, but also finding ways to add wrinkles. As for specific changes, I do think you'll see a lot of Lance Dunbar in the Reggie Bush role. I think you'll see Dez Bryant not only in the slot more to open up ways to get him in the ball, but they're going to find ways to keep Cole Beasley on the field, too. If Beasley and Dez can work the middle more, it should open up deep ball for Terrance Williams, Dez and perhaps Devin Street. [embedded_ad]
Bryan Broaddus: I don't believe the personnel groups will change all that much from what we have seen from Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan in the past few years. I know it's a small sample size from what we have been able to observe in these OTA and minicamp practices but it appears that Linehan is interested in creating more opportunities for players such as Dez Bryant not only on the outside but out of the slot as well. He likes to spread the defense out across the field then attack it in the middle. There are vertical routes on the outside but in combination with inside ones as well giving the quarterback a simple throw if things happen to be covered. He appears to be very interested in using these tight ends and running backs in flexed or receiving position. There will be times this season where you will see DeMarco Murray split wide as a receiver or in the slot and the ball going to him. Things that Garrett has talked about doing in the past, but now finally executing.