INDIANAPOLIS– Head coach Jason Garrett doesn't believe Scott Linehan's recent penchant for passing is an indication the Cowboys won't run the ball this year.
Garrett pointed back before Linehan's days as the Lions offensive coordinator, the Rams head coach and the Dolphins offensive coordinator to a time when Linehan's offense demonstrated a strong belief and dedication to the run.
"Scott's been around teams that have run the ball really well," Garrett said. "If you look at his track record back to Minnesota, they were a top five rushing team."
Linehan was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach in Minnesota from 2002-04, and the Vikings finished in the top 10 in rushing attempts and the top five in rushing yards two of those three seasons.
"All those years when they had Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, they always ran the ball very, very well," Garrett said. "You like to get to a point where you can do that, where you have that kind of balance. You can be really productive in the passing game, but you can control the game by running the football."
The Cowboys were criticized last year for finishing in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing attempts despite finishing in the top 10 in average per rushing attempt. Bill Callahan has subsequently been removed as the play-caller in favor of Linehan, whose offenses have also favored the pass in recent years. [embedded_ad]
The Lions finished 24th in the league or worse in rushing attempts from 2009-12 under Linehan before jumping to 14th in the offensive coordinator's final and most recent season in Detroit. Linehan's Rams finished 22nd or worse in rushing attempts each year from 2006-08 when he was the head coach. The Dolphins were 17th in rushing attempts Linehan's one season as offensive coordinator in Miami in 2005, when he teamed with Garrett.
But when Linehan was in Minnesota prior to that, the Vikings dedicated themselves to the running game the first two seasons to be among the league's best before falling back to 28th in rushing attempts in 2004, which was Linehan's last year with the Vikings.
Garrett said numerous times last season that the Cowboys have to run it more and run it better, and he reiterated those sentiments Thursday. He said he believes the Cowboys can find balance with Linehan after a strong showing from the new-look offensive line last year, and he said the coaches have to trust that line, play to it and allow the linemen a chance to control the line of scrimmage.
"I feel like the addition of Travis Frederick and some of the other young guys on the offensive line last year allowed us to run the ball better than we have in recent years," Garrett said. "We're stronger up front than we've been in the last few years, and hopefully we can continue to add to that, control the line of scrimmage more. The best teams in the league are able to do that, and we're hoping to be able to do that, to have the kind of balance we want for our team."
2005 - 17
Rams head coach
2006 - 23
2007 - 24
2008 - 22
2009 - 24
2010 - 24
2011 - 31
2012 - 25
2013 - 14