Gut Feeling: The Linehan Decision; What’s Next?

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On Friday, the Cowboys announced that Scott Linehan will no longer be the offensive coordinator. There wasn’t a press release, but just a statement from Jason Garrett, who called it a “mutual decision” for both parties.

The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com each offered their opinion on the decision and perhaps some insight on what the Cowboys might do moving forward.

Lindsay Draper: After winning the division in 3 of the last 5 seasons, the offense will be going in a new direction. All I can say is, I hope the next move works out favorably for the pieces on this offense. Because despite the frustrating feeling that the Cowboys were not living up to their full potential at times, you can’t deny they had some strong successes as well.

David Helman: This news isn’t surprising, so I didn’t need to spend a ton of time processing it. My big question now is: where do the Cowboys go? This is unfamiliar territory, given how long it’s been since the Cowboys changed out a coordinator. A lot of the big hirings have already been made in this coaching cycle, so I’m not convinced there’s a ton of amazing outside candidates. Perhaps the staffs working in the AFC and NFC titles games have a promising prospect. Kansas City quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka comes to mind, as does New Orleans quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi. Maybe Todd Haley would be interested in returning? I have no idea. To be completely honest, I won’t be surprised at all if Jason Garrett decides to fill the role from within. Doug Nussmeier has been an offensive coordinator at some of the biggest college programs in the country, including Alabama, and he’s already on staff. In a situation where there’s not an obvious replacement, that’s a decision that’d make a lot of sense.

Rob Phillips: Quick, name one major improvement that needs to take place for the Cowboys to take a step forward in 2019. Ask most people who follow this team and I bet you get a lot of this answer in some form: “Score more points.” The NFL’s four highest-scoring teams are the four playoff teams left. Overall, Scott Linehan had a very positive impact on a team that won three division titles in five years. He also helped Dak Prescott make a smooth transition to the NFL. I hope that doesn’t get lost here. But while the offense looked more efficient since Amari Cooper’s arrival, they averaged roughly 22 points in those final 11 games. Clearly the goal is to ratchet that up in 2019.

Nick Eatman: I’ve said this plenty of times over the last two months and I’ll say it again here – Scott Linehan and Dak Prescott just weren’t good for each other. And if you’re keeping one, sure you go with the young, talented QB who already has 33 games in three years. But to me, this just wasn’t a great marriage because Dak needed an offensive system that allows me to utilize his running game more. And yeah, you can say that it was Scott’s play-calling that allowed Dak to win those games, but let’s face it, when the defensive coordinators forced this team to have to pass, the Cowboys just couldn’t do it. Dak needs a play-caller that won’t shy away from the run. And Linehan needed a quarterback that is more accurate. He schemed some nice plays that just weren’t executed for whatever reason. Let’s not forget Linehan got here to run a system for Romo and it was really good in 2014 and that’s the only time we got to see that pairing. So the fact that it went this long is actually a bit surprising. I think this move will be good for the Cowboys if they can get a play-caller who will emphasize Dak’s mobility a little more.

Bryan Broaddus: Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that Scott Linehan was removed as the offensive coordinator. With Jerry and Stephen Jones coming out this week and saying that there needs to be improvement with the offense, something had to be done. I came out strong saying that I would have kept the staff together and then made the clean sweep if things didn’t work out. I don’t know what the future is going to hold now. Does Doug Nussmeier get the job or does Garrett look to the outside? I feel like Nussmeier is going to get this job with some imput from Garrett and the other staff members. Nussmeier will give Garrett what he wants: an understanding of the offense with a few more wrinkles. Coaches don’t like change and this route I believe will be give Jason Garrett the most comfort.

Mickey Spagnola: So, I’m surprised but not surprised the Cowboys have decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, especially since this offense made great strides the second half of the season. And before any of us can make a proper assessment of this move, we all have to know what’s the next move. Are the Cowboys bringing in a stranger from outside, and with Jason Garrett heading into the last year of his contract that would be unfair if his fate is tied to a first-time offensive coordinator? Or does Cowboys owner Jerry Jones think this Cowboys offense would be in better hands with Garrett calling the plays, then hiring or promoting an assistant to be more of the day-to-day coordinator, sort of the way it was when he first became the head coach? That sure has occurred to me. Because if you look around the league, and see who these teams hiring new OCs, the conventional way, are hiring, it’s not like the Cowboys have missed out of some big opportunities. Lot of retreads out there. Maybe Jerry has something up his sleeve. Next move qualifies this move.

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