New Cowboys play-caller will go with team’s strengths

Posted Saturday, May. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Scott Linehan was made available to the media Friday for first time since being hired as the Dallas Cowboys’ passing-game coordinator and play caller in January.

So let’s cut to the chase.

Is he the pass-happy, run-averse coach he’s labeled to be or will the offense feature some balance with the running of DeMarco Murray behind an offensive line that features three first-round picks?

“You start with running it effectively,” Linehan said on the first day of the rookie minicamp. “You achieve balance in the NFL by playing good football throughout three quarters, gaining that lead and then you’ve got a lead going into the fourth quarter. The teams that run the ball the best, that run the ball balanced as you say, generally are getting a lot of their damage done in that late third, early fourth quarter.

“It’s a good young front. We feel like we can line up and say, hey, if they’re going to drop guys into the box, we still feel like we’ve got the guys that can get it done. That opens everything on the outside of the field.”

Sounds good. And it appears to be an effective plan.

But if history is used as a guide, then the numbers still say that Linehan likes to pass more often than he runs. That’s been the case in each of his coaching stops as a head coach and/or offensive coordinator with Minnesota, Miami, St. Louis and the past five years in Detroit as offensive coordinator.

Linehan said it is more about personnel than personal preference. His Vikings led the league in rushing one year when they had Randy Moss and Cris Carter as receivers. The Lions ran the ball more last year than in his first four years, mainly because they finally got a quality runner in Reggie Bush.

“You just lean to your personnel,” Linehan said. “It’s goes back to the offensive line. We had that in Minnesota. You lean to where you are strong.”

The Cowboys were strong running the ball with Murray in the second half of the season last year behind an improving offensive line. Murray rushed for the third-most yards in the league over the last eight games.

“Murray can do it,” Linehan said. “I like what I see.”

Linehan also likes the Cowboys’ coaching staff and the organization, which has brought him full circle after starting his professional career here briefly as an undrafted free-agent quarterback in 1987.

He is excited about reuniting with head coach Jason Garrett, whom Linehan hired as quarterbacks coach under him in Miami in 2006.

“The Dallas Cowboys,” Linehan said when asked what intrigued him about this job. “That was the first thing. Second was getting a chance to reunite with Jason Garrett. I think so much of him.”

Although he’s taking over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, Linehan says he has no intentions of completely overhauling the offense. He plans to mesh his ideas to what the Cowboys are already doing successfully.

“How we do things in terms of our meetings, our practices, some of the language is different than it was in the past,” Garrett said. “It’s constant communication. Not only between me and Scott, but also Scott with the other staff members, just making sure everybody’s on the same page.”

And that includes Callahan.

“That’s all in the past,” Callahan said Friday, his first time speaking publicly since his demotion. “My mindset is looking toward the future, what we’re doing here with the offensive line and my role and my responsibilities now. I really don’t look back. I just keep working forward and try to do the best I can.

“I just take on the mindset that things happen for a reason. I live with that and I move on.”

Linehan said this is not a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen situation.

“Very positive. That kind of expertise in one room,” Linehan said. “To have a staff with the qualifications I feel we have is truly a strength.”

Clarence E. Hill Jr. 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
Chicago «109Final | Box
Golden State «106Final | Box
New Orleans91Final | Box
Atlanta «100
Milwaukee «104Final | Box
Dallas «106Final | Box
LA Clippers «102Final | Box
Orlando83Final | Box
Indiana «98
New York78Final | Box
Oklahoma City «105
Sacramento104Final | Box
San Antonio «112
Phoenix97Final | Box
Denver «122
Memphis «112Final | Box
Minnesota «120Final | Box
LA Lakers119
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Chicago17Final | Box
Detroit «34Gridiron Replay
Philadelphia «33Final | Box
Dallas10Gridiron Replay
Seattle «19Final | Box
San Francisco3Gridiron Replay
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Miami 8:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
NY Rangers «3Final | Box
Chicago «4Final | Box
NY Islanders2Final | Box
Washington «5
Winnipeg1Final(OT) | Box
Boston «2
Montreal1Final | Box
Buffalo «2
Detroit «5Final(SO) | Box
New Jersey4
Carolina «4Final | Box
Vancouver «5Final | Box
Ottawa2Final | Box
Florida «3
Edmonton3Final(OT) | Box
St. Louis «4
Minnesota «5Final(OT) | Box
Full Scoreboard