Scott Linehan joked that he’d need about 24 hours to discuss everything that went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys’ offense last season.
But the offensive coordinator summed it up by saying: “Our execution as an offense just needs to be better.”
That means on first down. That means on third down. That means in the red zone.
Yes, not having Tony Romo for 12 games and Dez Bryant for seven hurt the Cowboys.
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The Cowboys went from scoring the fifth-most points in 2014 to being 31st in the league in 2015. They had the seventh-most yards in 2014 and fell to 22nd in 2015.
They scored touchdowns on 33 of 51 red zone possessions in 2014 but only 20 of 45 in 2015. They went from converting third downs at a 47.3 rate in 2014 to 34.6 percent in 2015.
And the list goes on.
But Linehan isn’t going to overreact to the sharp decline in offensive production. After all, the 2014 numbers suggest they did something right.
“I don’t anticipate anything major [adjustment-wise],” Linehan said. “Obviously, we’re working to improve in some areas we fell short, so we’ll do that here in the upcoming months. We really have to get ourselves back to where we really started and where we were in training camp.
“I think we have to start by everyone looking in the mirror and saying, ‘This is what we’ve got to do individually. Then collectively as a group, and then as a team.’ So it’s pretty cut and dry that way.”
Linehan addressed other topics Thursday at the Senior Bowl:
▪ His impression of North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz: “He’s got the prototype size [6-foot-5, 230 pounds]. He’s an athlete. He’s got some sneaky quick, fast body mechanics and movement to go along with a really nice arm.”
▪ Quarterback as a need this off-season: “Well, our focus isn’t on what our needs are. We are evaluating last year, and it’s unfortunate Tony caught the injury bug. But we’re anticipating him back, full recovery and ready to go. And I was really excited for the way Kellen [Moore] was able to come in and play in his last couple of games. So we’re excited about the guys we’ve got. We’re always going to be looking at every position, including quarterback, and we’re real, real early in the evaluation prospects of that.”
Jerry Jones created a social media buzz on Wednesday, making it a point to say hello and meet briefly with Wentz.
Three backup quarterbacks combined to go 1-11 during Romo’s injury absences, leaving the Cowboys looking to improve the position, and Wentz is gaining steam as a possible fit.
That speculation only grew with Jones’ encounter with Wentz, who is on the North team roster that is coached by the Cowboys’ staff.
“It was cool,” Wentz said of meeting the Cowboys owner. “Obviously, you see a legend, icon like Jerry Jones, it’s really cool to get to meet him.
“I didn’t recognize him right away because he had his hat on, sunglasses on, he was trying to be discreet, but you all found him. So it was cool to meet him and just say ‘hey’ real quick.”
Baylor has more players than any other Big 12 school at the Senior Bowl, so it didn’t come as a surprise to see coach Art Briles walking the sidelines of Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Thursday.
Briles feels it’s a statement to how much the Baylor program has grown to become the most-represented school in the conference at the prestigious all-star event. Baylor has four players at the Senior Bowl.
“It says a lot of them as players and I think it’s a reflection a little bit on the national brand that we’ve been able to attain over the last few years,” Briles said. “It’s a good thing. It’s an exciting time for them because it’s kind of like going from high school to college, and now from college to the NFL. We’re here to help them make that transition.”