Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys coaching staff expected to remain intact for 2017

Jason Garrett is expecting his coaching staff to remain intact going into next season.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli are under contract for 2017, and neither is expected to depart. Linehan turned out not to be a candidate for any head coaching vacancies.

Linehan and Marinelli were handed three-year extensions after the 2014 season, meaning they’ll be going into their last year barring off-season extensions. It also sounded as though Garrett would like to retain the rest of his assistants.

“We haven’t had any discussions about our staff, but I would anticipate that [keeping them together],” Garrett said.

Behind Linehan, the Cowboys had one of the top offenses in the NFL. They averaged 376.7 yards of total offense, fifth in the league, and produced two MVP-caliber seasons by rookies in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The offense got off to a slow start in the season-ending playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but still put up 31 points. Linehan, 53, declined comment after the game.

The defense, meanwhile, exceeded expectations under Marinelli. The Cowboys had the 14th-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 343.9 yards a game. But the most important part is they limited points, ranking fifth in the league in scoring defense (19.1).

The pass rush and takeaways also improved compared with the 2015 season. But it was a disappointing finish for a unit that couldn’t stop Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers when it mattered most.

“I don’t know if it’s about [Rodgers],” Marinelli said after Sunday’s loss. “I look at us. We weren’t good enough. I’m not going to talk about him. I’ll talk about us.”

Marinelli, 67, went on to rant when asked if it was frustrating to see what appeared to be a Super Bowl-caliber season come to an end in the fashion it did.

“I don’t talk about frustration, OK?” Marinelli said. “I’m my own man. I deal with what I deal with. I don’t talk about frustration, OK? Ask that to somebody who is a weak and soft guy.”

In the time being, the Cowboys coaches will prepare to work the Pro Bowl for the second time in three seasons. They had that “dubious distinction,” as Garrett put it, following the 2014 playoff loss to the Packers.

“It’s actually a great experience once you’re there,” Garrett said. “At some point we’ll get our eyes forward on that and we’ll put a little plan together. You get a chance to be around some of the best players in the National Football League and my experience there has been a really positive one.

“You have a healthy respect for a lot of these guys from afar and typically you get a chance to be around them for a week and you understand why they’re so good physically but also how they approach the game.”

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