Mac Engel

By avoiding the media, Scott Linehan did himself no favors on Saturday night

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan (right) and quarterback Dak Prescott had a rough night in their 30-22 playoff loss against the L.A. Rams on Saturday night.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan (right) and quarterback Dak Prescott had a rough night in their 30-22 playoff loss against the L.A. Rams on Saturday night. Bob Booth

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is an NFL veteran who has been a head coach before, so he has to know how bad this is going to look.

He didn’t care.

After the Cowboys’ 30-22 playoff loss in Los Angeles, Linehan was on his cell phone as he walked up the ramp at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum while his colleagues and players talked to the media to explain the defeat.

After Linehan hung up the phone, I asked him if he had a second. He said he didn’t, and he walked up the ramp.

A man of this experience, and in this position, has to stop and answer a few questions, whether they are from me or someone in my position. After all, his players did. His fellow assistants on the other side, namely defensive coordinators Kris Richard and Rod Marinelli, did.

It’s not about what Linehan would say, because none of his words could possibly satiate irate Dallas Cowboys’ fans. As a leader of the offense, he just has to stand and take it for two to three minutes. That’s part of the job.

Linehan is a nice, decent guy who is good at his job, but to take such a path after such a game is a terrible call.

It looks cowardly, and unprofessional. Don’t make the rest of the team do it while you duck out.

After Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parker missed the potential game-winning field goal in the playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week in Chicago, he stood there in front of the media for a few minutes. It’s simply part of the job.

Of course Linehan would not want to stop to discuss how his offense was pushed and shoved around by the Rams. Of course he would not want to answer why some of the motion and creativity that was present in the playoff win over the Seahawks looked absent against the Rams.

Of course Linehan did not want to explain the play call to run Ezekiel Elliott right into the middle of the Rams’ defense on 4th-and-1 to start the fourth quarter when it was a one-score game.

Of course he would not want to answer a question why the quarterback he wanted to run the ball didn’t at all until just under six minutes remained in the game.

In defense of Scott Linehan, his offensive line was manhandled. When your line is beaten up so routinely and badly, your play calling changes. The Rams sold out to stop Elliott, and the Cowboys either did not, or could not, adjust well enough.

Zeke ran the ball 20 times for 47 yards. Dak Prescott threw for 266 yards and a touchdown, but many of his yards came after the team fell behind 23-7 in the third quarter.

The Rams put it on the Cowboys’ passing game, and in the first half, other than one throw to Amari Cooper, it could not do it. The Cowboys’ passing game could not keep pace with the Rams’ running game.

In defense of Linehan, the Cowboys actually scored more on Saturday night than they did on average during the regular season; they averaged 21.2 points during the regular season, and they scored 22 against the Rams.

In defense of Linehan, the Cowboys were simply beaten by a better team on their field. Good teams do that to opponents.

In defense of Linehan and his offense, the Cowboys’ defense was atrocious on Saturday night.

Now here is Linehan’s reality: The Cowboys just lost in the divisional round again, and while they like their core, and much of their team, they will not remain status quo.

The Cowboys are going to change something, and Linehan is an easy candidate to go. He knows it, even though his contract does not expire until after the 2019 season.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is a Scott Linehan fan, and he used some capital with the boss man, Jerry Jones, to bring Linehan to the Cowboys in 2014 as the passing game’s coordinator.

But the overall weakness of the 2018 Dallas Cowboys is Scott Linehan’s department.

Ultimately, he is not responsible for all of it but he is accountable.

And for him to put it on everyone else to account for it after the season-ending loss was a terrible play call.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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