Mac Engel

Dallas Cowboys win begs question: How was Scott Linehan not fired sooner?

The Dallas Cowboys are 14 straight wins away from completing their first ever perfect regular season, and they are in this place in large part because someone asked a child to be the offensive coordinator.

No need to call CPS for a violation of child labor laws. The Cowboys will not go undefeated, and Kellen Moore is an adult who looks like he’s 8.

Watching the Cowboys after two weeks, including their 31-21 win against the Redskins on Sunday near Washington D.C., and the Kellen Moore Show is so hot it should be on Netflix.

We are watching either the natural evolution of a good, developing quarterback. Or ... former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was worse than his critics insisted. How he was not fired, or demoted, sooner is one of the more impressive feats of his long coaching career.

The Cowboys are a convincing 2-0 with wins against NFC East teams that both figure to be fighting it out for a top 10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

By this time next week, the Cowboys will be 3-0 having just defeated the Miami Dolphins out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

So is this Dak, or is this Kellen?

“I’m telling you, look at the tape and it’s the same stuff we ran last year,” tight end Blake Jarwin said. “Of course, there some little nuances you change, but you always do that. It’s still the same scheme.”

Scheme or Dak?

Dak and his offensive buddies were not exactly slicing up the air on Sunday to start the game. After the first quarter they had no points, 39 yards of offense, and Dak had thrown his first pick of the season.

By the end of the fourth quarter, however, and all parties involved looked more like the offense that gelded the New York Giants in Week 1.

He was 26-of-30 passing for 269 yards with three touchdowns, and five carries for 69 yards. His second-quarter 51-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith was a perfectly thrown ball that looked like something Troy Aikman would throw.

Dak has become a real life version of a video game. After two games, he is completing 82.3 percent of his passes for 674 yards and seven touchdowns.

And it’s not as if Dak is throwing safe, check-down passes. He is throwing the ball to any eligible Cowboys player who has two hands. Eight different receivers caught passes on Sunday.

Dak is completing his passes at a rate that would be difficult in 7-on-7, two-hand touch practices.

His 10.9 yards per pass attempt is nearly 3.5 yards better than what would be a good figure.

If there has ever been a time when he played better in consecutive games, he can’t think of it.

“We made a good run when I was at Mississippi State and I’m sure we had some good runs and things there but at this point we’re not going to sit on what we’ve done,” Dak said.

The Kellen Moore influence

The biggest visible difference in the Cowboys offense of 2019 and 2018 is the use of motion out of the receivers, and relying on play-action passes.

The Cowboys did all these things under Linehan. It was a matter of frequency. Moore’s offense is doing this ... well, more.

“He’s calling a great game,” said tight end Jason Witten, who caught a touchdown pass for the second time in as many games.

Dak also looks like a fourth-year player who knows what he is doing, and more specifically what is coming.

Through two weeks, everything about The Kellen Moore Show has exceeded all reasonable, and stupid, expectations.

It also should be stated, often, that the Cowboys have played two of the worst teams in the NFL in the first two weeks, and the league’s worst team — the Miami Dolphins — visits next week.

Whether it’s Dak or it’s Kellen, the Cowboys’ best decision of the off-season is they let Scott Linehan go.

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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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