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January 29, 2014

Hiring of Linehan reflects Cowboys' belief in their passing game, and what they think of Callahan

The Cowboys are built on the pass. It’s how they move the ball, it’s how they want to move the ball.

The hiring of Scott Linehan to be the passing game coordinator and play-caller re-emphasizes that. The Cowboys have had a ball-in-the-air mentality at Valley Ranch since the arrival of Jason Garrett to pair with Tony Romo in 2007.

It doesn’t sound like the most efficient way to get to the Super Bowl, and it hasn't done much for the Cowboys beyond a couple of division titles. But the Cowboys still think it's the way to geater riches, and they have reason to.

Eight of the past 17 Super Bowl champions have thrown the ball better than they have run it. That includes three of the past four – the 2011 Giants that owner Jerry Jones is so fond of, the 2010 Packers that won it in the Cowboys' own living room and the 2009 Saints led by former Cowboys assistant Sean Peyton.

So the Cowboys have seen it done this way, and Linehan’s pass-heavy background as offensive coordinator of the Lions, head coach of the Rams and quarterbacks coach in Minnesota gave the organization every reason to put him on staff.

Not that it impressed everybody.

Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said, “The only thing that concerns me is Linehan is not known for being a guy that’s going to run the football, and that’s kind of been a little bit of a problem with the Cowboys in the past, that they’ve got a great running back in DeMarco Murray and, I mean, I don’t know. Are they going to run the ball more or less? Who can tell? We’ll only know a year from now. But it does concern you a little bit.”

Linehan has passing-game chops: With him as quarterbacks coach, the 2004 Vikings were second in the NFL in yards and touchdown passes. And as offensive coordinator, he made the 2012 Lions the third-ranked offense in the league.

The Cowboys want his input as a fourth voice in the gameplan room.

But it is a crowded room. Already, it includes head coach Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan and quarterback Tony Romo, who owner Jerry Jones proudly entrusted with “Peyton Manning influence” last spring.

The Cowboys didn’t want to let Callahan go despite stripping him of his play-calling duties. But it’s easy to see where he ranks in the hierarchy – behind Garrett, behind Romo, behind Linehan.


How many of the past 17 Super Bowl champions can say that about their offensive coordinator?

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez


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