IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – In a move that suggests an authority grab by head coach Jason Garrett and disgruntlement with offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, the Cowboys on Tuesday arranged to hire Scott Linehan for a play calling role in Dallas.
“He spent the day with coaches at Valley Ranch,” a source tells me. “Everything is in place.”
Linehan, the former Lions offensive coordinator and former Rams head coach, will join the staff in a way that can allows Callahan to stay on as offensive-line coach or “run-game coordinator.’’ But serving as the overall offensive coordinator/playcaller is the issue here – the often convoluted and sometimes comical issue that:
– Saw Garrett reluctantly hand the reins to Callahan a year ago (at the urging of owner Jerry Jones) after months of public deflections and denials.
– Caused enough in-house conflict late in the season that roles were altered so much that it became clear – again, despite denials – that Garrett had re-claimed some of the duties.
– Now there is a sort of “pretzel logic’’ in the way the team’s organizational chart flows (or does not flow).
That is being fixed in part by the hiring of Linehan and if Callahan (who like Garrett and most of the staff has one year remaining on his contract) is either re-assigned or allowed to depart. Sources tell us Jones has no desire to push Callahan but would permit him to jump; one report had Callahan already trying to line up a job with the Browns before the Linehan hire was official.
Does this “fix’’ Dallas’ offense? Coaching hires don’t really work that automatically. Linehan, a former Idaho quarterback who was signed in 1987 as an undrafted free agent for the Cowboys training camp, has been a pass-heavy play-caller in Miami, Minnesota and Detroit. Maybe that’s a matter of personnel: His Lions in the last three years have ranked sixth, third and fifth in NFL offense while highlighting the talents of quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. As a head coach in St. Louis, Linehan, 50, went 11-25 from 2006 to 2008 before being fired.
But Linehan as Garrett’s offensive lieutenant makes conventional NFL sense. The two worked together (Garrett as QB coach under coordinator Linehan) on the Dolphins staff in 2005 under Nick Saban. This is Garrett hiring from inside the Saban coaching tree and Garrett choosing his right-hand man as opposed to the owner choosing for him. Linehan spent most of Monday in the coaching wing at Valley Ranch, engaging in staff meetings.
It’s been reported that Linehan represents a Valley Ranch “compromise.’’ It is nothing of the sort. It is a concession by, and break in custom for, Jones. And it is a win for Garrett – who could use a few more of those lest he find himself looking for work next off season as well.
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