Sources: Cowboys Looking At Scott Linehan To Call Offensive Plays

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Things are never easy with the Cowboys and figuring out what their internal plans are can be a tricky proposition.

Things are as clear as mud in Dallas these days. Earlier this week we heard that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan would both be retained for the 2014 season. But along with that was word that their roles may not be the same. What that exactly meant is anybody's guess.

Now, the name Scott Linehan has entered the picture. Linehan is a well-traveled offensive coordinator who was just let go by the Lions. The story making the rounds tonight is that sources are telling ESPN that the Cowboys are discussing hiring Linehan to call the plays on offense. ESPN is also reporting that he would be a "compromise" candidate between Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett, implying there is a division of thought on which way the offense should go. ESPN (especially Ed Werder) like to pump up the sensational aspects and make a soap opera out of everything Dallas does, so I'll leave that part alone for the moment.

But what about the football side of things? Would Linehan become the passing coordinator and play-caller while Callahan remains as the overall offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and run game coordinator? That seems pretty convoluted but the Cowboys did something similar under Bill Parcells a while back.

What would Linehan mean for the offense? Well, if you thought Dallas was unbalanced and passed a lot, Linehan is probably not the guy to solve that problem. This article discusses Linehan who was under consideration for the offensive coordinator job in Baltimore although that seems unlikely now after he wasn't brought back for a second interview.

The Ravens on Monday interviewed the former Detroit Lions coordinator, who called plays -- including some occasional runs -- for the NFL’s pass-happiest offense in recent years. No quarterback has thrown more passes since 2011 than Matthew Stafford, who has chucked up 2,024 of them in the past three seasons. Stafford twice led the league in pass attempts, including an all-time single-season high of 727 last season.

Linehan, the former St. Louis Rams head coach, has roots in single-back spread offenses, and that is reflected in his use of three-receiver sets in recent seasons. In 2012, the Lions went three-wide on nearly half of their plays and put Stafford in the shotgun or pistol on 71 percent of his snaps, the highest percentage in the league, according to Football Outsiders. This year, the Lions were in three-receiver sets on 67.3 percent of snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Now, Linehan does have a similar background as Garrett in terms of offensive style, and the Cowboys were probably more successful running 11 personnel than almost anything else last season. The Lions were actually very successful on offense over the years, they just had problems with Stafford turnovers and and inability to run the ball consistently.

The source expects Linehan to be hired. Under Linehan, the Lions finished sixth, third and fifth in total offense over the past three seasons. Linehan is known for his pass-heavy approach -- he's unlikely the man to solve the Cowboys' balance issues on offense in recent years.

It's hard to know how serious this is, we'll just have to wait and see.

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