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Linehan Looking To Tweak, Not Change, Offensive Concepts In Light Of A Dismal Season

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In spite of a lack of explosiveness in 2015 the Dallas offensive philosophy will remain unchanged, except in areas where they need to change.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In my previous post I went into how the Dallas Cowboys defense needs to elevate their game to help the team return to the performance of 2014. A key element of that article centered around the defense needing to generate more turnovers to give the offense additional opportunities to find the endzone. That thought brings us to the next "area of opportunity" for the team. The offense must return to its 2014 form for the Cowboys to make a return to the playoffs.

Everyone knows that the 2015 offense was not the real Dallas O. The absence of the starting quarterback and the number one receiver would handicap any offense. Unfortunately, in football those things happen and teams have to adapt and move on. That is what the Dallas offense under Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel failed to do.  This will be addressed through either free agency or the draft. Of that there seems to be little doubt.

The return of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will be the biggest shot in the arm for a floundering Dallas offense but if it is the only one the team will still be at the mercy of fate. Changes, or more specifically tweaks, are going to have to be made. An offense that is designed to be Romo-friendly is only effective with # 9 at the helm. We learned that this season.

"We haven’t really completely sat down and said what our adjustments are going to be. I don’t anticipate anything major. Obviously we’re working to improve in some areas we fell short, so we’ll do that here in the upcoming months and we really have to get ourselves back to where we really started and where we were in training camp and where we were early in the year, get back to that. There are a lot of things we've got to do better. I think we have to start by everyone looking in the mirror and saying, 'This is what we’ve got to do individually and then collectively as a group, and then as a team.’ So it’s pretty cut and dry that way." - Scott Linehan

The biggest challenge is going to be in making a Romo-friendly offense friendly to Romo's backup as well. That will be easier said than done, but that is why Linehan and head coach Jason Garrett make the big bucks. Step one will be to find a passer that can fit into the system. Neither Weeden or Cassel was able to adapt to the Cowboys offense, an ability which is vital for a back-up QB. The next man is going to have to do just that.

On a similar note, the offensive personnel including the coaching staff will have to be able to adapt to the back-up in the event that he is forced into action. Romo has a unique blend of talents that allows him to be successful. His backup will not bring the same skill set to the table. That means that blockers will have to hold their blocks longer because a less mobile guy will not be as elusive in the pocket. Receivers and backs will have to adapt to the backup QB in route-running. Not every passer can make the throws that Romo does. The staff will have to adapt to a less explosive unit while at the same time not becoming too conservative or predictable. Making a back up QB a success is a team effort. The offense needs to execute.

"Big plays don’t have to be deep balls. One of the things we were able to do [in 2014] when we had opportunities on the outside part of the field, we executed those types of throws. But we also caught a 1-yard hitch for a 70-yard touchdown in the last game. So they come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing from the play calling to the performance to everything."

At its heart football is a very simple game. You move the ball better, you block better, you tackle better; you win.  You fail to do those things and you lose. The Cowboys offense will have to find ways to maximize and play within the limits of whomever they put on the field. If they can do that then they will be able to return to the form we expect out of the team.

The 2016 campaign will be one of expecting the best with the return of the offense's two biggest stars, but there is also a sense of urgency in adapting to accommodate any contingency that might come along. There will be no big changes on the surface. What will most likely change is in the things that we as fans hopefully never see.  If the football gods do not smile in our direction, then is when we will see if the team's efforts are successful