I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t see The Shawshank Redemption for the first time until about four years ago.
One of the film’s most famous scenes is its main character, Andy Dufresne, celebrating after having crawled through a long tunnel of you-know-what, bathing in the night’s rain, tasting the freedom he was robbed of for the first time.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is the 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Andy Dufresne.
Friday evening brought forth the news that wide receivers coach Derek Dooley would in fact be leaving, he’s headed to Mizzou. Cowboys coaches, especially offensive ones, are dropping like flies.
Quite the coaching shakeup in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/BmOhjd0cz1— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) January 3, 2018
If you think Frank Pollack is safe, ESPN’s Todd Archer cautioned earlier this week that he could be out as well. Literally the only person safe on offense is the only person who’s crawled through, Scott Linehan.
This is hard to understand for Cowboys fans because, well, how do I say this, the offense was the you-know-what Scott Linehan crawled through in 2017.
Somehow Linehan convinced the Cowboys, presumably Jason Garrett and his superiors, that literally everything except for him was the problem. This is an impressive feat.
Linehan’s offense ranked 14th in both points and yards this past season, and middle of the pack is hardly anything to cause a riot over; however, the offense was generally flat. It was predictable (in the players own words). More than anything, it was absent in the season’s biggest moments.
Whatever the case, Dallas feels that Scott Linehan is worth keeping, and they’re fine moving on from just about everyone else This makes 2018 the Scott Linehan year, it’s all or nothing.
Should Linehan prove to the Cowboys, and residually the world, next season that he’s capable of commanding an offense similar to 2014 and 2016, well everybody looks pretty great and we’ll all cheers. What if not, though?
What if the Cowboys offense is flat again? What if the offensive scheme, which Dez Bryant himself isn’t a fan of, fails to produce again? What if the Cowboys go even a single game without scoring a touchdown again (they did this twice in 2017)? What then?
Part of the failures of the Cowboys offense in the odd years of Linehan’s tenure have been the cruxes of them being completely taken away. Dallas fell apart when Tony Romo was injured in 2015, and when the Ezekiel Elliott rug was yanked out from under them last season they completely stalled.
The truly ironic thing now is that instead of learning their lesson (which they should have after 2015 the way Green Bay is now with Aaron Rodgers) they not only repeated the mistake in 2017 with Ezekiel Elliott but they’re doing so in 2018 with Scott Linehan.
Dallas continues, this will be the third time in four years, to have their offense completely and totally revolve around one person. In years past it was their most talented player, next season it will be the coordinator.
Of course it makes sense to have such a large dependency on your offensive coordinator, but it’s establishing a dangerous level of responsibility, setting up for a potential disastrous cause and effect.
If Scott Linehan isn’t good enough, the way Romo and Zeke weren’t available, offensively the Cowboys won’t be able to run, no pun intended. The Cowboys offense is a one-man band and they keep changing the lead singer. Get a group of singers.
Dallas is centering everything around the one cog that designed the systems that previously failed for similar reasons. They’re either going to look like geniuses for believing in Linehan or fools that kicked the can down the road, prolonging what many felt was inevitable in early 2018.
Which will it be?