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Cowboys point/counterpoint: Going after Kliff Kingsbury

The sudden availability of one of the rising offensive minds has Dallas fans salivating. But is it really the right idea, right now?

Florida v Texas Tech
Hey, he already knows how to clap!
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Whenever a big, or semi-big, or just pretty well-known name pops up that relates even tangentially to the NFL, you can be sure that someone out there is going to link it to the Dallas Cowboys. But some of those names actually make sense. That is the case with the sudden availability of former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Given the widespread discontent with the Dallas offense as run under Scott Linehan, it is not hard to see that there could well be a place on the Cowboys staff for him. And it doesn’t hurt that he has some kind of relationship with the Jones family - John Stephen Jones, son of Stephen and grandson of Jerry, which makes him kind of the scion of things Cowboys, heavily considered Texas Tech to play his college ball before he committed to Arkansas. But it looks like the Jones family would have to commit to Kingsbury now rather than later if they want to win that recruiting war, based on what Brandt reported. That may be a little sticky with Linehan still in place, and with the Dallas offense showing a new life since the arrival of Amari Cooper.

So should the Cowboys find some way to land Kingsbury before he is lured somewhere else? Our Tom Ryle and Michael Strawn, as always, have some thoughts about that.

Michael: Short answer: absolutely yes.

Let me be clear, I don’t follow college football closely and probably know more about Kliff Kingsbury the player than Kingsbury the coach. What I’ve read, however, is that he’s fluent in “modern” offensive schemes. (Note I put “modern” in quotes because these schemes have been around for 20+ years in the college and high school ranks; only the NFL has been slow to catch on). As you mention, the Cowboys are widely regarded as possessing one of the most neanderthal offensive schemes in the league.

When you have respected, not-prone-to-exaggeration analysts like Bucky Brooks commenting on the simplicity and predictability of the scheme there’s clearly issues. Bringing in someone with fresh ideas on how to put players like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott into position to succeed seems like a no-brainer.

Tom: I am hardly a Linehan supporter here, but I am not so sure this is the way for Dallas to go. And I won’t even get into the question of whether his ideas will automatically translate to the NFL (because I tend to think they will).

Things have changed a lot over the past three weeks, as the Cowboys have gone on a tear and won three in a row. Yes, that is largely due to Amari Cooper’s arrival, but it also owes a lot to Ezekiel Elliott balling out, Dak Prescott playing better, and the promotion of Marc Colombo (feat. Hudson Houck) to get the offensive line back on track. The fact is that the roster was not really suited to Linehan’s system prior to those moves, since it depends on three key elements: A stud WR1, an equally impactful RB1, and a dominant offensive line. One of those is now fixed, one was always in place, and the third, while still not where we want it to be, has certainly gotten a lot closer.

Now that the offensive roster is really a good fit for Linehan’s system, do we really want to be so eager about changing horses? And does this roster fit what Kingsbury does? And then there is the surly gorilla over there in the corner, which is just how would Linehan react, and would bringing Kingsbury aboard in whatever capacity fatally wound the coaching staff?

Michael: First I’m with you in thinking the offense looks better. I also recognize Linehan has had success with his system (see 2014/2016). And you look at recent goal line plays that failed - the Cole Beasley drop and the miss to Noah Brown - well-designed plays where the scheme was terrific but the players failed to execute.

So I’m willing to give Linehan credit. But that doesn’t mean things can’t be better. Two things keep bothering me: analysts pointing out how predictable and easy to defend the Cowboys are and then watching defenses look helpless against teams like the Chiefs. There’s always room for improvement.

As for the concerns about Linehan I have none. This is a profession and these guys understand that. If Linehan doesn’t want to get on board with the plan he knows what his options are. It’s not like the players and remaining coaches would suddenly forget the plays.

Rod Marinelli welcomes Kris Richard. Bring Kingsbury on as a consultant or whatever. Maybe set up a situation next year similar to the Marinelli/Richard set up. This organization has a pretty good track record of getting coaches to work together.

Tom: Well, you may be more optimistic than I am, because I have a suspicion that Linehan is very focused on maintaining control, and no matter how you couch it, he would be losing it with Kingsbury on the staff, whatever his role or title. I really doubt Linehan would quietly let Kingsbury have much say in play calling or game planning. And what else would his hire be for, other than just salting him away for next season?

Most importantly, I just am not a fan of making a major change like this when things are going so well. The Cooper trade and the Colombo promotion were answers to glaring issues, which now don’t exist. As you mentioned, the only real failures of late have been execution, not the actual play calls. With the team looking like it is getting better across the board as the season progresses, I remain leery of another big shakeup. And Kingsbury would be nothing else. It may be a conservative take, but when it comes down to it, I subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory. Right now, it just ain’t broke

Michael: Well, this is where I’d have to put my big picture hat on. Simply, do the Cowboys want to give up the opportunity to add one of the bright, young offensive minds in football in order to keep things smooth with Scott Linehan?

Regardless of how the rest of this season plays out I think Linehan’s position is tenuous simply due to widespread recognition that his schemes are simple and dated. Heck, they nearly fired him a month ago based on reports.

If he does resist, I’d be fine with making that change now. Garrett can assume play-calling duties. I honestly doubt it would come to that.

There you have it. Where do you come down on Kingsbury and Linehan? Join the debate in the comments - politely, of course.


Should the Cowboys do whatever it takes to bring Kliff to the Star?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Heck yeah! He would make this team a monster!
    (1087 votes)
  • 19%
    It would be intriguing, but this may not be the right time.
    (288 votes)
  • 5%
    Forget replacing just Linehan. Kliff for HC!
    (77 votes)
  • 2%
    Kliff who?
    (35 votes)
1487 votes total Vote Now

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