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Decoding the Cowboys staff: What to make of the Scott Linehan comments by Jason Garrett

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Given the furor over a line in an interview, it is time to review some basic principles in understanding things.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp
Peeps, he never says anything he can avoid saying.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

- George Santayana

It is the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. Which, in many ways, is synonymous with “silly season”. Fans and media alike are prone to hasty and often unfounded reactions to even minor things. That was once again evident when, during a regularly scheduled radio interview, Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said something that was the exact opposite of what so many were hoping to hear.

For those who have paid absolutely no attention to the Cowboys the past couple of seasons, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is the current villain of the team, taking blame for the loss in the divisional round to the Los Angeles Rams, consistently predictable play calls, bad game plans, red zone inefficiency, third down failures, political turmoil, the opiod crisis, and global warming. Or most of them, anyway. His replacement is seen as the number one thing the team has to do to get farther than they did the past season.

So the takes were scorching hot as soon as that hit social media.

If it seems like a bit of an overreaction, subsequent developments supported that idea.

After Garrett’s interview, team executive vice president Stephen Jones offered some meaningful elaboration on the coaching staff.

And during his full press conference later in the day, Garrett walked his earlier statement back.

This led to some more angst over the seemingly confused state of the top staff.

But if you have really been paying attention to the Cowboys in the Garrett era, you know that this is really just an example of how he deals with the media, if perhaps a bit of an extreme one. Garrett is a master at speaking to reporters at length while withholding nearly all meaningful information.

I don’t want to say he treats the media as the enemy. Not exactly. But he does regard information about the team as if it was classified information which divulging would do irreparable harm to the organization. It is just who he is and how he operates.

In that he serves as an interesting counterbalance to owner and GM Jerry Jones, who is famed for his stream of consciousness ramblings on any and all things Cowboys. Where Garrett’s statements reveal nothing, forcing those who cover the team to dig hard for even the tiniest tidbit of real news, Jerry is a walking, scotch-swilling quote machine whose living-large style is an endless source of material. Stephen is somewhere in the middle. His statements have real meat to them, but are more measured than Jerry’s by a large margin. He is fairly clear about when things like future coaching changes are still to be determined, but he also lets us know that they are clearly on the table.

While they offer widely different approaches to speaking on subjects of substance, they are all also very consistent. They just don’t change. Stephen’s remarks on a different subject offer another example of that.

Again, this is a story we have heard for years now. The course the Cowboys are going to take has not changed in many ways. Some of that is very good, such as the way they have built the roster mainly through the draft with some real finds in free agency, like DT Antwaun Woods. But obviously, the team still has not reached the promised land, and the offensive issues were a big part of that last season.

All this also reflects the unique way the team is run. It is very much a collaborative effort, with Stephen Jones, Garrett, and personnel guru Will McClay a three-headed brain trust, and Jerry Jones the guy who oversees them and makes the necessary hard decisions. Garrett alluded to exactly that as well.

This is not the way fans or the media would like it to be. We want clear, unequivocal answers to questions like “What are you going to do about the offensive coordinator position?” That, however, is just not going to happen with this group.

After the tumult and later realization that Linehan’s future is still under consideration, the bottom line is that we don’t know what is going to happen yet. The overwhelming consensus is that the team would be better off with a new OC to get Dallas on board the offensive train that is the apparent wave of the future for the NFL. Or, to be more accurate, the wave of right now.

The dissatisfaction with Linehan’s scheme, play calling, and usage/development of some very talented players like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup is justified. We still don’t know if the top leadership of the Cowboys will make the best decision on this subject. But we certainly don’t know that they will blow it yet, either.

When you hear or read something about the team from one of the three main spokesmen (McClay operates totally behind the scenes), it has to be carefully considered. It may tell us something, or it may just be obfuscation. That is part of following the Cowboys. And it hasn’t changed for years now.