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Three stances: Looking at the reality of the Cowboys’ decision on Scott Linehan

Forgive us for injecting a little logic into things.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
You wonder what the General had to say to the OC.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an interesting week for the Dallas Cowboys. And that is despite the fact that they haven’t really done anything of note. Instead, it has been all about the talk, and what has and hasn’t been said about the future of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. It all started with head coach Jason Garrett saying that he expects Linehan to be back, only to walk that back a bit after executive vice president Stephen Jones stated that no decisions had been made on the subject.

That quieted the howls of protest, but just down to a low roar. Based on the traffic on social media, a large majority of both fans and reporters think that Linehan is the biggest problem with the Cowboys’ offense, and replacing him is necessary. However, where things stand now actually makes a good bit of sense when you step back and look at this. We can’t know the actual thoughts of the senior leadership, but there are three likely scenarios for what is going on.

But before we get to those, there are some other factors to consider.

It ain’t over ‘til the Johnny Walker Blue fan sings

As Garrett himself stated, the final decision will rest with owner and GM Jerry Jones. He will either make it himself, or will approve the recommendation of one or more of his chief lieutenants. In this case, that is pretty much down to Garrett and Stephen Jones. Will McClay may have some input, but given that he is the expert on player evaluation, it does not make sense that he would be as deeply involved.

There is no rush on this

A lot of fans and writers may think that the Cowboys have waited too long, but that is a false view of the situation. Unlike most teams that have made major shakeups in their staff, Dallas was still in the playoffs until the sadness of last Saturday. Their abbreviated playoff run was in fact a test of Linehan (who certainly seemed to fail it against the Los Angeles Rams). Simply put, they had to see how he did with the challenge facing him before they could make a truly informed decision.

There is the sentiment all the best options have now been taken by other teams.

Well, what could the Cowboys do? Those new signings in the NFL were overwhelmingly made by teams that didn’t make the postseason. They certainly weren’t going to sit idle while Dallas (and other playoff teams) finished their runs. There was really nothing the Cowboys could do. It seems manifestly unwise to be engaged in any real discussions with potential new OCs while the one you have is coaching your team in the tournament.

This was never going to be a snap decision, and that’s probably a good thing

Despite the zombie-like meme of Jerry Jones being reckless and impulsive, the cold truth is that he utilizes a collaborative approach to big decisions. He relies on Stephen and Garrett to give him vital input. And for a decision like this, they need to take the time to evaluate things fully to make a good call.

With the team trying to win it all, Garrett was certainly focused elsewhere. It also makes sense that both Jerry and Stephen wanted to see how Linehan did in the postseason.

Now they have the data. It is time to sit down, cut through the bull, and figure out what to do about Linehan and his job.

At this point, there are three basic ways things can possibly stand for the brain trust.

Leaning towards Linehan staying

It is entirely likely that we have lost some readers because whatever device they were using to read this just smashed to bits as they gave in to rage. For the calmer members, bear with me a moment.

Garrett certainly seemed to be hinting at this in his initial, inflammatory statements on radio. And even though Stephen seemed to demur, he didn’t state unequivocally that he was not in the same camp.

That would just leave getting Jerry on board. He has been rather opaque on this topic. However, he is notably loyal to his people, often to a fault. So this might not be a hard sell if Stephen and Garrett are unified.

If this is how it goes, fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy offseason.

Linehan is out of favor, but those waterfowl need to be aligned

This, obviously, is what many are hoping and waiting for. The plan is to move on, but first, they want to get a better idea of who comes next.

That does not mean interviews, which would come after an announcement that Linehan was now available for other opportunities. But a lot of work is done sub rosa. Agents can be contacted, some phone calls made, to see if some possible candidates would be interested in coming to work in Dallas, for the most visible franchise, at the most advanced facilities currently in existence, for one of the most generous owners in the league.

If there seems to be a good pool of possibilities that could deign to suffer those hardships, then it would be time to call Linehan in and break the news to him. In all likelihood, he would have sensed the direction of the tide by then. It might come as a complete shock to him, but if he was actually that oblivious to all that has been swirling about his performance, it is just one more reason that he should go.

Garrett is ready to die on Linehan Hill

This is almost as bad as the first option. To be specific, it would be a situation where Stephen and Jerry want to move on, but the head coach insists that he keep his long-time friend in the job.

Would Garrett put his own job on the line for Linehan? That seems unreasonable - but then, keeping him around so far doesn’t strike most of us as having been that great an idea in the first place.

If the head coach would go so far, would Jerry and Stephen fold, or would they be willing to fire him and start over? That would be something some would be glad to see, since Garrett has long had his detractors. But it would likely mean a step backs as a new HC brings in his own system and philosophy. It would also likely mean massive changes all over the staff, since most would not be willing to accept assistants the owner forced on them (Garrett was a bit of an exception at the start of his tenure, but he had the half-year as interim HC, and a long relationship with the Jones family as well).

This probably qualifies as the worst-case scenario, since there will be some turmoil and conflict however it plays out.

Those are the three logical ways this could go. We should know how it turns out before too much longer.

So what do you think will be the end result?


Give us your prediction of what the Cowboys do about Scott Linehan.

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    They will keep him and have the same problems next season, despite hoping for another outcome. (Isn’t that the definition of insanity?)
    (1333 votes)
  • 53%
    He’s gone. They are just getting those ducks in a row.
    (1845 votes)
  • 3%
    Garrett will not fire his friend, so he will wait for those five job offers next year.
    (132 votes)
  • 4%
    I don’t care. I’ve given up on this team, burned my swag, and will get new gear from my new lifelong follow, as soon as they identify themselves by winning the Super Bowl.
    (145 votes)
3455 votes total Vote Now

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