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Cowboys news: Candidates to replace Scott Linehan at offensive coordinator

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Seven candidates to replace Scott Linehan as the Cowboys offensive coordinator - David Howman, BloggingtheBoys
With the vacancy at offensive coordinator, Howman offers seven names to keep an eye on, one of which is an in-house option.

Doug Nussmeier just finished his first season with the Cowboys coaching the tight ends, and he deserves some credit for the way that position group developed towards the end of the year, most notably with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. It was Nussmeier’s first time ever coaching tight ends, but he has a connection to Scott Linehan - he played quarterback when Linehan was the offensive coordinator at the University of Idaho.

That familiarity with Linehan might make Nussmeier a good hire for continuity’s sake, but Nussmeier also has playcalling experience of his own. He won a national championship in two years running the offense for Alabama, working closely with Jason Garrett’s close friend and mentor Nick Saban, and he also had stints with Michigan and Florida. If the Cowboys believe they have the right offensive system in place but just want a new playcaller, Nussmeier could be the frontrunner. However, if Dallas wants a clean break from Linehan, Nussmeier’s longtime relationship with the now former offensive coordinator could deter any promotion.

Scott Linehan is gone. What do the Cowboys do now? – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Watkins looks outside the organization for options.

Then again, the Cowboys could look outside the organization, seeking a coach who can run the West Coast offense with some zone-reads mixed in. Coaches with ties to this offense include current or former pro coaches such as Ron and Scott Turner, Bill Lazor, Ken Zampese and Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley.

In theory, this is a good job. Elliott and Cooper are both dynamic playmakers, and the offensive line should be much better with All-Pro center Travis Frederick back in 2019. Two other All-Pros, left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin, are coming off injuries. Connor Williams should be better in his second year, particularly if he bulks up. No team is perfect, and everybody has holes. The Cowboys have enough talent on offense to compete for a playoff berth every year. Can they find the right play caller to contend deep into the playoffs? We’ll find out soon.

Candidates Dallas could consider for coordinator – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Another batch of names from Charean Williams:

Saints assistant head coach/tight ends Dan Campbell is the obvious name. He played with Jason Garrett for three seasons with the Giants. Campbell, a Glen Rose, Texas, native, also played for the Cowboys for three seasons and has a relationship with Jones.

Campbell has never had the title of offensive coordinator with play-calling duties, but he served as the interim head coach of the Dolphins in 2015 when the team fired Joe Philbin.

The Saints would have to agree to let Campbell leave if he is under contract for 2019.

Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka’s name also has been thrown out randomly on social media as a possibility, but he has no ties to Garrett or the Cowboys.

James Coley, though, does.

Georgia recently promoted Coley to offensive coordinator after a season as the Bulldogs’ co-offensive coordinator. Coley was on Nick Saban’s staff in Miami in 2005-06 with Garrett.

5 Candidates To Replace Scott Linehan As Cowboys Offensive Coordinator - Ryan Phillips, The Big Lead
If you want to venture a little outside your social media filter bubble, four of the five candidates listed here haven't gotten a lot of air time in DFW: Ken Whisenhunt, Todd Haley, Jedd Fisch, and Joe Lombardi.

For years there have been whispers that Jerry Jones would love to have Sean Payton as his head coach. Well, if he can’t have Payton, maybe snagging one of his top assistants would be a nice consolation prize.

Joe Lombardi has been the Saints’ quarterbacks coach since 2016, but outside of two seasons as the Lions’ offensive coordinator (2014-15), he’s been with Payton and New Orleans continuously since 2007. He became the team’s quarterbacks coach just before the 2009 season and helped Drew Brees lead the Saints to a win in Super Bowl XLIV.

The 47-year-old is also the grandson of Vince Lombardi, so his bloodlines aren’t too bad.

Who will be the next offensive coordinator? - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Could the next OC come from one of the four playoff finalists?

It’s not lost on the Cowboys that the four teams in the conference championships game on Sunday — the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints — were the top four teams in the league in terms of scoring.

“As we move forward, that will be a big part of what we’re about, because that’s one of the places we want to improve all the way around,” Stephen Jones said. “But certainly, as I said, we look at these final four teams and they’re the top scoring teams in the NFL. If we want to take the next steps, then we’re, not only going to have to improve as an offense, but all the way around. That’s what we intend to do here in the off-season. Nobody is satisfied and we’ve got our eye on the ball and ready to take the next step.”

Gut Feeling: The Linehan Decision; What’s Next? - DallasCowboys.com
The mothership crew weighs in on what’s next for the Cowboys at offensive coordinator.

Bryan Broaddus: Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that Scott Linehan was removed as the offensive coordinator. With Jerry and Stephen Jones coming out this week and saying that there needs to be improvement with the offense, something had to be done. I came out strong saying that I would have kept the staff together and then made the clean sweep if things didn’t work out. I don’t know what the future is going to hold now. Does Doug Nussmeier get the job or does Garrett look to the outside? I feel like Nussmeier is going to get this job with some input from Garrett and the other staff members. Nussmeier will give Garrett what he wants: an understanding of the offense with a few more wrinkles. Coaches don’t like change and this route I believe will be give Jason Garrett the most comfort.

Linehan’s departure as OC may give Cowboys fans hope, but it’s hard to foresee huge changes with Garrett still at the helm - Matt Mosley, SportsDay
While the firing of Linehan brings hope for change to Cowboys Nation, there is also reason to believe that things will stay the same.

Now the question becomes: Who will replace Linehan as offensive coordinator? There’s a chance that Garrett will want to take over the play-calling and bring in a younger coach to serve as offensive coordinator. There’s already been a lot of coaches hired around the league, so it’s not like there’s a ton of candidates. If you wanted to look at an in-house candidate, the team’s talented wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, has a desire to become an offensive coordinator. He did a tremendous job working with Cooper to make the transition seamless this season. Lal could perhaps take over as passing-game coordinator if Garrett decides to call the plays.

It’s more likely the Cowboys find someone besides Garrett to call the plays, but I think Jason will at least attempt to convince Jones to give him another shot. The firing of Linehan will give fans hope of better times ahead on offense, but it’s hard to foresee any massive changes with Garrett still at the helm.


Cowboys announce they will not retain Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator - Jared Dubin, CBSSports.com
Dubin offers something like a job description for the new OC in Dallas. If you’ve got somebody in mind that fits this description, call Jason Garrett. Pronto.

It’s not yet know whom the Cowboys will target to take Linehan’s place, but they badly need someone who will modernize the offense to play to the strengths of their quarterback, account for the (moderate) decline of the team’s offensive line, and put players like Cooper, Elliott, and rookie wideout Michael Gallup in position to succeed. The Cowboys may have to incorporate some more new pieces next season with slot man Cole Beasley and gadget weapon Tavon Austin headed for free agency, Hurns on the mend after suffering a brutal injury during the Cowboys’ playoff opener, and Terrance Williams presumably on his way out of town. They’d do best to find someone who has a vision for what kind of players will best help Prescott reach his potential, because that’s what the future of the Dallas franchise is likely to be hitched to, given Jerry Jones’ recent comments about the young quarterback’s value.

Three must-have qualities a new OC should bring to Dallas - Kate Hairopouos, SportsDay
What other qualities would you be looking for?.

Dallas' next OC will have to be able to develop Dak Prescott as the quarterback enters his fourth season, bring a little creativity to a run-first offense and revamp the passing game in a league where it's only increasingly vital.


TL;DR version:

Name Age Current (or last) Position Team
In-house candidates
Doug Nussmeier 48 TE Coach Dallas
Sanjay Lal 49 WR Coach Dallas
Kellen Moore 30 QB Coach Dallas
NFL Candidates - Final Four
Dan Campbell 42 TE Coach New Orleans
Jedd Fisch 42 Senior Offensive Assistant LA Rams
Mike Kafka 31 QB Coach Kansas City
Joe Lombardi 47 QB Coach New Orleans
NFL Candidates - Other
Todd Haley 51 OC Cleveland
Ken Whisenhunt 56 OC LA Chargers
Scott Turner 36 QB Coach Carolina
Bill Lazor 46 OC Cincinnati
Ken Zampese 51 QB Coach Cleveland
Ron Turner 65 Offensive consultant Carolina
College candidates
James Coley 45 OC Georgia

Who ya got?


Agent’s Take: Here are the Cowboys’ options with Dak Prescott as his rookie deal nears end - Joel Corry, CBS Sports
With an extension likely coming for Dak, Joel Corry weighs in.

The Cowboys didn’t do Prescott any favors by going with a wide-receiver-by-committee approach to start the season. Prescott lacked the weapons in the passing game most other quarterbacks have, with tight end Jason Witten’s retirement and wide receiver Dez Bryant’s release during the offseason.

This prompted Dallas to give its 2019 first-round pick (27th overall) to the Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper seven games into the season as the late October trading deadline approached. Cooper quickly made an impact while getting acclimated to a new offense. Prescott became a more effective quarterback with a legitimate receiving threat. The difference is illustrated in the following chart containing Prescott’s statistical performance during the first and second half of the season.

Prescott had the NFL’s fourth-best completion percentage over the second half of the season. He also ranked in the top 10 in pass attempts (7th), passing yards (8th) and passer rating (7th). The Cowboys tied the Colts for the NFL’s best record in the second half of the season.

Prescott’s statistical improvement could be encouraging to Jones, although he isn’t a quarterback who has demonstrated he can consistently win games with his arm when necessary. Throwing for 387 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes in a meaningless regular-season finale, a come-from-behind 36-35 victory over the Giants (without key members of the offensive line and Elliott since the game didn’t have any playoff implications for Dallas) was a positive step in this regard.


Zack Martin, Tyron Smith to sit out Pro Bowl - Todd Archer, ESPN
Two Cowboys’ offensive lineman will sit out of Pro Bowl after coming off injury riddled seasons.

Cowboys offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin will not play in the Pro Bowl, according to multiple sources. Smith was bothered for much of the second half of the season with a stinger and a right elbow injury, while Martin played through a sprained left knee for most of the season. After the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Martin hinted he would not play in the Pro Bowl. Neither player will need surgery. Time should help heal their issues.


Former Ohio State WR Devin Smith signs with Dallas - Kevin Harrish, Eleven Warriors
Former second-round pick Devin Smith has signed a futures deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Devin Smith is headed to Dallas.

The former Buckeye deep threat wide receiver and former Jets second-round pick has been signed by the Dallas Cowboys, his agent announced on Twitter Friday afternoon.

Smith has battled injuries since entering the league in 2015 and has not played since the 2016 season. He’s caught just 10 passes in his career for 135 yards and a touchdown.