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3 Ways Scott Linehan Can Get Cowboys Offense Back On Track

Brian Martin

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The Dallas Cowboys are coming of one of their worst performances that I have personally witnessed. There is no need to sugarcoat things, the Denver Broncos simply made the Cowboys look like they were the Cleveland Browns. Fortunately, I think we will see a bounce back performance this week against the Arizona Cardinals and I believe offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will have a lot to do with that.

Arguably the most surprising thing last week for the Cowboys was how god-awful the offense performed against the Denver Broncos. It didn’t matter if they were trying to run or pass the ball, the Broncos seemed to have the answer for everything. This is simply unacceptable, especially with all the firepower the Cowboys have on offense.

I personally believe the playcalling needs to improve and that’s where Scott Linehan comes in. Linehan has far too many weapons at his disposal for any defense in the NFL to shut them down the way the Broncos did last week. Luckily, I  believe there are 3 ways he can get the Cowboys offense back on track this week.

QB Dak Prescott

(AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Help Dak Prescott Settle In Early

It’s no secret that QB Dak Prescott has been uncharacteristically inaccurate in the first two weeks of the 2017 season. It’s really nothing to be too alarmed about considering the Dallas Cowboys have played two really good defenses who have Pro Bowl caliber cornerbacks, but it still seems as if his confidence is just a little bit off. Fortunately, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan should be able to help with that.

Dak Prescott seems to struggle the most with his accuracy early in the game, at least these first two games anyway. It seems take him a little while to settle down, so I think Linehan would be wise to help him settle in early. Linehan can do that by designing some easy completions early on to build Prescott’s confidence. This is not a new concept/idea, but it means the playcalling needs to improve or the execution, possibly both.

With all of the weapons the Dallas Cowboys currently have on the roster this shouldn’t be a problem. It could be a simple dump off pass to Ezekiel Elliott or even a high percentage throw on an intermediate pass to Cole Beasley. Then again, Jason Witten has been the most consistent so far this season and could be the beneficiary. My point is there are endless possibilities, but Scott Linehan definitely needs to do a better job in order to help Prescott get going early.

Find Mismatches For Dez Bryant

This may surprise a lot of you since there are those among you who believe Dez Bryant isn’t the player he once was, but I assure you that’s inaccurate. I’ve been hearing far too often that the Dallas Cowboys need to trade or cut Bryant because he’s not worth the money he is making. But, OC Scott Linehan has been doing him a disservice with his playcalling.

The way that Dez Bryant has been utilized in these first two games of 2017 season really plays right into the hands of the opposing defenses. He has had to go up against Pro Bowl caliber CBs against both the Giants and Broncos, and has been at a disadvantage from the get-go. Linehan has been lining him up out wide where the CB can get their hands on #88 and be physical/handsy before he can even get into his route.

Dez Bryant would be much better utilized on the move or out of the slot where he can actually use his own physicality to his advantage. If Linehan were able to get the ball to Bryant on the move on crossing routes, it would be a huge advantage to the entire offense. Instead we are seeing a lot of 50/50 contested passes thrown his way or back shoulder fades. There just needs to be more passes thrown his way that have a higher chance of being completed.

RB Ezekiel Elliott

RB Ezekiel Elliott

Create More Opportunities For Ezekiel Elliott

We heard all off-season that the Dallas Cowboys were planning to use Ezekiel Elliott more in both the running and passing game, but that has yet to come to fruition. Now, I understand the Cowboys have gone up against two pretty good defenses, but there have been missed opportunities for Elliott, especially in the passing game.

Personally, I was shocked that Scott Linehan didn’t try to get Elliot the ball out in space against the Broncos last week. The Broncos defense completely sold out to shut down the running game for the Cowboys, and it worked. But, with all of the Broncos defenders focusing on the run, there were still opportunities to get Elliott the ball in the passing game.

There were several instances where there was just one defender covering Elliot in the passing game. I don’t know about you, but I like the odds of Elliott beating that one defender and picking up a good chunk of yards. They were just simple dump off/swing passes, but it would’ve helped Elliott get more involved and put the Broncos defense on their heels a little bit more.

Can Scott Linehan turn things around for the Cowboys offense?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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24 Comments
  • dallas1966

    Brian, You’re on fire. It appears that Linehan is in a slump and opposing defensive coordinator have figured the Cowboys offensive tendencies. It’s time for Linehan to mix it up, starting with the Cardinals on Monday Night, to get the Cowboys offense back on track and. Especially, with Dak, bringing him back to his 2016 form.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for the compliment. When you get punched in the mouth you only have two choices. You can either fight back or lay down. The Cowboys got punched in the mouth last week and I’m expecting them to fight back against the Cardinals. Hopefully, Linehan fights back as well.

  • Hobbes49

    Totally agree with you Brian. I also think it would be wise for them not to target Dez so much early. Let the other guys carry the weight early, so the defense has to make adjustments to stop it, then set Dez loose later.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t have a problem with them targeting Bryant early. I have a problem with the kind of targets he’s seeing. Most of the targets he’s receiving are low percentage completions. I would like to see him targeted early with high percentage passes. i.e. slants, crossing routes, comebacks, etc.

      • Hobbes49

        I definitely agree with that. It just feels like if we got Beasley and Williams more involved earlier, it wold better open up the offense for Dez and Zeke.

        • Brian Martin

          The same can be said for getting Dez and Zeke started earlier. I think Linehan and Prescott just need to do a better job of spreading the ball around so that defenses can’t focus in on one specific player/area.

  • Steve Johnson

    Felt they trying to force the ball to Dez.

    • Brian Martin

      I think it kinda feels that way because of the kind of passes thrown to him. So far this season the majority of the passes have a low percentage chance of being completed. 50/50 passes and back shoulder fades. I think they need to simplify things and try and get him more easily completed passes. Slants and crossing routes would be a good place to start.

      • Don

        Keep in mind too, every time Dez comes to the huddle he’s saying I’m open get me the ball..That probably screws with Daks head. I know he did that to Tony as well

  • John Horn

    I agree with the above statement, but there is one thing that I see is a problem. Over 50% of offensive plays are in spread, empty or shot gun formation with the focus on the shot gun formation. Prescott to me is better when he is under center. Defense want be able to read so early.

    • Brian Martin

      I partially agree. I do believe Prescott is better under center, but I think that’s because opposing defenses have to respect the run/play action passes more. Prescott is really good with his ball fakes, which is why play action is so effective. It’s more difficult to do when in shotgun, but that will continue to be a big part of their offense.

  • Cellphone Chris

    Is it just me, or have we not seen many plays with a FB lead blocking for Elliott?

    • Brian Martin

      It’s not just you. The Cowboys have seemed to believe it has been best to try to spread out the defenses they have faced so far. It is kind of a surprise, because I believed Keith Smith would be involved more on offense this season. Maybe we see more of him this week.

      • Cellphone Chris

        We did see more I formation!

        • Brian Martin

          I’m pretty sure it will be a game by game decision. I think Elliott is probably best as a single back, but I think we could see more I formation in short yardage situations.

  • Jonathan Young

    Ryan Switzer, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten,
    Run double slots. You can have Cole and Ryan on the same side and put Dez in the slot and Jason on the other side.
    Would love to see Ryan play on offense some/more!!!

    • Brian Martin

      There are endless possibilities of how creative Linehan can get with all of the offensive weapons at his disposal. Hopefully we start to see that soon, because something needs to change.

  • Tim Rafferty

    Brien , so glad I refound this site , absolutely love your articles and honest assessment of issues facing our team . Keep up the great work !! Thanks again for all you do man . As a Rabbit Cowboys fan and living outside of Boston , it’s refreshing to to have this site to help my obsession… Everything COWBOYS!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Tim, thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you found our site again also. Even though I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, I try not to sugarcoat things too much. It’s a little difficult sometimes not to be biased, but I think my readers appreciated. Thanks again and please continue to read our articles.

  • Spoonydawg

    Maybe Dak is not as Good as we all thought.. after all he was a 4th round pick..

    • Brian Martin

      Prescott is going to be just fine. He’s had to face two really good defensive teams to start out the 2017 season. Both secondaries of the Giants and Broncos have Pro Bowl caliber CBs, but that won’t be the case for the rest of the season. You have to remember, Prescott is still developing/learning. He didn’t have the benefit of sitting behind a vet QB for a year or two like Tony Romo. He was thrust into action almost immediately with very little time to prepare. I think he will be just fine.

  • Spoonydawg

    Maybe the game has passed scott by, he’s not creative enough. its pretty obvious he has no clue as to maximize dez talents, he will probably let #10 go to waste as well…look what Carolina is doing with their little rookie RB… swing passes eat…. won’t happen but maybe a time for a change,,,
    .. but i think Scott needs to step up…

    • Brian Martin

      I keep hearing everyone want to blame Jason Garrett. A lot of people keep telling me that it’s Jason Garrett’s offensive system and Scott Linehan is just calling the plays. So, it’s refreshing to hear from someone else that Linehan might just be the problem. And by the way, I agree with you. Linehan either needs to step up or ship out. I would personally like to see a new OC.

      • Spoonydawg

        Agreed

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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