The Dallas Cowboys miraculous 2016 season pretty much caught just about everyone off guard in regards to the surprise turnaround they have made after finishing 4-12 last season. Nobody could have possibly predicted that they would end up with less losses (3) than they had wins (4) in one years time span.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on what side of the spectrum you're on, that turnaround has not only probably cost the Cowboys Tony Romo's services next season, but it could also cost them their offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan.
You see, Scott Linehan's name may be a short list for a lot of these teams that are looking for a new head coach.
It shouldn't come too much of a surprise when you think about it. Linehan's offense has been one of the best in the NFL since joining the Dallas Cowboys and his work this year with rookie QB Dak Prescott has simply been outstanding.
Linehan has a track record of helping young quarterbacks reach their potential, having previously helped Matthew Stafford when he entered the league with the Detroit Lions. This is why I believe he could possibly be a highly sought after head coaching candidate.
Instead of evaluating the head-coaching positions for just Scott Linehan, I decided to take a look to see which team would be the best for Linehan and Tony Romo to continue to work together because I think they could end up being a packaged deal, at least I hope so.
The NFL coaching vacancies are a gambit of desirability. There is everything from Super Bowl contenders to the bottom feeders. Below I have ranked them from what I believe is the worst to best situation.
San Francisco 49ers
There is absolutely nothing to like about the situation that the San Francisco 49ers have themselves in. They do have the #2 overall pick in this year's draft, but the amount of dysfunction in the organization makes this job less than desirable.
The 49ers last two head coaches didn't last more than a season and they are also looking for a new general manager. There is absolutely zero stability from top to bottom, which doesn't bode well for Scott Linehan and Tony Romo continuing their careers together in the Bay Area.
Overall, I think the chances of Linehan and Romo continuing their working relationship with the 49ers is extremely thin at best. The 49ers need a miracle worker!
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are kind of like the Philadelphia Eagles this year in their own respective divisions. Both teams will be watching from home while nearly every other team in their division play in the playoffs.
The uncertainty surrounding the Chargers makes them just a little bit more desirable than the San Francisco 49ers, but not by much.
The Chargers team is full of aging players and the uncertainty surrounding where they will play in the future might mean the next head coach might want to live out of boxes until something is made official.
Philip Rivers automatically negates the need for Tony Romo, but that didn't necessarily mean that Scott Linehan would take his name out of the hat to become the next head coach.
Honestly, I think Linehan is in a better situation in Dallas, which means this move for both Tony Romo and Linehan is pretty unlikely.
Okay, finally a team that makes a little bit of sense for both Scott Linehan and Tony Romo. However, Buffalo may decide that they will stick with Anthony Lynn, but nothing has been made official just yet.
I don't believe the Buffalo Bills are as bad as their record suggests. They have playmakers on both sides of ball to work with, especially on offense.
Scott Linehan and Tony Romo could do wonders with offensive weapons like Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy, but it looks to me like the Bills could possibly be thinking about getting younger and starting a rebuild.
I don't think Linehan or Romo would like to join a team that is even remotely considering starting to rebuild, because that would likely mean that they would be trading away some of their better players and starting from scratch. So, I think we can scratch the Buffalo Bills off the list.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were thought to be a team set to break out in 2016, but nothing ever materialized which led to Gus Bradley's departure and the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft.
This could be a really intriguing opportunity for Scott Linehan. The Jaguars have a solid roster and quite a few young players to build around. Of course, Linehan's experience working with young QB's could possibly help Blake Bortles finally reach his potential.
Unfortunately with Bortles in place, it is unlikely that Linehan would bring Tony Romo in, but then again Romo could help with Bortles development.
If Scott Linehan is offered the head coaching job with the Jaguars, it is an opportunity that he might not be up to pass up. The AFC South division is one of the worst divisions in the NFL and could be up for grabs in 2017.
Overall, Linehan might not be able to pass up an opportunity with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it is highly unlikely Tony Romo joins him.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams spent their first overall draft pick on a quarterback Jared Goff in last year's draft, so that automatically rules out Romo and Linehan continuing their relationship in LA. However, this could be an intriguing head-coaching opportunity for Linehan.
Again, Linehan's experience working with young QB's can be a huge benefit to the LA Rams and most importantly Goff. Goff has the tools necessary to succeed, but needs the coaching to hopefully reach his potential.
There is a lot to like about the Rams and with the right head coach, they could take a huge step in the right detection, becoming competitive once again.
With players like Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Tavon Austin, and even Kenny Britt, there are plenty of offensive weapons that Linehan would have at his disposal. It would be interesting to see if he could do with the Rams what he has been able to do with the Cowboys.
There should be a number of coaches lining up for this job, which makes me believe that Scott Linehan would jump at the chance to become the LA Rams next head coach.
To be completely honest, I think this would be the ideal situation for both Scott Linehan and Tony Romo. The Denver Broncos have the most complete roster out of all of these teams and if not for the quarterback play this season, they likely would have made the playoffs.
I think I would go as far as saying if Romo joins the Broncos, they would likely be the Super Bowl favorites in 2017.
This is the one team where I believe Romo has a better chance of playing for then Scott Linehan does coaching.
I think Romo would be ecstatic to join the Broncos. Denver has arguably one of the best, if not the best defense in the entire NFL. They also have just enough offensive weapons to keep Romo happy and make things difficult for their opponents.
I could honestly see John Elway and the Denver Broncos being interested in bringing in Tony Romo, but ultimately it will come down to what type of compensation Jerry Jones is looking for in return. If the asking price isn't too steep, I think there is a good chance Tony Romo is in a Broncos uniform next season.
I would love to see Scott Linehan become the next a coach of the Denver Broncos, but not more than I would like to see Tony Romo get a chance to be their next starting QB. Ideally, I wouldn't mind seeing Linehan and Romo be a Bronco in 2017.
What do you think?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Travis Frederick’s Return Named Cowboys Biggest Reason For Excitement
Overall, Cowboys Nation feels to be in a positive mood during this year's offseason. Despite early angst over lack of action at the start of free agency, and concern over the Cowboys' draft strategy, most within the fan base seem to have high, yet realistic, hopes for the 2019 season.
Most seem to believe the NFC East will be a two team race, with the last two champions battling for the crown once again down the stretch of the season. Others can see the potential for a dark-horse candidate in Washington, but still believe the Cowboys roster has the edge.
So while Cowboys fans may not think they need a singular reason to look forward to the Fall of 2019, Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski gave them one this week.
NFL Brent Sobleski @@brentsobleski Twitter Logo NFL Analyst The offseason can be as thrilling for NFL fans as the regular season. Player movement constantly refreshes rosters-whether through free agency, the draft or trades. Significant changes inject excitement into franchises, personnel and fanbases. A one-time league doormat can become the league's "it' team simply through a string of acquisitions.
Brent identified the biggest reason for each team to look forward to 2019, with the return of center Travis Frederick being the Cowboys' submission. There's no question that when healthy, Frederick is one of the best centers in the game, and anchors an offensive line many still consider to be at the top of the league.
"A full year with wide receiver Amari Cooper and re-signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal are both reasons for the Dallas Cowboys to be excited. However, the return of Travis Frederick to man the middle of the offensive line is far more pertinent."
Frederick missed all of the 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disease that I am not nearly qualified enough to discuss. What I do know is that it can be very serious, and it kept Frederick out for the entire year.
The Cowboys offensive line suffered during the early part of 2018, largely due in part to Travis Frederick's absence. Yes, Joe Looney filled in and played as well as anyone could have hoped for, but the disconnect in communication across the offensive line was clear without their usual center. Especially during the first couple months of the season.
If Frederick is fully back and healthy, his presence alone will take the Cowboys offensive line back towards their peak. Combine his comeback with a healthy Zack Martin, and a now bulked up Connor Williams, and the interior of this line has the chance to be special.
3 Dallas Cowboys Who Could Make Pro Bowl Debuts this Season
Every year, the Dallas Cowboys send quite a few players to the Pro Bowl. This year, the Cowboys sent eight players to the Pro Bowl with Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones being selected to their first Pro Bowl squad.
There is a lot of talent on this year's roster and the Cowboys will likely send someone to the annual all-star game that hasn't been there before. Here are three I think will make a push for Pro Bowl recognition in 2019.
Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback
In the first half of the season, Chidobe Awuzie got picked on a bit. His coverage was always pretty good, but he allowed a ton of receptions. Awuzie allowed the ninth highest passer rating in coverage, the 12th most receptions, the 10th most yards, and tied for the sixth most touchdowns allowed weeks 1-9 of 2018.
In the second half, including the playoffs, Awuzie was much better and showed a higher level of comfort. His passer rating allowed dropped 50 points and was the 17th lowest in the league among corners who played at least 197 coverage snaps. He allowed fewer receptions, yards, and touchdowns in the 10 games over the second half than he allowed in the first eight games of the season.
Awuzie is one of the tougher players on the team. He plays with a similar edge that DeMarcus Lawrence does on the defensive line.
After spending part of his rookie season injured and rotating in, Awuzie found his stride in the second half of 2018 and was one of the Cowboys better cover players. Going into his third season in the NFL, the Cowboys 2017 second round pick looks to be an ascending player that could make some noise for postseason awards.
Tony Pollard, Running Back/Kick Returner
The Dallas Cowboys went into the 2019 NFL Draft looking to find a gadget player they could use on offense, but just as important, they wanted a player who could contribute in the return game. They got him in Rookie Tony Pollard.
Over the course of three seasons and 87 returns, Pollard averaged 30 yards per kick return and returned seven kickoffs for scores. In 2017, Pollard averaged an insane 40 yards per return. He's an incredibly dynamic player with the ball in his hands and though he wasn't used much on punt returns, shows an ability to make people miss and read his blockers.
As Stephen Jones said, "he's got a little Alvin Kamara to him." As a ball carrier, Pollard averaged 7.7 and 7.1 yards per carry over his final two seasons at Memphis. He was dynamic as a receiver as well averaging more than 12.4 yards per reception over three seasons in college.
With Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys may not give Pollard enough snaps and touches to have an Alvin Kamara like rookie campaign (120 carries for 728 yards, 8 touchdowns and 81 receptions for 826 yards and 5 touchdowns), but if he's given half that workload, plus what he could do on returns, he'll make noise for Pro Bowl consideration.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
It was a bit surprising to go back and look at which linebackers made the Pro Bowl and not see Jaylon Smith's name. As good as Rookie Leighton Vander Esch was, Jaylon Smith might have been better. By standard metrics -- tackles, interceptions, tackles for loss -- Vander Esch totaled more. Advanced metrics like defensive EPA (expected points added) and playmaking EPA, favored Jaylon Smith's season.
Overall playmaking EPA rank among all NFL defenders: 5. DeMarcus Lawrence 7. Jaylon Smith 58. Leighton Vander Esch
Jaylon Smith didn't rack up the tackles like Vander Esch, but he was far more impactful over the course of the season. That's not to diminish Vander Esch's contribution to the Cowboys success in 2018. It's important to show Jaylon Smith his due, though.
Smith recorded four sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defended to go along with his 120 combined tackles in 2018. And that was just his second full season back from the devastating knee injury he suffered in college.
Another season removed from the injury should make Jaylon Smith more confident and more explosive in 2019, which should lead to another outstanding season for the Dallas Cowboys Middle Linebacker.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Don't let anyone tell you that Pro Bowls don't matter. They do. Sure, All-Pro awards are the more highly coveted recognition, but to the players and to their agents, Pro Bowl selections matter. It's not as exclusive, but in a league with 1,696 players being one of 88 is still a really nice honor. To be a Pro Bowl player mean's you're in the top 5% of NFL players.
Obviously, we'd all prefer none of the Dallas Cowboys play in the Pro Bowl. Because that would mean they'd be preparing to play for that elusive sixth Lombardi Trophy. The Cowboys have always provided quite a few participants to the Pro Bowl game, but if the participation was zero in 2020, it wouldn't be all bad.
Will “Rumored” Position Change Help Keep LB Sean Lee Healthy?
Rumors and speculation. That's the point of the offseason we have reached with the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL. That's not necessarily a bad thing because it means players are staying out of trouble, but it's still a slow time nonetheless.
Today, I'd like to dive into some of the rumors and speculation surrounding the Dallas Cowboys right now. I thought I'd start off with Linebacker Sean Lee, and his "rumored" position change heading into the 2019 season. I think it's something worth discussing, as it is just about anything involving General Lee.
If rumors are correct, the Dallas Cowboys are considering a position change for Sean Lee in 2019. He's been their starting weak side linebacker (WILL) pretty much ever since they went to a 4-3 defense, but could be making a move to the strong side (SAM) to replace Damien Wilson. If true, this is interesting on so many different levels.
Sean Lee was initially moved to WILL in the Cowboys 4-3 defense years ago in order to hopefully protect him from the reoccurring injuries he was sustaining year after year. The thought was he would be better protected by not having to fight through so much trash or take on as much contact on the weak side. This was true to some degree, but unfortunately the injury bug continued to bite.
With that in mind, it seems strange the Cowboys are considering moving Sean Lee to SAM since it's considered to be a more physical position to play than he's use to. There is a lot more physicality and contact involved playing on the strong side, which you would think would make him more susceptible to the problem that's plagued his entire career, injuries.
The thought process of having Sean Lee switch to a more physical position seems like a strange one on the surface. A player who has struggled to remain healthy his entire career moving to play a more physically demanding position seems odd, but not if you were to look beyond the obvious.
Yes, the SAM LB position is more physically demanding, but doesn't receive a lot of playing time in the Cowboys 4-3 defense. Damien Wilson only played 30.72% of the defensive snaps in 2017 and 27.93% in 2018. Playing less snaps could actually play in Sean Lee's favor and potentially keep him healthy. That would make the move a win-win for No. 50 and the Cowboys.
A healthy Sean Lee playing SAM would be an upgrade over Damien Wilson. It would also give the Dallas Cowboys arguably the best starting 4-3 linebackers in the entire NFL. You may disagree, but I challenge you to find a better starting trio. I don't think it's possible.
Of course, all of this is just a rumor we are forced to speculate about right now, but it's still interesting to discuss nonetheless. I don't know how all of this will play out in the end, but I can't really think of any reason why Sean Lee shouldn't get the first crack at replacing Damien Wilson as the strong side linebacker in 2019.
Maybe, just maybe this will be the move that will finally keep him healthy.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of Sean Lee making a position change?
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