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.
Will Terrance Williams’ Run Of Bad Luck Continue?
To say that Terrance Williams has had a run of bad luck recently would be an understatement. First he breaks his foot, which kept him out of all of the offseason practices so far. Then, he ends up getting arrested on an intoxication charge, a Class C misdemeanor, on May 19 after crashing his Lamborghini into a light pole. Unfortunately for him, his bad luck could continue with training camp approaching because he could be looking at a demotion.
As things stand right now, I have a hard time seeing Williams being any more than the fourth wide receiver on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart. I have him behind Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and rookie Michael Gallup (in that order) right now, possibly falling even further. For now, I'll pencil him in at WR4 though.
I believe a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans wouldn't be too terribly upset if we don't see a lot of Terrance Williams in 2018. Fans have been unhappy with Williams for quite some time and many voiced their displeasure when the Cowboys signed him to a contract extension last offseason. But, he is still on the roster, which means we should probably expect him to stick around for at least one more season.
There is a cloud still hanging over Williams' head though. His intoxication arrest is still an open case and the league could decide to discipline/suspend him for breaking the NFL's conduct policy. That could impact his availability to start the season, which could ultimately determine where he exactly fits in on offense in 2018.
I know, it's a lot to take in, but that's how things stand right now and I don't things get much clearer when training camp gets underway. But, let's try to dive into this little deeper to try to determine what to expect from T-Will this year.
As I mentioned earlier, I believe Hurns, Beasley, and Gallup are the top three Cowboys receivers this year. If that proves to be true, Williams is looking at demotion. He may be nothing more than an insurance policy in case of injury.
Terrance Williams does have something going in his favor though. He has the coaching staffs trust, which means he could reprise the same role we have seen from him in the past. But, that's where his potential suspension comes into play.
If Williams is indeed suspended, that would give more opportunities to other WRs on the roster to prove themselves, particularly Michael Gallup and Noah Brown. I think these are the two receivers who could have the biggest impact on Williams' offensive role this season.
Gallup will without a doubt receive every opportunity to prove he's ready to hit the ground running as a rookie. I think he will be successful, which is why I have him ahead of Williams on the depth chart to begin with. Noah Brown on the other hand is the wild card here.
I'm a big fan of Noah Brown's. I believe he can adequately replace Williams as both a receiver in the passing game and as a blocker in the running game, something the coaching staff really values about Williams. I think he has a chance to leapfrog T-Will on the depth chart, but he's really going to have to have a good training camp to do that.
Having said all that, I still don't know exactly where Terrance Williams will fit offensively for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, but I think his bad luck will continue. I think he should probably just be an insurance policy in case of injuries, but will have to wait to see if the coaching staff agrees.
Do you think Terrance Williams' bad luck continues?
Alternate Universe: Where Would Cowboys Be With RB DeMarco Murray?
During the Spring of 2015 the Dallas Cowboys faced what most considered a difficult decision.
Following an unexpectedly successful 12-4 season in which the Cowboys won just their second playoff game since 1996, two of the team's main offensive weapons were set to hit free agency.
On one hand was wide receiver Dez Bryant, coming off of a career year and widely considered a top wide out in this talent-rich league. On the other hand was running back DeMarco Murray, also coming off of a career year in which he led the NFL in rushing yards.
Could the Cowboys afford to pay the somewhat aging running back in this NFL economy? Could they place a premier price tag on a wide receiver despite their run-first, ball control mentality?
Of course, this wasn't exactly an either/or situation, but the Cowboys did re-sign Bryant to a lucrative deal and allowed Murray to walk to Philadelphia.
Now Fast forward to 2018.
Neither Murray nor Bryant are on the Cowboys, Tony Romo is broadcasting for CBS, and Dallas has spent a top five overall pick on replacing Murray at running back.
DeMarco Murray announced his retirement from football last week, making much of Cowboys Nation (including myself) think back upon those Romo-era teams.
And it's really hard not to wonder, where would the Cowboys have gone if they decided to keep DeMarco Murray? Where would they be had they re-signed Murray, rather than spending a premium pick on Ezekiel Elliott a year later.
If we're being honest, Elliott is a much more dynamic runner than Murray ever was. He brings more explosion and reliability to the offense, and is arguably the best back in football. Even when Murray was the league's leading rusher, this really couldn't be said about him.
There's not much of a chance that DeMarco Murray would still be a productive RB1 in Dallas heading into 2018. His play significantly dropped over the years in Tennessee, even behind their solid offensive line.
Of course the value of the running back position has been devalued as of late, making the Cowboys selection of Elliott a questionable one to some around the league. Paying the league's leading rusher what they would've had to pay him back in 2015, however, would have been even more questionable.
Plus, the Cowboys were able to replace much of Murray's production in 2015 with Darren McFadden, even if the team didn't win nearly as many games.
There might be an alternative universe out there where Tennessee's Murray and Derrick Henry-led backfield existed in Dallas, but Cowboys fans are certainly not upset about having Ezekiel Elliott in a Cowboys uniform.
Even if it took them a top five pick to seal the deal.
Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number
When people consider whether the Dallas Cowboys should trade for Seattle Seahawks' Safety Earl Thomas, one rebuttal fans throw out there is his age, and for good reason. People get concerned about handing out contract extensions to players entering their age-29 season.
In the salary cap era of the NFL, it typically isn't good business to pay age as the team often doesn't get the value out of the player that the contract expects.
One position where I feel that isn't necessarily the case is at the safety position. Let's consider Earl Thomas' accolades for a moment and see if we can find some correlations.
Earl Thomas, in his eight-year career, has been to the Pro Bowl six times, missing out his rookie season and in 2016 when he only played 11 games. He's been selected to the NFL All-Pro's first team three times in consecutive years from 2012 to 2015.
So, let's go over to our friends at Pro Football Reference and see which other safeties have been to the Pro Bowl at least six times and have been selected as a first team All-Pro player three times.
Here's the list:
The first thing you'll notice is the elite players on the list along with Earl Thomas. The likes of Rod Woodson, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, Aeneas Williams, and Charles Woodson. Those are just the players whose career extended into 2000s.
Then if you consider Ronnie Lott and Cliff Harris, that's some amazing company.
The players with an asterisk are the players that are in the Hall of Fame. Reed, Polamalu, and Woodson will be in the Hall of Fame. Cliff Harris not being in the Hall of Fame is still an NFL injustice that needs to be righted as he was one of the key cogs to the success of the Doomsday Defense of the 1970s.
I know Deion Sanders is on the list, and he's only there because he did play some safety toward the tail end of his career, but we know that it was as a corner that Deion made his money. The key though is that Deion's switch to safety at the end allowed him to prolong his career.
Removing Earl from the discussion for a moment, the average length of the careers of the men mentioned above was 13.41 years. The longest career was Charles Woodson at 18 years followed by Deion at 17 and Brian Dawkins at 16 years. The shortest careers were the 10-year careers of Cliff Harris and Joey Browner.
So, if Earl Thomas, having played eight years, played to the short end of the career length, he'd still have another two years left, this season included. If he played to the average length of those listed above, he'd have another five years left.
Considering that half of the players listed above all played longer than the average, there's a good chance that Earl Thomas has another six to seven years left in his career.
So, when we think about an extension for Earl Thomas, we have to consider the fact that for someone who has had the career that he's had to this point, he's going to be able to play at a good to great level for the life of a four-year extension.
Earl Thomas is an elite player and is on track to one day be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If the Dallas Cowboys could add that to their young and developing defense for the next four years, they shouldn't worry about his age.
Obviously, anything can happen, and people may point to him missing games in each of the last two seasons, but prior to 2016, Earl Thomas played and started 100% of his team's games. That's a six season stretch of being available for every single game.
For a team that is really close to contention and has the makings of an elite defense, Earl Thomas could be the missing piece that could put them over the top, much like Charles Haley did for the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty of the 1990s.
Don't let the age thing distract you from adding one of the best safeties in the NFL and one of the best players in the league. Earl Thomas to the Dallas Cowboys just makes too much sense not to do it, and for the All-Pro safety, age is just a number.
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