Scott Linehan

Extra Points: 49ers, Free Agency, Brown, Linehan

The 49ers just lost a Super Bowl in devastating fashion, and now they have to shrug it off and turn their attention to the offseason. San Francisco is in a bit of a cap bind, so they’ll have to get resourceful this spring. They made a big splash last cycle by doling out big contracts to guys like Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, and Tevin Coleman, and general manager John Lynch recently signaled they won’t be nearly as aggressive this time around. “Those days aren’t happening anymore,” Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. “We can’t go to the grocery store and say, ‘I’ll have that, I’ll have that, I’ll have that.’ It is more like, ‘I’ll have that, but I might have to put that back.’ There are tradeoffs.”

Lynch and Kyle Shanahan probably have a trick or two up their sleeve and won’t stand completely pat, but don’t expect them to be big spenders. The 49ers currently have 22 guys set to be free agents, including some high profile ones like Emmanuel Sanders, Arik Armstead, Matt Breida, and Jimmie Ward. It’s likely they won’t be able to re-sign everybody. They’ll mostly be running it back with the same group of guys, and will be counting on Jimmy Garoppolo to guide them back to another Super Bowl.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Antonio Brown has already been dropped by his agent, and now he’s being dropped by an attorney. Brown’s counsel defending him against the rape allegations in Florida has filed a motion to withdraw as his lawyer, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (Twitter link). So far Brown is only facing a civil suit and not any criminal charges over the alleged sexual assault, and this is hardly a surprising development given Brown’s propensity to cycle through those around him. The embattled receiver is currently out on bail from burglary and battery charges.
  • Scott Linehan is resurfacing in the college ranks. The former NFL offensive coordinator is being hired as LSU’s next passing game coordinator, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Linehan had served as the Cowboys’ OC for four seasons before getting canned after the 2018 campaign. He spent this past year out of football, and is now latching on with the defending national champions. Interestingly, he’ll be replacing Joe Brady at LSU, the 30-year-old whizkid who recently became the Panthers’ offensive coordinator. Linehan, who caught a lot of flak during his last couple of years in Dallas, has also served as the OC for the Vikings, Dolphins, and Lions. He was the Rams’ head coach from 2006-08.

Jaguars Interview McAdoo, Linehan

The Jaguars interviewed former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo for their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). McAdoo, who did not coach in 2019, is looking to reboot his career after a dismal run in New York. 

The Giants fired McAdoo late in the 2017 season, ending a three-plus-year run with the team as offensive coordinator and head coach. The Giants threw him under the bus following the Eli Manning benching debacle and most fans were happy to see him go – the Giants went 13-15 under his watch. Prior to all of that, McAdoo served as the tight ends and quarterbacks coach of the Packers.

The Jaguars have been searching for a new OC ever since firing John DeFilippo, who was one-and-done in Jacksonville. The Panthers are also considering McAdoo for a spot on Matt Rhule‘s maiden staff.

The Jaguars are also slated to speak to former Cowboys OC Scott Linehan this weekend – presumably for the same post. Linehan will also speak with the Panthers and Giants, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen (on Twitter).

Linehan, 56, got the heave-ho from the Cowboys in January of last year. Like McAdoo, he was out of the NFL for the 2019 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Fire OC Scott Linehan

Days after receiving a vote of confidence from head coach Jason GarrettScott Linehan is out of a job. The offensive coordinator has been dismissed, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Soon after Rapoport’s report, the Cowboys made it official with a formal announcement.

According to a statement from Garrett released by the team, this was a “mutual decision” between the Cowboys and the Linehan:

This was not an easy decision because of how highly we regard Scott Linehan as a football coach and as a person. He and I had some really positive, substantive and open discussions which took place in the latter part of this week, and we ultimately agreed that it would be in the best interest of all of the parties involved if we were to make a change at this (offensive coordinator) position,” Garrett said. “This was very much a mutual decision, and there was a great deal of common ground and shared understanding between both of us during our meetings. Scott has had an incredibly positive impact on our football team. He has been instrumental in the development and success of a significant number of our veteran and younger players. He is an outstanding football coach, a great friend and we wish him and his family nothing but the absolute best moving forward.”

On Monday, Garrett told a local radio station that he did not foresee any changes to the coaching staff. Hours later, in a separate interview, he said that nothing was firm either way. Later, Jerry Jones did an interview of his own in which he made it clear that Garrett was not the one making the decision.

There were factors out of Linehan’s control – including the absence of offensive line anchor Travis Frederick – but there’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Cowboys offense underperformed in 2018. The midseason addition of wide receiver Amari Cooper opened things up, but the Cowboys ultimately did not have confidence in Linehan’s ability to steer the ship.

The Cowboys averaged 343.8 yards per game in 2018, good for just 22nd in the NFL. They also finished tenth in rushing yards, which fell below expectations given the presence of Ezekiel Elliott and the team’s reputation for having one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones On Elliott, Linehan

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is determined to hammer out new deals with running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence, and cornerback Byron Jones. However, he’s stopping short of any guarantees on those fronts. 

I want him in the short-term and the long-term,” Jones said of Prescott in a radio interview (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas News).

He expressed the same sentiment about Elliott, Lawrence, and Jones while tempering expectations.

Now, getting [those contracts done]…hell, I want a bigger boat,” said Jones.

This was an up-and-down year for Prescott, but the Cowboys seem committed to moving forward with the 25-year-old (26 in July). As it stands, they have the former fifth-round pick under contract for an $816K cap figure through 2019, which should work to the team’s advantage – given his relative lack of earnings to date, Prescott may take the security of a below-market long-term deal over the gamble of free agency next year.

New deals for Elliott and Lawrence will be expensive propositions, but the Cowboys are planning to devote a big chunk of their $54MM+ in cap space towards keeping the band together.

Later in the interview, Jones declined to give offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a vote of confidence.

This is the time when these things are thought about,” Jones said when pressed on Linehan’s future (Twitter link). “This is the time when you may see an opportunity next week that you didn’t know existed next week, in the area of personnel or the area of coaching.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Scott Linehan Back On Hot Seat?

Hold the phone. After giving offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a vote of confidence on Monday morning, head coach Jason Garrett walked back his comments just hours later. 

I think it’s a little early to be speculating about players, coaches, anything like that other than I really do think our group overall did a nice job,” Garrett told 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram).

Garrett went on to say that owner Jerry Jones has the final say on coaching staff matters, which probably means that Jones did not take kindly to Garrett’s Monday AM comments. For his part, Garrett claimed that he did not remember exactly what he said in the Monday morning interview.

The Cowboys offense was inconsistent – to put it mildly – under Linehan’s command in 2018. The Cowboys did manage a playoff win, however, before meeting their end on Sunday against the Rams. It’s possible that Linehan keeps his job, but nothing is guaranteed for the OC or anyone else on staff.

Garrett went on to divulge that his agent David Dunn has not had any discussions about a contract extension with the team. Late last week, it was reported that talks were underway between the two sides.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Keep OC Scott Linehan

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return for the 2019 season, according to head coach Jason Garrett (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas News). Furthermore, Garrett said he doesn’t expect any significant changes to the coaching staff. 

The Cowboys gave serious though to firing Linehan after the 2017 season and mulled a change during the team’s bye week in October. Ultimately, they stuck with him, and the Cowboys’ playoff run in January may have saved his job. The Cowboys won their divisional round game against the Seahawks before being forced out on Saturday by the Rams.

When Linehan refused to meet with reporters after the loss to L.A., many assumed he was done with the Cowboys. However, that’s not the case. Garrett is opting for consistency over change, perhaps with a belief that the return of Travis Frederick will restore order to the offense.

The Cowboys averaged 343.8 yards per game in 2018, good for just 22nd in the NFL. They also finished tenth in rushing yards, which probably fell below expectations given the presence of Ezekiel Elliott and the team’s reputation for having one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Mulled Firing Scott Linehan During Bye Week; Latest On Jason Garrett

The Cowboys’ offense has been anemic all season long, and the unit ranks 26th in the league in points per game (19.3) and 27th in yards per game (317.1). Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was “thoroughly evaluated” at the end of the 2017 campaign, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterated today that head coach Jason Garrett strongly considered moving on from Linehan at that time (video link).

And while Garrett elected to keep Linehan on board and went along with Linehan’s overhaul of the wide receivers room, Rapoport says Garrett again considered firing Linehan during the team’s bye week at the end of October. Indeed, Rapoport said that he thought Linehan was going to be shown the door, but Dallas reversed course and elected to fire offensive line coach Paul Alexander instead. But unless the 3-5 Cowboys are able to make a surge in the second half of the season, the entire coaching staff could be on its way out.

Indeed, Rapoport confirmed today that the Cowboys are not planning to fire Garrett before the end of the season, which we heard earlier this week. But his job security is tenuous at best, and if owner Jerry Jones ultimately decides to ax Garrett, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is one name to keep an eye on. The Jones family is fond of Riley, who has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Browns’ head coaching job, so if Cleveland wants to reunite Baker Mayfield with his collegiate coach, it may have to battle Dallas, and perhaps other clubs, for the privilege.

In the interview with Rapoport linked above, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network briefly mentioned the possibility that Garrett could take control of offensive play-calling duties in an effort to save the Cowboys’ season and his job, but there does not appear to be anything concrete on that front at the moment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Rodgers, Hawks, Linehan, Bucs

The Aaron Rodgers watch now includes a practice return. The Packers saw their best player resurface at Saturday’s practice after he’d missed all week of workouts. Although NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero points out Rodgers is still questionable (Twitter link) and the Packers will see how he looks Sunday morning, now that he’s gotten in a practice it’s a bit difficult to see the 34-year-old quarterback not suiting up Sunday against the Vikings. Swelling in Rodgers’ left knee remains an issue, per Pelissero (on Twitter), and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tabs it as unlikely the Packers will give their centerpiece a green light if he’s still sore or experiencing swelling from Saturday’s workout. But the 14th-year passer has dealt with myriad left knee trouble at several points in his career. That said, the Vikings’ defense may be the toughest unit he faces all season; and Minnesota’s front seven will be facing a surely less mobile Rodgers than it ordinarily would.

Here’s what’s new out of the NFC going into Week 2 Sunday.

  • Bobby Wagner serves as the anchor for the Seahawks‘ front seven, having played in 42 straight games. That streak will end on Monday night after the Seahawks declared their top linebacker out for their Bears game. K.J. Wright also will not play. Wagner is battling a groin injury, while Wright is still recovering from a knee scope. Perhaps this explains the team’s need to make the controversial decision to sign Mychal Kendricks, who may face prison time after pleading guilty to insider trading. Barkevious Mingo is the only starting linebacker Seattle will have available in Chicago.
  • Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan saw increased latitude this offseason in the team’s effort to restructure its offense, with Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writing the fourth-year Dallas OC was involved in the decisions to release Dez Bryant and move on from four offensive assistants. Linehan signed an extension in 2017 that calls for him to be paid approximately $2MM per season, George notes. This makes the Cowboys’ OC one of the NFL’s highest-paid assistants. George adds Linehan could well be on the chopping block if Dallas’ offense nosedives. The Panthers did not see much from Linehan’s unit in Week 1.
  • DeSean Jackson appears set to have another chance to face his original team. The Buccaneers wide receiver is expected to surmount concussion protocol and be on the field against the Eagles on Sunday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Jackson had his best game as a Buccaneer last week, hauling in five passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Cowboys Want To Keep Linehan, Marinelli

There will be some coaching changes in Dallas, but it sounds like the main coaches will be staying in place. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the team wants to retain offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli for 2018 (link via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News). Scott Linehan

Starting this week, the team will evaluate the futures of assistants such as running backs coach Gary Brown, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, and linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, who are on expiring deals. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker have already been fired, according to Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).

Both Marinelli and Linehand signed extensions with the team last March. The length of Marinelli’s contract is unknown, but we do know that Linehan is under contract through 2019.

Meanwhile, Jones says that he has given no consideration to replacing Jason Garrett as head coach.

It’s not even a thought for me,” Jones said. “I do like the fact that we’ve invested, if you will. We’ve got several years of Jason evolving in this profession in the NFL. There’s no question the familiarity with teams that we’re playing, especially in our division, is a big plus. You pay a big price when you make a change at the head coach. You pay some price when you make a change at any position coach situation. On the other hand, freshness we’re talking about, new ideas, nothing set in stone, that’s a plus too. But I think that Jason’s in a good spot. We’re in a good spot with Jason. He certainly has the mentality of doing things differently, again not just to be doing them differently, but basically recognizing that we’ve got some things we do need to do differently. We’ll make that happen through our assistant coaches.”

While several jobs are up in the air, there is one confirmed vacancy on the Cowboys’ staff following the retirement of tight ends coach Steve Loney.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rapoport’s Latest: Mularkey, Arians, Rodgers

It’s a busy day in the NFL, as some teams fight for the playoffs while others prepare for the offseason and their next head coach. Let’s take a look at some of the latest reports from NFL.com scribe Ian Rapoport on the eve of Black Monday:

  • Despite the fact that the Titans could clinch a playoff spot today, Rapoport says that head coach Mike Mularkey is in trouble, and if Tennessee loses to Jacksonville this afternoon, Mularkey could be fired. Indeed, he could be canned even if the Titans make the playoffs but lose in the wildcard round. Apparently, ownership is frustrated with the development of Marcus Mariota, and if the Titans dismiss Mularkey, they could go hard after Patriots OC Josh McDaniels.
  • Rapoport tweets that the Cardinals have not given up hope of enticing head coach Bruce Arians to return, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Arians is likely to step away from coaching after Arizona’s season finale today.
  • The Packers recently extended Davante Adams, and Rapoport tweets that the team will make an extension for Aaron Rodgers its top priority this offseason.
  • There are expected to be two head coaching openings in the NFC North, with the Bears and Lions preparing to look for their next sideline general this offseason. Rapoport names Patriots DC Matt Patricia as a top choice for Detroit, while the Bears could look hard at a QB guru for young signal-caller Mitch Trubisky. Rapoport tweets that the SaintsPete Carmichael, the longest-tenured OC in the league, could get a look for the Chicago job.
  • Both Cowboys coordinators (DC Rod Marinelli and OC Scott Linehan) are on the hot seat and will be thoroughly evaluated, per Rapoport (video link).