Dallas Cowboys: Who Could Replace Linehan

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders answers questions during the post game interview after the game against the Baylor Bears on November 24, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Baylor defeated Texas Tech 35-24. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders answers questions during the post game interview after the game against the Baylor Bears on November 24, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Baylor defeated Texas Tech 35-24. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys could be looking for a new offensive coordinator at the end of the season, but they need to choose wisely.

With the firing of Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, Dallas Cowboys fans everywhere are clamoring for him to be the next offensive coordinator. However, truth be told he may not be the smart choice. I’m not against it, if it is done wisely, but they need to look at it realistically. There are more options, and Kingsbury may not be the best choice.

I’m probably going to upset a lot of people with what I am about to say, but the truth is, the Big 12 is not a really great conference. Sure, they put up a ton of points. But when you look at how bad the defenses have been, it is hard to say whether it is the strength of the offenses or the bad defenses. It does say something when seven defensive players are draft out of the entire Big 12 in 2018, and Alabama alone had eight.

On the flip side of this, parts of the offenses have found their way into the NFL. Look at how the Rams and Chiefs are playing, and you can see the spread, RPO, “Air Raid” style offenses all over the way they play. However, what we are also seeing is if you can stop them from scoring quickly, and can put up points yourself, you have a good chance at beating them. The problem is they score so quickly, NFL teams are willing to work the clock to keep themselves well within striking distance.

Kingsbury coming from the Big 12 would do better as an assistant for a year or two, so he can learn how NFL defenses adjust and play. Remember, a lot of teams worst defensive starter, is still one of the better players on defenses in college. The same philosophy we use on players (needing a year or two to learn the game), should be applied to coaches. So I’m not against Kingsbury, I’m wondering if the Dallas Cowboys will give him a year or two for a learning curve, or are they in a more win now mode. It would help that Jason Garrett is an offensive coach.

So who are the other options? Well, let’s look at some options.

The “Other” College Coach

If we are going to bring up Kingsbury as an option, then we need to also bring up Lincoln Riley. Much like Kingsbury, he has an uptempo offense in Oklahoma. However, much like Kingsbury, he doesn’t have NFL experience and is coming from the Big 12. Many feel Riley is prime for a head coaching gig, but he could take a year or two under an offensive minded coach as an offensive coordinator.

Riley is well loved in the DFW area, so adding him would certainly make the fanbase happy. Although he is the center of attention for the entire state of Oklahoma and he gets a lot of top talent there. For all of the knocks on the Big 12, Oklahoma is one of the premier coaching spots in college football.

He is young and has plenty of time to work his way to the NFL if he wants. I think he would make more money and might find a little more success at Oklahoma long term. He might want to try his hand at the NFL, and the Cowboys would be the smart move.

The Up and Comers

This is not the necessarily the young guys, but guys who haven’t been an OC or haven’t been in a little while. There are a few names that you may recognize, but not all of them have been much more than a position coach or assistant OC.

Darryl Drake – Wide Receiver Coach – Pittsburgh Steelers

Drake has been a WR coach for the Cardinals, Steelers, and Bears. Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown learned from Drake. Richard Sherman in 2015, said he admired Drake for how he coached the Cardinals wide receivers and thought very highly of him as a coach. His next steps are an assistant OC or OC. He has a good track record with receivers and has played in some powerful offenses.

Mike Munchak – Offensive Line Coach – Pittsburgh Steelers

Another Steelers coach, Munchak, might actually be better known for his playing days. He is a Hall of Famer from playing with the Oilers. He was the head coach of the TItans for two years, but has never been an OC. He was an offensive assistant to the Oilers, then offensive line coach for the Oilers/Titans, and is now in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been running a more spread style offense and he could bring that to Dallas if that is the direction they desire to go.

Mike Bajakian – Quarterbacks Coach – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This might be one of the most underrated names on the list. Bajakan has been an OC in college with Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Tennessee. He was also an offensive quality coach with the Bears. However, what has gained him the most buzz is his work with Jameis Winston. He understands the newer style of offenses and should be a name several teams will want to interview.

Dan Campbell – Assistant HC/Tight Ends Coach – New Orleans Saints

Of all the names in this section, Campbell might be the most recognizable. He is a former player for the Cowboys when Bill Parcells was here. Campbell is now coaching with Sean Payton and is in line to be an OC somewhere. He was seen as a leader when he was here and Jason Witten has spoken highly of him. Campbell is on a trajectory to be an offensive coordinator, and his ties to Dallas, along with the performance of the Saints this season should put him on any team’s list looking for a new OC.

The Old Guard

These guys have been a head coach or offensive coordinator before, but are now back on a road to gaining that position again. They may not be the young, up and coming guys many fans want, but they are names to consider.

Tom Cable – Offensive Line Coach – Oakland Raiders

Cable was a head coach of the Raiders at one point. And while he didn’t fair all that well, it was in Seattle he would find success. As the Assistant head coach/offensive line coach & run game coordinator he would help the Seahawks win the Super Bowl and have the fifth best rushing attack. He is responsible for some of Marshawn Lynch‘s best years. With the way the Raiders are going, Cable may be interested in moving on.

Mike McCoy – Offensive Coordinator – Arizona Cardinals/Jobless

If you judge McCoy just off of the Cardinals you may think he would be a terrible choice. However, his work with Cam Newton, Kyle Orton‘s great year in Denver, and his head coaching tenure with the Chargers, you would see McCoy is a far better coach. There is a feeling he is the quarterback whisperer, and he could help Dak Prescott become a better player. Since he is jobless, he could easily find his way onto radars as a possibility.

Norv Turner – Offensive Coordinator – Carolina Panthers

Any player or coach who had anything to do with the Cowboys Super Bowl runs in the 90s has to be included on this list. Turner has been around the league for a while and has adapted more than Linehan has in his years. At one point Jerry thought about having him as head coach, but hired Wade Phillips instead. Turner’s work with the Vikings in 2017 should raise a few eyebrows. But let’s be honest, this is all about Jerry Jones.

The Final Decision

It really will all come down to a few things on who becomes the next offensive coordinator if Linehan is let go or retires. Part of the decision will be if Jason Garrett is the head coach and how long Jerry truly sees Garrett being in Dallas. He may want to grab a head coach in waiting, like he did with Garrett. However, Jerry may want a shiny new toy for an offense in need of an injection of new philosophies.

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If the Cowboys also see Dak Prescott as their long term solution and lock him up with an extension, they could go in the way of a proven commodity to develop Prescott. They could also go with a younger more aggressive coach to try to bring more of what Dak ran in college. If they don’t think he is the long term answer, they may go more traditional with a deeper focus on the running game.

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None of us really know what Jerry Jones will do at the end of the day. All of the names above make sense one way or another. Then of course, Jerry could surprise us all and bring someone else in or promote someone from within. Any way you look at it, most people think the Dallas Cowboys need a new offensive coordinator. Then again, does Jerry?

  • Published on 11/30/2018 at 18:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/27/2018 at 13:37 PM