Dallas Cowboys: Did Amari Cooper save Scott Linehan’s job

Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys floundering offense came alive with the midseason addition of Amari Cooper, so did his impact ultimately save Scott Linehan’s offensive coordinator job?

The most disliked coach around Cowboys Nation is unquestionably the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan. Jason Garrett certainty enjoys his fair share of contempt, but many fans have made peace with his presence (They’ve also realized Jerry Jones loves the guy and won’t be kicking him to curb anytime soon).

It wasn’t too long ago Linehan was an absolute lock to be let be let go this winter. The Dallas Cowboys were offensively impotent and owners of a disappointing 3-4 record heading into the bye week. Hope was lost and unless the Dallas Cowboys did something big, they’d have nothing but the draft to look forward to going forward.

The Cooper Effect

Enter “Bold Move”. During the bye the Dallas Cowboys abandoned the WR committee approach and traded for a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver. After sending a first round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders, the Cowboys acquired former No. 4 overall pick, Amari Cooper.

All Cooper did was change the entire course of the season. He took a passing offense that averaged only 183 yards per game and turned it into an offense that averaged over 248 yards per game (including the playoffs).

Just because this offense improved doesn’t mean Scott Linehan started doing his job any better.

Amari Cooper’s addition not only slotted all other receivers on the depth chart more appropriately, but he pulled the defenses attention and helped Ezekiel Elliott who was previously facing eight and nine man fronts on an all-too-regular basis.

At the end of the day the Dallas Cowboys improved from the second worst offense in the NFL (31 of 32) to the 22nd ranked offense (in yards). That’s nothing to brag about per se, but the improvement the offense made in the middle of the season is no small feat.

Now we see many of Scott Linehan’s apologists saying Scott deserves to retain his position. They are saying once he was given the proper tools, he did the job well. After all, the offense turned into a strength down the stretch and led some pretty darn impressive late-season comebacks.

Well, those people are wrong.

Cause and Effect

Ignoring context is plague currently dominating the NFL landscape. Just because this offense improved doesn’t mean Scott Linehan started doing his job any better. He called the same horrible plays, the only thing that changed was elite players started bailing him out. One might say this team improved in spite of Scott Linehan.

Even with the best running back in the NFL, there’s no excuse for calling such a run-heavy game plan. Zeke did the best he could with the opportunities he had but a running back is at a sizable disadvantage when he gets the ball eight-yards behind the line of scrimmage and is asked to win against an overloaded box.

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We saw it nearly every week, Zeke ran more unsuccessful plays than he ran successful plays (for instance, less than four-yards on 1st and 10 is defined as an unsuccessful play). And in situations that called for Zeke (short yardage and inside the five-yard line), Linehan either called a transparent play up the middle or abandoned the high-percentage running game altogether.

Scott Linehan’s play calling was archaic before Amari Cooper and it was archaic after Amari Cooper. We saw different results because Amari made it happen. Not Scott. Amari and Dak even had to call their own audibles from time to time.

One can make the case (although, it would be hard) to keep Scott Linehan based on limited outside options available to replace him, but to say he’s in any way earned it, and offering post-Amari success as proof, shows a complete lack of understanding as to what causation really is in this situation.

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Amari Cooper saved the Dallas Cowboys’ season but he shouldn’t save Scott Linehan. Linehan’s individual performance is what needs to be judged and that showed little-to-no improvement even after Coop joined the team.

  • Published on 01/18/2019 at 13:07 PM
  • Last updated at 01/18/2019 at 13:07 PM