Myth Buster: Cowboys Coordinator Linehan Loves Pass Plays


Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan looks up before the game against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Linehan will have a lot of success in Dallas. That’s the primary reason I can’t wait for the 2014 NFL season to start. Linehan’s hiring is questioned only because the Lions had a lot of passing attempts. This aspect was talked about so much, I almost believed it myself. Then I remembered Reggie Bush and how he was used in the Lions’ offense.

The Detroit Lions Offensive Stats


Passing Attempt Rank

# of Passing Attempts

Yards Per Game

W – L Record





7 – 9





4 – 12

I believe this is an instance where stats might be deceiving. Teams losing in games tend to pass the ball more so that contributed to elevated passing attempts. Another factor is having wide receiver Calvin Johnson as your best offensive weapon. That makes passing the ball a priority.

Is it possible to win with a pass heavy offense? Well, the Denver Broncos reached the Super Bowl with the 2nd most passing attempts this past season. The Broncos had 675 attempts with 340 yards per game and finished 13 – 3. Even though the Broncos fell short, they may have proven that passing the ball isn’t a bad thing. Just don’t lose sight that they also managed to have a 1,000 yard rushing back. The Broncos ranked 13th with 28.3 rushing attempts per game.

In 2013, the Detroit Lions signed running back Reggie Bush from the Miami Dolphins. Bush wasn’t thought of as a “between the tackles” runner until he joined the Dolphins. It was there, he finally recorded his first 1,000 yards rushing season with 1,086 yards in 2011. Bush followed that with 986 yards in 2012. In his first season with Detroit, Linehan gave Bush 223 rushing attempts and he finished with 1,006 rushing yards.

In Dallas, DeMarco Murray was given 217 rushing attempts and finished with 1,124 rushing yards. This could prove that Murray is a better running back than Bush. One could also say the Cowboys are better at rushing the ball than the Lions. Either way, the success the Cowboys had rushing the ball will allow Linehan to expand his play calling to include more rushing attempts.

While Linehan considers designed passes to his running back as an extension of the passing game, don’t believe the myth that all he calls is passing plays. The Lions ranked 15th in the league in rushing attempts averaging 27.7 per game, while the Cowboys ranked 30th and averaged 21 attempts per game. If anything, expect that we’ll run the ball more because we’ll be better able to do it and the Cowboys will be playing with a lead.

Comparing Receiving Stats of Reggie Bush & DeMarco Murray in 2013

Reggie Bush


DeMarco Murray


Games Played

















The increased number of targets for Reggie Bush indicate that Murray is going to be a big part of the passing game and the overall Cowboys offense. In Dallas, Linehan will gain control of an offense that is a better running team and has a more productive running back (when healthy). I expect great things next season, offensively.

Hopefully, enough improvements will be made on the defensive side of the football this off season. If they can give up less than 27 points per game (ranked 26th), it will take a lot of pressure off Romo and the offense. Our off season defensive moves should determine how high Cowboy Nation sets the bar of expectations regarding next season. Til then – Don’t Believe the (Negative) Hype!