Scott Linehan is employed once more.
The longtime NFL assistant, who previously coordinated the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense (among others), has been hired as LSU’s new passing game coordinator, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman first reported earlier this week.
Head coach Ed Orgeron has since confirmed the news.
“We are excited about our staff and we are excited about Scott Linehan,” Orgeron said, via TigerDroppings.com. “We can’t wait to get to work. What a great hire for the LSU Tigers. He and Ensminger are going to fit along great together. He brought exactly what we wanted to our program.”
Sports Illustrated reported that Linehan signed a two-year deal with the university and will earn “about” $800,000 annually. He’ll work under OC Steve Ensminger and alongside incumbent wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph. He replaces Joe Brady, who literally changed stripes last month, defecting from the Tigers to the Carolina Panthers, where he received a promotion to coordinator from new HC Matt Rhule.
Linehan led the Minnesota Vikings’ offense (2002-04) before joining the Miami Dolphins in the same capacity in 2005. He was hired as the Rams’ HC in 2006 and fired in 2008, after which he spent 2009-2013 as the Lions’ play-caller.
The Cowboys brought Linehan aboard as the passing game coordinator in 2014. He was forced into an awkward setup with OC Bill Callahan, whom he formally supplanted in 2015.
Dallas finished 4-12 that year but improved the following season with rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott as the sparkplugs. The offense ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring and the 13-3 Cowboys captured the NFC East.
That would prove to be the highlight of Linehan’s tenure, however. The team was 14th and 22nd in points scored in 2017 and 2018, respectively, despite the Cowboys winning 17 combined regular-season games across that span.
Linehan was made the scapegoat last offseason, when he parted ways with the organization and QB coach Kellen Moore was elevated to OC. Moore was a breath of fresh air, his creative passing concepts helping Prescott to 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdowns — both career highs.
Dallas ranked first in yards per game, second in passing, fifth in rushing, and sixth in scoring with Moore at the controls.
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Linehan’s Outlook at LSU
The 56-year-old, out of football in 2019, steps into a pretty decent situation as LSU is fresh off its first National Championship since 2007. The program returns Biletnikoff-winning wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall, and now features much-hyped freshman tight end Arik Gilbert. The cupboard is anything but bare.
Linehan’s biggest challenge — the entire staff’s biggest challenge, frankly — will be filling the void left by Heisman-capturing QB Joe Burrow, the projected No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. Junior Myles Brennan is slated to succeed Burrow and the transition will make or break the Tigers’ title defense.
“Let’s face it — we have a great package here. We’re going to continue to do the things that we know how to do here,” Orgeron said. “I think Steve Ensminger does a great job of running this offense. He’s going to help Steve in the third-down game planning and the red zone and perhaps call some third down, some red zone. We’ll see how he and Steve work, I think it’ll be a great combination.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL