- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Scott Linehan wanted a reunion with Dallas coach Jason Garrett, which is why he’s the passing game coordinator for the Cowboys.

Now the former Detroit offensive coordinator is waiting to see how the live version of Tony Romo matches with what he remembers from the opposing sideline and what he’s seen on film.

“He’s been a little bit slow as far as out here physically doing things,” Linehan said of early offseason sessions with Romo coming off his second back surgery in eight months after a herniated disk sidelined him for the last game of 2013. “But he’s done enough for me to see that this guy’s really got some special qualities.”

The Cowboys opened a three-day rookie minicamp Friday with their third play-caller in three seasons in Linehan. The same goes for defensive coordinator, with Rod Marinelli replacing the demoted Monte Kiffin.


Marinelli and Kiffin were on the Dallas staff together a year ago. Linehan was calling the plays for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson before a four-game losing streak to finish the season kept the Lions out of the playoffs and cost coach Jim Schwartz his job.

Dallas took the play-calling duties away from Bill Callahan just a year after trying to ease Garrett’s load by giving those duties to him, and Garrett reached out to Linehan. They were on Miami’s staff in 2005, Garrett’s first year in coaching.

“We were doing some meshing and molding back then,” said Linehan, who was head coach in St. Louis for two-plus seasons before going to Detroit.

Now they’re doing some meshing again, as Linehan likes to call it - combining a Dallas system that’s been in place since Garrett’s first season as offensive coordinator in 2007 and a Linehan program that Detroit had for five years.

“If you’re going in and you say, ‘Hey, we used to call this apple but now we’re calling it orange,’ it slows you down,” Linehan said. “There’s no reason to do that. So we’ll keep the language pretty much the same as it’s been. We come out here so we can play fast and operate. That’s the goal.”

Callahan’s focus is back on the offensive line, which is where it was when Garrett brought him in two years ago. The switch in 2013 was mostly driven by owner and general manager Jerry Jones wanting Garrett to have more time for game-management decisions.

The latest change brings a coach who shares more of Garrett’s passing philosophy - but doesn’t want to be known as a pass-first coach. Garrett has been preaching balance, and the Cowboys made another move to improve one of the league’s worst rushing attacks by drafting an offensive lineman in the first round for the third time in four years.

The Cowboys believe running back DeMarco Murray can lead a strong rushing attack.

“We threw it a lot in Detroit but a lot of our passing game was designed to be a lot of what we didn’t feel we had in the running game,” Linehan said.

The defensive switch in Dallas is mostly about who’s running the meetings. It’s Marinelli now instead of Kiffin, whose title is assistant head coach/defense.

“The great thing about those guys is they know each other so well,” Garrett said. “They play off of each other so well. So it’s really a collective effort. It’s great having those guys.”

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