Emmitt Smith: 'Boys under Linehan were 'predictable'

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith believed the time was right for the Dallas Cowboys to move on from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

Smith, who is attending the Pro Bowl as an honorary captain for the NFC, took a few minutes Tuesday after the NFL's Pro Bowl kickoff community event to say in an interview with NFL.com that the Cowboys' offense became too obvious under Linehan.

"If that's all he's going to bring is the intermediate passing game and not extend the field with the quality of players that we actually have, maybe it's the right move," Smith said. "The Cowboys know a lot more than I do. Obviously, the offense is very predictable and in this league when it's that predictable, it makes it very tough on all the players."

The Cowboys parted ways with Linehan after finishing the regular season with a 10-6 record and the NFC East title behind the strength of one of the league's top defensive units and ground attacks with Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing.

Dallas' passing game, though, sputtered at times with quarterback Dak Prescott and finished the season ranked 23rd in the league. The Cowboys also ranked 22nd in total offense and 22nd in scoring.

The in-season addition of wide receiver Amari Cooper certainly helped out the team's ability to attack down the field. Cooper provided a boost with 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games after he was traded from Oakland to Dallas. Coopers finished 2018 with 1,005 yards receiving split between the Cowboys and Raiders.

The Cowboys' offense showed potential with Prescott, Elliott and Cooper down the stretch. But Smith believes Dallas became too predictable and easy to defend under Linehan, and the all-time-great running back hopes the next offensive coordinator can get more out of Prescott.

"You really don't know how good your players can actually be until you give them a chance to expand the offense, especially with Dak," Smith said. "You just cannot try to keep a guy in a box and expect him to preform, and make tight throws and windows where he's uncomfortable. That's just not the right thing to do. It's just not prudent in my opinion. I think unless Dak's ability is that limited, which I don't believe it is, it's just not prudent."

Prescott finished his third season passing for 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He averaged 242 yards passing per game, which ranked 22nd in the league.

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