The conversation about who would and should call plays for the Dallas Cowboys persisted all season. It won't be Scott Linehan in 2019.
The Cowboys announced Friday they have parted ways with the longtime NFL offensive coordinator after five seasons.
"This was not an easy decision because of how highly we regard Scott Linehan as a football coach and as a person," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said in a statement. "He and I had some really positive, substantive and open discussions which took place in the latter part of this week, and we ultimately agreed that it would be in the best interest of all of the parties involved if we were to make a change at this (offensive coordinator) position.
"This was very much a mutual decision, and there was a great deal of common ground and shared understanding between both of us during our meetings. Scott has had an incredibly positive impact on our football team. He has been instrumental in the development and success of a significant number of our veteran and younger players. He is an outstanding football coach, a great friend and we wish him and his family nothing but the absolute best moving forward."
"As Jason expressed, we met on Wednesday and had a good, direct talk. At the end, we resolved that a fresh start was probably best for both of us," Linehan said in a statement. "The Dallas Cowboys have been nothing but great to me, first class all the way. There's a reason that they are the most valuable sports franchise on the planet. And I'll always respect Jason as a coach, and I consider him a good friend. I'll miss my fellow coaches and my players a great deal. But life is about change and growth, and I very much look forward to my next challenge."
The move is a 180 from just four days ago when Garrett told 105.3 The Fan that he expected Linehan to return for another season.
"We don't anticipate any significant changes to our staff," Garrett said then.
Few would argue some weren't needed in Dallas, despite an NFC East title and playoff victory against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cowboys' offensive output last week against the Los Angeles Rams -- 308 total yards, including just 47 rushing yards for Ezekiel Elliott, and 1 for 10 on third downs -- was merely the latest cause for concern.
Dallas finished 22nd in total yards and scoring in 2018, continuing an alarming downward turn from a unit that was 14th in both categories in 2017 and fifth in 2016.
The well-traveled Linehan, who first worked alongside Garrett in 2005 with the Dolphins, arrived in Dallas in 2014 and was tasked to call plays despite the presence of incumbent offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. The Cowboys catapulted to fifth in scoring offense and Tony Romo made his only All-Pro team, earning Linehan the official title of OC. His final two years, however, were marked by inconsistency in both the running and passing game.
The question now is whether Garrett, whose own job security is a constant talking point in Big D, will assume play-calling duties himself moving forward. Hard decisions will also need to be made involving the Cowboys' new version of the "Triplets" -- Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper -- as their rookie contracts expire.