Lions Name Scott Linehan as Offensive Coordinator

Posted Jan 23, 2009

Linehan. (Photo: Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Allen Park, Mich. - Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz has announced the hiring of Scott Linehan as the team’s new offensive coordinator. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.

Linehan joins the Lions coaching staff after spending the past three seasons (2006-08) as the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. He is now entering his eighth season as an NFL coach, going on 20 years of coaching experience.

As a first-time NFL head coach, Linehan quickly put his stamp on the Rams in 2006 via the ground game, giving the ball to RB Steven Jackson 346 times in 2006 – the most by a St. Louis player in 20 seasons. Jackson finished the year with 1,528 rushing yards (3rd, NFC), 105 first downs (1st, NFC) and 2,334 all-purpose yards (1st, NFL), earning his first-career Pro Bowl appearance. Jackson averaged 21.0 carries per game over Linehan’s three-year span with the Rams compared with 16.9 carries per game in 2005 and established himself as one of the NFL’s big running threats.

Other Rams saw career bests under Linehan. QB Marc Bulger passed for a career-best 4,301 yards in 2006, setting franchise records with a 1.4 interception percentage and 588 passing attempts. His 370 completions for 24 touchdowns were also second in Rams’ history. That season, WR Torry Holt and WR Isaac Bruce finished with 1,188 and 1,098 yards, respectively, combining for 167 pass receptions.

In addition to his three seasons as an NFL head coach, Linehan brings four years of league experience as an offensive coordinator. He spent the 2005 season with the Miami Dolphins, improving the team’s total offense from 4,960 yards (29th, NFL) in 2004 to 5,198 yards (14th, NFL) in 2005 and bettering the run game from 402 rush attempts (31st, NFL) in 2004 to 444 (12th, NFL) in 2005.

That year, the Dolphins’ two primary running backs – Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – combined for 1,650 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. WR Chris Chambers earned his first-career Pro Bowl appearance under Linehan, finishing with 82 catches for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns, marking his only 1,000-yard season.

Linehan broke into the league as an offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings in 2002, helping the franchise to some of its best offensive seasons to date, ranking second, first and fourth from 2002-04. During his tenure, the Vikings compiled a franchise-best 36 consecutive games of 300-yards-or-more of total offense (2002-04) and, in 2004, compiled a franchise-best five games of 400-yards-or more of total offense.

In Vikings history, his offenses also rank first and second in total yards (6,339 yards, 2004; 6,294 yards, 2003), first and second in first downs (351, 2004; 350, 2002), second and third in touchdowns (51, 2003; 50, 2004), second in points (416, 2003), first in passing first downs (225, 2004), first in rushing touchdowns (26, 2002) and second and third in rushing yards (2,507 yards, 2002; 2,343 yards, 2003).

Minnesota’s top offensive players had some of their best years under Linehan, including QB Daunte Culpepper and WR Randy Moss, who each had career years while he was with the Vikings. Moss became the team’s featured ‘big man’ in 2002 after the departure of WR Cris Carter, starting 45 games over that span and garnering two Pro Bowl selections (2002, 2003) under Linehan.

Moss finished with 106 catches for 1,347 yards and seven touchdowns in 2002 while his 111 receptions for 1,632 yards in 2003 remain personal bests. He also tied a career high in 2003 with 17 touchdowns, a personal best he held until he brought in 23 in 2007 with New England.

Culpepper also had some of his best seasons with Linehan calling the plays, including a career year in 2004. That year, his second Pro Bowl season, Culpepper finished with a passer rating of 110.9 for the fourth-highest in NFL history and his 69.2 completion percentage (379-of-548), league-leading 4,717 passing yards, 8.6 yards per play average and 39 touchdowns still mark career bests.

Linehan was able to effectively utilize the Culpepper-Moss tandem over his three seasons with the Vikings, bettering the team’s total points to 390, 416 and 405, respectively, after Minnesota scored 290 points in 2001. He maintained the team’s solid performance through the air, as the offense ranked 9th, 4th and 2nd, respectively, throughout his three seasons.

But even with the dynamic passing game, Linehan also made significant improvements to the team’s running game. Prior to his arrival in 2001, the Vikings finished 25th in the league with 376 rushing plays for 1,609 yards (4.3 average). In 2002, Linehan helped the Vikings to the league’s top ground game, finishing with 473 rushing plays for 2,507 yards (5.3 average).

That year, Minnesota’s running game was led by Michael Bennett, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection following the 2002 season. He finished the year 11th in the NFL in rushing with a career-best 1,296 yards – his only 1,000-yard performance to date – on 255 attempts. In 2003, Linehan utilized a trio of runners – Moe Williams, Onterio Smith and Bennett – to finish third in the league in rushing with 493 rushing plays for 2,343 attempts.

Linehan coached collegiately for 13 years on teams that played in seven bowl games and won five conference titles: one Pac-10, two Conference USA and two Big Sky. Five of Linehan’s quarterbacks were drafted by NFL teams: Louisville’s Chris Redman and Dave Ragone, Washington’s Broke Huard and Marques Tuiasosopo and Idaho’s Doug Nussmeier.

He was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Louisville from 1999-2001, coaching the team to three bowl games and becoming the first Conference USA team to win consecutive league championships. A Louisville quarterback earned Conference USA Player of the Year honors in each of Linehan’s three seasons.

Prior to his time in Louisville, Linehan spent five years at the University of Washington (1994-98), advancing to four bowl games and winning the 1995 Pac-10 title. He also spent four total seasons at Idaho, his alma mater, as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (1992-93) and as the wide receivers coach (1989-90) and Linehan spent one season at Nevada-Las Vegas (1991) as the quarterbacks coach. While a coordinator with Idaho in 1993, the Vandals led the nation in scoring (47.5 points per game) and total offense (532 yards per game).

Linehan was a quarterback for Dennis Erickson’s Idaho Vandals from 1982-86, winning the Big Sky Championship in 1985 and earning Division I-AA playoff appearances in three straight seasons (1984-86). He signed as a rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1987, but a shoulder injury ended his playing career.

Born in Sunnyside Washington, Linehan and his wife, Kristen, have three sons: Matthew, Michael and Marcus.

The following is a Linehan’s college and pro coaching background:


Detroit Lions2009
 Offensive Coordinator2009
St. Louis Rams2006-08
 Head Coach2006-08
Miami Dolphins2005
 Offensive Coordinator2005
Minnesota Vikings2002-04
 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks2002-04
 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks1999-2001
 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks1998
 Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers1996-97
 Wide Receivers1994-95
 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks1992-93
 Wide Receivers1989-90