Linehan hired as Dolphins offensive coordinator
Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 1:56 a.m.
MINNEAPOLIS - Scott Linehan agreed to a three-year contract Wednesday as offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.
Linehan held the same job with the Minnesota Vikings for the past three seasons, overseeing one of the league's best offenses. Now he takes over one of the league's worst.
''Scott is the person we targeted as our first choice to be our offensive coordinator, but we had to wait until the Vikings finished their season,'' Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. ''He did an outstanding job in Minnesota, and they had one of the most effective offenses in the league.''
Also Wednesday, the Dolphins hired three defensive assistants, adding George Edwards, Travis Jones and Dan Quinn to the staff for next season.
After interviewing with Saban, Linehan told The Associated Press by phone that the security offered by Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga was too attractive to pass up. ''He's hired a new coach and given him a very good basis to retool here, and they're going to give him time to get it done,'' Linehan said.
Minnesota coach Mike Tice, who gave Linehan his first chance to coach in the NFL in 2002, has one year left on his contract. Owner Red McCombs also has the team on the market. ''I'm indebted to the Vikings' organization for giving me an opportunity,'' Linehan said.
Last season, the Dolphins were the fourth-worst offense in the NFL, averaging just 275.2 yards and scoring just 17.2 a per game. The 41-year-old Linehan came to Minnesota from the University of Louisville - where he spent three seasons as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Playing for coach Dennis Erickson, Linehan led Idaho to three NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances during his career from 1982-86.
Edwards spent last season as linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns after two years as defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
Jones joins Saban from LSU, where he was the school's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
Quinn worked the last four seasons in San Francisco, where he was the 49ers' defensive line coach the last two years.
Hackett's departure was expected after the Jets' 20-17 overtime loss to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs Saturday. ''It's good for the program that we're headed in a different direction,'' Edwards said on a conference call.
The Jets showed little imagination in their version of the West Coast offense, ranking 17th in the NFL in scoring this season even though Curtis Martin led the league in rushing with 1,697 yards.
Chad Pennington threw for 2,673 yards and only 16 touchdowns, while the Jets ranked 22nd in passing yards and managed 51 points in the first quarter during the regular season. Once Pennington returned from a strained right rotator cuff in December, Hackett went even more conservative. The tight ends were virtually invisible in the offense, and playmaker Santana Moss was hardly used after a breakout 1,000-yard season.
Perhaps most upsetting to team officials was the lack of offensive scoring in four games against Pittsburgh and New England, where they managed a total of two touchdowns.
Hackett started losing his supporters midway through the season. Edwards never gave his longtime friend a ringing endorsement, while Pennington would only say that he supported any decision Edwards made on the coordinator's future.
''I leave knowing that I've worked extremely hard and had a hand in the organization's recent success,'' Hackett said in a statement. ''We've enjoyed some wonderful moments.''
Heimerdinger's contract was up in Tennessee, where he spent the last five seasons. He was immediately intrigued when Edwards called him Tuesday to see if he would be interested in coming to the Jets. ''It's gone faster than I thought it would,'' said Heimerdinger, who signed a three-year deal. ''It's the fastest of anything that's happened to me. I'm still kind of spinning.''
Edwards wants more scoring, and he is sure to get it with Heimerdinger, who signed a three-year deal. In 2002 and 2003, the Titans produced the first two 3,000/1,000/1,000 yard seasons in the 45-year history of the franchise with McNair throwing for more than 3,000 yards, Eddie George rushing for over 1,000 yards and Derrick Mason recording 1,000 yards receiving.
Even though the Titans struggled with injuries in 2004 - McNair missed much of the season - the offense ranked 11th in the NFL.
''I've watched him coordinate, I've watched their offense. It's always intriguing to me,'' Edwards said. ''He was the first call we made.''
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he started the search for a new coordinator last week when Heimerdinger interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers head job.
''That gave us a head start in the process. We will be looking for someone who will allow us to maintain and improve our offensive philosophy,'' Fisher said.
Other prominent names included junior quarterbacks Alex Smith of Utah and Aaron Rodgers of California.
It's been two long years for Clarett, the running back who was suspended before his sophomore season at Ohio State for NCAA violations and never returned. Clarett initially won a ruling to enter the draft last year, but the decision was reversed by an appeals court.
Williams, then a sophomore wide receiver at Southern California, declared for the draft after a lower court ruled in Clarett's favor. After the reversal, he was not allowed to return to the Trojans.
The NFL draft takes place April 23-24.
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