Coach’s Corner: Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan Wants to “Amp It Up” for Zeke in 2017
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has a good problem when it comes to play calling: his All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott is a workhorse who gained 1,994 yards from scrimmage as a rookie including a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards. But Linehan has to strike a balance between getting the ball into the hands of a dynamic player like Zeke, while also monitoring Zeke’s number of touches (and subsequent hard hits).
In today’s Coach’s Corner, Linehan talks about the balancing act of getting Zeke a lot of action, but not overloading the star player.
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Q: Zeke had a heavy workload last season with a team rookie record for carries (322) plus 32 receptions. Do you have to be careful in your play calling this coming season in taking it easy with his number of touches?
LINEHAN: “We don’t really talk about ‘taking it easy’. We’re pushing forward with him, but we’re also being smart about it. The tendency is to have him in there for every play. That would be great if you didn’t have to play 16 games during the course of a season, and 80-or-so plays a game. We still have to manage that for him.
“But we certainly want to amp it up this year as far as his ability to affect the game, the run game and the pass game. So that’s a big focus for us and for him and our approach on offense.”
Q: How do you assess Zeke’s approach this offseason as he prepares for his second NFL season?
LINEHAN: “He’s been great. He’s a professional. He’s a great competitor. Zeke doesn’t say much. He’s a funny guy, he’s got a great sense of humor and all that stuff. But he’s serious when he’s out here. He’s about winning and doing things right. He’s got a great foundation coming from Ohio State.
“He showed that he was ready for prime time as a rookie. They came gunning for him. Just like Dak, these young players, they no longer sneak up or surprise. People study more, so they’ve got to be ready to take their game to another level. That’s what Zeke and Dak are doing.”