Lost in the news that Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan will call the plays in 2013 is the reality that, in the rock-scissors-paper world of the NFL, the head coach can pull rank and change the coordinator’s decision to something else.
On Tuesday, coach Jason Garrett didn’t disclose whether he’d have that power. Then again, Garrett didn’t disclose anything, refusing to confirm what had been announcing regarding Callahan and speaking at length about a “collaborative” process.
Still, every “collaboration” becomes another word beginning with “c” but with two fewer syllables if someone isn’t clearly in charge. In this specific case, it’s not clear whether Garrett will have the ability on a play-in, play-out basis to supersede Callahan.
Since owner Jerry Jones previously painted the ultimate decision regarding playcalling as Garrett’s, the Cowboys apparently won’t be taking a page out of the Redskins’ playbook. In 2009, owner Daniel Snyder stripped the play-calling duties from head coach Jim Zorn, yanked Sherm Lewis out of a bingo hall, and ensured that Lewis would call the plays without Zorn having the ability to make a change.
While it’s unlikely that Jones would take such an extreme measure, dysfunction has prevailed in Dallas during recent months, with plenty of confusion and inconsistency and an emerging sense that, if Garrett can’t take the team to the playoffs in 2013, someone else (like maybe Jon Gruden) will be running the show in 2014.
The change from Garrett to Callahan arguably arises from the reality that Garrett has a habit of losing sight of the big-picture coaching duties like, say, managing the game clock when trying to figure out what the next play will be.
“That’s one of the problems with head coaches calling the plays,” former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy told PFT back in 2011, specifically regarding Garrett. “They lose track of game management.”
In either season, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory ultimately was the difference between 8-8 and 9-7. Which could have been the difference between going to the playoffs and staying home. Which could have been, given the number of times in recent years teams have barely made the playoffs and then run the table, the difference between no postseason appearance and winning the Super Bowl.
While the Cowboys may not make it to the playoffs in 2013, if they miss the field by one game, it’s less likely that the reason will be Garrett’s failure to properly manage the clock because he was too involved with figuring out the next play.