Play-calling duties less important if Garrett can overrule Callahan


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 2012, a loss to the Ravens resulted from poor clock management.  In 2011, it was a loss to the Cardinals — which came when Garrett fumbled his timeouts and eventually iced his own kicker.

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.

10 responses to “Play-calling duties less important if Garrett can overrule Callahan

  1. Feh. If Garrett doesn’t mess up those regular season games, he’d just mismanage the clock in a playoff game. It’s what he does, sometimes apparently all he does.

    It’s rare that you see a non-relative keep a job with one company based on so little productivity. I don’t care how smart he’s supposed to be (yeah, he went to Princeton, so what, we’ve seen a lot of schmucks come out of Ivy League schools); as a quarterback, assistant coach, coordinator, or head coach, what precisely has Jason Garrett ever actually ACCOMPLISHED?

  2. logicalvoicesays says: Jun 5, 2013 4:20 PM

    We are the Washington Redskins and we are better than you. #DCstandsforDivsionChampions
    You “won” one of the most lackluster divisions in football for the first time in a long time,then promptly imploded at home in the playoffs. Congrats,I guess.

  3. Garrett will not pull rank. No way, No How. Its his built-in save-my-job excuse.

    That way, when the **it hits the fan, he has someone else to blame.

    And yes Cowboy fans at some point the **it will hit the fan.

  4. What an absolutely messed up orginization. Why not just get rid of Garrett then? nothing will change until the owner decides to stay off the field. Jerra, needs to hire a GM and let him decide who coaches the team.

  5. I think this is a good thing for the team actually. As you pointed out, there were games that could have been won with better game management. I think the coverage of yesterday though is much to do about nothing. Everyone knew this was coming.

    Hopefully this will mean more of an emphasis on the run game in 2013, although my fantasy team really liked the production from Bryant. Romo’s stats are so high because the ‘Boys were playing from behind a lot.

    I think this team should be a bit better this year if it can stay healthy and avoid the stupid mistakes of the past. However, if they continue to get stupid penalties, injuries, and no turnovers, it will be another year of mediocrity.

  6. Jon Gruden would not be an upgrade over Garrett. I’d rather have Chan Gailey back.

  7. “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.

    Play calling isn’t just a matter of picking the best play. Each play should be a piece of a bigger picture where one play may be called to set up another play later.

    I think a team can lose that if they have too many cooks in the kitchen.

  8. Bill Calahan –

    *Lost the super bowl to Oakland’s former head coach against the Bucs because his playbook was essentially John Gruden’s playbook;
    *Resulted in the worst single season record ever in the history of the Oakland Raiders franchise (2-14);
    *Left the NFL for NCAA due to the fact that nobody wanted him after he dismantled Oakland;
    *Went to Nebraska, where he led that storied franchise to the worst W-L record that school had ever seen;
    Now Jerry Jones thinks this is an impressive enough resume to hand him the keys to the offense? Anybody? ANYBODY?? Buehler? Buehler?

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