- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones isn't quite ready to admit he made a mistake by insisting that Jason Garrett called plays the last two seasons.
But the Cowboys’ owner/general manager hopes the error of his ways will be clear after this year, now that Garrett has given up play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.
“The answer is, if it works and we break out of this 8-8 cycle on a positive basis, then I will wish that we’d have done it a couple of years earlier,” Jones said.
Jones realized after consecutive 8-8 seasons in Garrett’s first two full years as a head coach that his long-held belief that a head coach should have play-calling duties needed to be reconsidered. Suddenly, Jones decided that employing a “walkaround” head coach wasn’t such a bad idea.
Jimmy Johnson, the most successful Cowboys head coach in Jones’ tenure, tried convincing Jones and Garrett into delegating play-calling duties after Garrett’s promotion. However, Jones valued former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs’ opinion over Johnson’s.
“I felt that when he did become the head coach, the head coach being the coordinator on one side of the ball or the other [was best for the team],” Jones said. “And I’ve said that, and I got that really as much as anybody from Joe Gibbs. But we’ve got a game today that has expanded the scope of things to concentrate on. It’s just more than it was in years past, and we’ll benefit from that [change].”
So, in hindsight, was Jones wrong?
“Not really, because he knew that part of it,” Jones said. “That’s the most comfortable he was in his shoes. I could see where that would be the most comfortable he was, is having and being with the team in an offensive [role], using his knowledge and his background on offense.
“He still uses it, though. He still is obviously in real command of what we’re doing, so we benefit from that. Usually, a head coach has expertise on one side or the other and to some degree is a little bit reliant on the side of the ball that he didn’t spend his position coaching career. He’s usually, I’m not going to say hostage, but he’s counting on that other side of the ball to be pretty much delegated.
“To the extent that Jason with his skills can have better knowledge over on the other side of the ball, we’ll benefit from. And I see that. That’s what I see as our benefit, is that he’ll have and is and will have more attention to the whole picture, and certainly I think that’ll pay off for us in game-planning, game management, all of those areas.”
If it works this season, it’s fair to wonder whether the Cowboys could have made the playoffs the last two years if the owner/general manager – and head coach, for that matter – wasn’t so stubborn on the issue.