- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The reshuffling of the Cowboys’ coaching staff is far from over this offseason.
New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will be given the right to choose his own assistants. Head coach Jason Garrett might be fighting for the right to continue calling the offensive plays.
With all due respect to the position coaches, deciding who will call offensive plays is by far the most important call Jerry Jones (hopefully with some input from Garrett) will make regarding the coaching staff the rest of the offseason. The Cowboys could go three routes:
1. Let Garrett keep the gig: Garrett made it clear this is his strong preference during his press conference the day after the season ended, stating that he believed the status quo was the best way to go.
Jones indicated otherwise during his radio appearance a couple of days later.
“Jason’s been in charge of the offense for the last six years,” Jones said on KRLD-FM, refusing to directly answer questions about whether Garrett would continue to call plays. “So we’ve got to look at it and say, how do we best use these assets?”
Many at Valley Ranch feel that hasn’t happened during Garrett’s tenure, despite the Cowboys piling up big yardage totals. Dallas has ranked between 14th and 18th in the NFL in scoring offense four of the last five years, creating a sense that a change is needed.
After Jerry said his peace, Garrett said he’d be open to handing over play-calling responsibilities to someone else during a radio interview hours later. Funny how that works.
2. Let Bill Callahan call plays: Callahan already has the offensive coordinator title. The Cowboys might actually give him the responsibilities.
Callahan has a worthy track record as an NFL play-caller. His Oakland offense ranked in the top 10 in yards and points for four straight seasons, peaking in 2002, when the Raiders ranked first in total offense and second in scoring offense en route to the Super Bowl (where they were defeated by Kiffin’s Bucs, coincidentally).
However, Callahan’s success came in the West Coast offense. Would the Cowboys want to use the scheme he knows best? Could he do a good job calling plays in Garrett’s scheme after a year of working in it? How about implementing aspects of Callahan’s West Coast scheme into the Cowboys’ offense?
If Callahan is calling plays, the Cowboys would have to consider hiring another offensive line coach, although assistant offensive line coach Wes Phillips is highly regarded at Valley Ranch.
3. Hire an outsider: It’s been widely reported that Norv Turner, who likely topped Jerry’s wish list, will land in Cleveland. That’s just as well for Garrett, who would have been in the awkward position of being the boss of a man who coached him with the Cowboys and almost returned to Valley Ranch as the head coach in 2007.
There are several other intriguing candidates who are available. Tony Sparano, who was fired after one season as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, worked under Garrett in 2007 when the Cowboys scored the second most points in the NFL and had a 13-3 record. Sparano, who is immensely respected by Tony Romo and Jason Witten, called plays the previous season when the Cowboys ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring.
Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. might be the best available candidate who has never worked for the Cowboys. His contract expired, and Carmichael might be willing to leave New Orleans for a play-calling role with Sean Payton returning to the Saints.