QB wristbands will 'expedite' Cowboys' play-calling process

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys hope that wearing a wristband will help eliminate the need for Tony Romo to rush at the line of scrimmage.

Romo and the rest of the Cowboys' quarterbacks are sporting wristbands with numbered plays on them during training camp. The plan is to use them throughout the season as a way to streamline the play-calling communication process.

“Just to create more speed in terms of tempo and in terms of trying to get the play in quicker and faster,” offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, the new playcaller, said. “Just to alleviate [the need for] more communication. If we can streamline our communication to get the play in quicker and faster, he can get it and go.”

The Cowboys intend for Callahan to call plays from the press box. NFL rules forbid a coach in the press box to communicate directly to the speaker in the quarterback’s helmet, so Callahan will relay the play call to quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who will pass it on to Romo.

That process will be expedited by going with a numbered system instead of speaking the entire play. Callahan used a similar system while he was the head coach at Nebraska, and Romo and backup quarterback Kyle Orton have experience using wristbands earlier in their NFL careers.

The goal is to get the play call to the quarterback with no fewer than 28 seconds remaining on the play clock and to get the offense to the line of scrimmage with at least 20 seconds remaining, allowing Romo and the center ample time to make the necessary pre-snap calls and adjustments.

That was too often an issue for the Cowboys last season, when Romo had to rush to avoid a delay-of-game penalty on a somewhat regular basis. The Cowboys believe the wristbands will “expedite that process,” head coach Jason Garrett said.

“Rather than calling a full play to somebody and another guy calling the play and the quarterback finally calls it in the huddle, when you use a wristband, that speeds up the process,” Garrett said. “I’ve used them in my career as a quarterback. I’m comfortable with that. Wade Wilson has as well, and certainly our quarterbacks have used them at different times.

“My big thing with that is make sure you practice what you’re going to do in the games. Do it in practice, the comfort level come game time should be really high for those guys. We’ll be ready to roll.”