OXNARD, Calif. -- When Bill Callahan called plays for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013, he did so from on up high from the coaches’ booth.
This year’s play-caller, passing game coordinator Scott Linehan, will be on the sidelines, starting with Thursday’s preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.
Linehan said he has been on the field calling plays since 2005. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson will be among the offensive coaches in the booth.
“A lot of it is that one-on one-communication,” Linehan said. “The only thing that would frustrate me being in the box is you would have to talk to somebody to talk to the quarterback or to get the quarterback on the phone. You talk to him but then you miss the opportunity for three other guys to hear the same conversation while you’re sitting down there. I can talk to Tony then talk to the receivers, talk to the running backs, talk to the O-line all at the same time.
"You can’t do that from the booth. That’s the thing I like the most. There’s kind of a feel for the game when you call it on the field … You get to see the game better upstairs but you call it a little bit more from the call sheet probably a little bit more maybe than on the field because you’re looking down at the call sheet because you can kind of see what’s going on. Maybe the last play you see something that perks up your interest a bit.”
Last year, Callahan had to call the play down to Wilson and then to head coach Jason Garrett for the final month of the season, and they relayed the play to Tony Romo or Kyle Orton.
“To me there’s five seconds that’s off that 40-second clock,” Linehan said, “so hopefully it gives you more time in the huddle and more time at the line of scrimmage.”
And also some time to talk to the quarterback before the communication goes dark before the snap.
“You don’t want to talk too much to them,” Linehan said. “I mean, you can give them some information, especially personnel or even, ‘Hey, I’m thinking this,’ and then call the play. You’ve got to be careful with that. Sometimes you put a bug in a guy’s ear and then you’re like, ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t told him that.’ It’s good with a veteran. I think it will be good with the older guy we’ve got playing for us. Not old guy, the older guy. I like to be a little more careful with the younger guys, let them play.”