Dallas Cowboys: Norv Turner

Cowboys' top plays: Aikman to Harper

July, 7, 2014
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Alvin Harper and Troy AikmanUSA TODAY Sports
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This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in team history. In the next two days we’ll include the sack of Bob Griese by Bob Lilly in Super Bowl VI and Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary touchdown pass to Drew Pearson in the 1975 playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings. Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys’ most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 30, 49ers 20
Date: Jan. 17, 1993 Site: Candlestick Park

If you’re looking for the moment the Dallas Cowboys took over as the best team in football in the 1990s, this was it.

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With San Francisco scoring a touchdown to cut the Dallas lead to 24-20 with 4:22 to go in the NFC Championship Game, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson told offensive coordinator Norv Turner to attack. On the first play of the ensuing drive and with the 49ers expecting a run, Troy Aikman connected with Alvin Harper on a 70-yard completion.

That Harper caught the pass was something of a surprise. He lined up to Aikman’s left only because Michael Irvin switched positions. Having run the play a few times earlier in the game, Aikman had thrown to Harper in the slot. Once he heard the play called in the huddle, Irvin switched to the slot believing the ball would come to him with the game and season on the line.

Seeing a blitz before the snap, Aikman knew the ball had to go to Harper on a slant quickly. The receiver won at the line of scrimmage and sprinted to the 49ers 9-yard line before getting tackled.

Three plays later, Aikman found Kelvin Martin for the game-clinching touchdown and the Cowboys had earned their first Super Bowl trip since 1978.

Two weeks later, the Cowboys would win their first of three championships in a four-year span by whipping the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, but the Aikman-to-Harper pass is the moment when the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys arrived.

The play signified Johnson’s willingness to take a chance when other coaches would have run the ball to kill the clock, especially on the road. Going to Harper in a big moment showed Aikman’s precision as a passer and decision-maker.

Aikman-to-Harper didn’t end in a touchdown, but it did spark a Super Bowl run that had been unmatched up to that point.

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Ernie Zampese wins PFWA award

June, 9, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese was named to the inaugural four-man class as winners of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Zimmerman was a long-time Sports Illustrated writer and loved the X's and O's of the game, spending hours with assistant coaches across the NFL. The award is a lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL.

Joining Zampese in the class are Howard Mudd, Fritz Shurmur and Jim Johnson.

“I had some great quarterbacks who ran the offense great,” Zampese told Peter King of TheMMQB. “It comes back to being in the perfect spot so many times. In Dallas, what a great position that was to be in, with such great offensive talent.”

Zampese was an NFL assistant coach from 1979-99 with the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Cowboys and New England Patriots. He was a Don Coryell disciple and was one of Norv Turner’s mentors.

From 1994-97, he directed the Cowboys' offense with the Triplets – Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. He served as a consultant with the Cowboys in 2000-01.

In his Hall of Fame speech, Aikman called Zampese, “one of the best offensive minds and greatest people that this game has ever known.”

After clinching a spot in Super Bowl XXX, Aikman said of Zampese, “He’s just tremendous the way he prepares for a game. Not very often do we go into a game when a team throws something at us that Ernie hasn’t anticipated.”

Cowboys' 1991 draft earns high marks

April, 9, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- There was a time when the way the Dallas Cowboys ran their draft room was the envy of the league.

One of those years was back in 1991 and Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth ranked the Cowboys selecting Russell Maryland and Alvin Harper that year as ninth best on the all-time list of teams with two first-round picks.

The Cowboys actually had three first-round picks that year thanks to a deal with the Washington Redskins, but traded Kelvin Pritchett to the Detroit Lions for picks in the second, third and fourth rounds.

In Maryland, the top overall pick, the Cowboys got a vital piece to their vastly underrated defensive line. In Harper, the No. 12 pick, they got a complement to Michael Irvin who Norv Turner knew how to maximize.

In trading Pritchett, who had a solid career, the Cowboys got linebacker Dixon Edwards, guard James Richards and defensive end Tony Hill. Edwards was a starter, but Hill lasted two seasons and Richards didn’t make the team.

The Cowboys had two first-round picks in 1992, 2005 and 2008 as well.

In 1992, they took cornerback Kevin Smith (No. 17) and linebacker Robert Jones (No. 24), who became starters on Super Bowl teams. In 2005, they took outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (No. 11) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (No. 20). Ware became the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks. In 2008, the Cowboys selected running back Felix Jones (No. 22) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (No. 25). Neither signed a second contract, although Jenkins had a Pro Bowl season.

Analyzing what Weeden could mean

March, 14, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Judging from the reaction on Twitter to the Dallas Cowboys' interest in Brandon Weeden, not many of you want to see the former Cleveland Browns quarterback with the Cowboys.

Let me offer up a way the addition of Weeden could make sense.

Weeden
With Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Weeden, the Cowboys would be set on the position for 2014 and it would probably take them out of picking a quarterback in the draft. The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out in 2012 but obviously not at the first-round level. He is older, but they viewed that as a positive and were not viewing him as a possible long-term replacement.

Things went poorly for Weeden in Cleveland. He deserves blame, but the Browns deserve a lot of blame too. He had two different coaches, two different coordinators and the guy who selected him, Mike Holmgren, was gone too. So there is that to consider. A fresh start might serve him well and I'd have to think Jason Garrett would get a read on Weeden from Norv Turner, who was his coordinator last year.

The Browns have been a place where every quarterback has gone to die, so taking a low-risk, low-cost flier on a quarterback you liked just two years ago makes some sense.

So let's fast forward to training camp and the preseason. Let's say another team loses a quarterback to injury and wants to find veteran help. We can all assume that there won't be a lot of quarterbacks available that can step in and play right away, right?

How high would a guy like Orton be on the list for a lot of teams? He threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in his only start last year. He played extremely well in that loss; better than anybody ever expected.

If Weeden performs well enough (however you want to define that), then the Cowboys could feel comfortable in trading Orton to a team with a big need at quarterback and get a draft pick in return. Remember, this is Orton's last year under contract. If the Cowboys trade Orton before the season starts, but after July 1, then they would gain $3.25 million in cap space in 2014.

Provided he does not retire, which would be unexpected, Orton is set to count $2.254 million in dead money against the cap because of the two voidable years remaining on his contract. So the Cowboys would gain cap space that they could use to roll over in 2015 and get a draft pick for a player they were not going to keep anyway.

Does that make you feel any better?

A look at Cowboys' last two coach searches

January, 9, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys are not in a search for a head coach. Jason Garrett will be back for his fourth full season in 2014.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Lovie Smith) and Houston Texans (Bill O’Brien) have landed their guys. The Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings are still in the search process.

And they have been elaborate.

The Redskins’ list has 11 names, including Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia. Bisaccia’s name has turned up in the Titans’ chase too. A lot of the searches have the same names with guys like Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer, Ken Whisenhunt, Todd Bowles, Jim Caldwell, Dan Quinn and James Franklin.

In 2007, Jerry Jones cast a wide net to find Bill Parcells’ successor.

He interviewed 10 coaches, including three from Parcells’ staff -- Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Todd Bowles -- and a former assistant in Gary Gibbs. Unlike the Redskins, he did not interview any assistant from NFC East teams.

Including Wade Phillips, who was Jones’ pick, and Garrett, who took over for Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season, eight of the 10 interviewees became head coaches: Sparano with the Miami Dolphins, Haley with the Kansas City Chiefs, Norv Turner with the San Diego Chargers, Ron Rivera with the Carolina Panthers, Jim Caldwell with the Indianapolis Colts and Mike Singletary with the San Francisco 49ers.

Only Bowles and Gibbs have not been named head coaches, although Bowles has a chance in Cleveland or Minnesota.

Of the eight the only two not to take their team to the playoffs are Garrett and Singletary.

In 2010, Jones’ search was not as prolific. He liked what Garrett did in taking over for Phillips in finishing 5-3 without Tony Romo, who was out with a broken collarbone. Jones interviewed wide receivers coach Ray Sherman and also brought Bowles back for another look.

The job was always going to be Garrett’s so Jones did not need to put out a lot of feelers.

Jones could be in the head -oach business in 2015 if things do not go well for the Cowboys. The feeling is that the next search will look more like the one in 2007 than 2010.


IRVING, Texas -- Just a few days after the Dallas Cowboys' season ended, it was clear that Jason Garrett's days as a play-caller were going to come to an end.

When we talked to Garrett the day after the regular-season finale, the coach said he anticipated the status quo when it came to the calling of plays in 2013. The next day on KRLD-FM, owner and general Jerry Jones said everything was up for discussion and then Garrett told the station he would be open to giving up the duties.

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Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com joins Galloway & Company to discuss Jerry Jones hinting that Jason Garrett will not be calling offensive plays for the Dallas Cowboys next season.

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Funny how that stuff works, isn't it? Remember when Garrett said the team would look at other kick returners early in the season only to be followed the next day by Jones saying Felix Jones would remain the kick returner? Well, what do you know, Felix Jones remained the kick returner. It's the same sort of deal here, and it's a reminder that this is and will always be the Jerry Jones Show, especially if coaches don't win.

He was happy to stand to the side for a few years when Bill Parcells came on board but then got itchy. And when the team didn't win a playoff game in Parcells' four seasons, Jones did not try to talk Parcells out of retirement. It gave Jones the chance to say, "Hey, I tried it your way and it didn't work, so we're going back to my way."

Garrett had two full seasons to do it his way, so to speak, and produced a 16-16 record. Now Jones is showing he's in charge.

Which is why Bill Callahan looks to be the next play-caller if you want to read between the lines on Jones' comments from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Yes, the move would neuter Garrett, to a degree, but it'd actually be the best of a worst-case scenario for Garrett.

Should the Cowboys go outside the Valley Ranch surroundings for a new play-caller -- someone like Norv Turner, Pete Carmichael or Hue Jackson -- Garrett would be further muted as head coach.

Garrett would have had no say over the offense if an outsider had come on board.

Turner would've run the same offense, but he would've been all-powerful when it came to the game-day specifics. With Carmichael or Jackson -- or any other coach outside the building -- Garrett would not have had the background in the new offense.

And if the Cowboys want to go that route, then Jones just needs to put an end to the Garrett Era.

If Callahan is the choice, Garrett will be able to keep his thumbprint on the offense. The plays will largely be the same the Cowboys have run since Garrett joined the team in 2007. Callahan was not in the passing game meetings last year; Garrett ran those. Callahan does not have the depth of knowledge in Garrett's passing game as he does in a West Coast scheme. And they will not be making a seismic shift to the West Coast offense with Tony Romo as the quarterback.

If they do that and make a seismic shift on defense from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme, then this team will not compete in 2013. It might not be able to compete anyway, but two gigantic changes would make Garrett's job even more impossible.

With Callahan calling plays, Garrett could be in Callahan's ear and offer suggestions that can be viewed as commands.

When Sean Payton and Tony Sparano called plays for the Cowboys, they ran Parcells' offense. Parcells did not let either coach go off on their own when it came to calling the plays. He kept a strong hand on top of them -- which some of you might remember more as a bad thing than a good thing -- and would intervene at times.

Jones will attempt to spin the move as a positive for Garrett, but it's not. Would Jones the general manager be happy if somebody came in to make the draft decisions? Of course not. And that will never happen, as we all know.

But, for Garrett, the move to Callahan would give him some chance to maintain a sliver of offensive control.

It would be up to him to use it as he sees fits, but I can't imagine he would just goes quietly into that good night during the week and during the games.

Is any playcaller a good playcaller in Dallas?

January, 14, 2013
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With Norv Turner apparently off to Cleveland, the Dallas Cowboys will not be getting the No. 1 offensive coordinator on the market this offseason. Whether they wanted him or not, whether he'd have been a good fit in Dallas or not, these things are irrelevant. He's not coming. The question remains now whether the Cowboys need to take playcalling duties away from head coach Jason Garrett and give them to someone else, and it's only natural to consider as a candidate Bill Callahan, who currently holds the official title of offensive coordinator (and offensive line coach) but does not call the plays. Todd Archer considers Callahan as a candidate:
What did Callahan do so well in 2012 for the Cowboys that he deserves to get a promotion and call the plays in 2013?

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Do the Cowboys need an offensive coordinator other than head coach Jason Garrett?

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Wasn’t the offensive line the weakest part of the team? Wasn’t the lack of a running game a killer? And wasn’t Callahan the guy responsible for the running game?

...

Let’s say Callahan becomes the playcaller, do the Cowboys have to find another offensive line coach? If not, can an O-line coach and coordinator handle all he has to handle between series and work the adjustments with the line? Several people at Valley Ranch believe Wes Phillips, the assistant line coach, has a bright future. Is he ready for more responsibility?

Maybe naming Callahan the new play caller works out in 2013, but it doesn’t answer many immediate questions. In fact, it might just lead to more.

I'm with Todd here, folks. Of course, I'm not necessarily in the camp that believes taking playcalling duties away from Garrett is among the Cowboys' biggest offseason needs. But assuming they're looking into that, I think Todd's points about Callahan as a candidate are well taken. He should probably do the job for which he was hired -- fixing the offensive line -- before he gets a promotion.

Has Bill Callahan earned a promotion?

January, 14, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones said he wanted to make things uncomfortable at Valley Ranch and two-plus weeks into the offseason the Cowboys owner and general manager has done just that.

Last week, it was largely the defensive side of the ball that felt discomfort. This week it could be the offensive side of the ball.

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Do the Cowboys need an offensive coordinator other than head coach Jason Garrett?

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Discuss (Total votes: 13,536)

We’ve debated the merits of who becomes the play caller in 2013 from Jason Garrett to Norv Turner to Bill Callahan.

Over the weekend, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Jones is pushing for Garrett to give up the duties. Well, Turner is apparently off to Cleveland, which leaves Callahan.

In the last couple of weeks our own Jacques Taylor and Tim MacMahon have pumped up the move for Callahan to call plays in 2013. They cited Callahan’s work as Oakland’s playcaller when the Raiders made their last run to a Super Bowl. Of course, that came in 2002 and it was a completely different offensive system.

But I’ve made that point already.

I’ll make another point: What did Callahan do so well in 2012 for the Cowboys that he deserves to get a promotion and call the plays in 2013?

Wasn’t the offensive line the weakest part of the team? Wasn’t the lack of a running game a killer? And wasn’t Callahan the guy responsible for the running game?

There were some injuries. The Cowboys started three different centers in Phil Costa, Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Tyron Smith missed a game with an ankle injury. Nate Livings was banged up but didn’t miss a game. DeMarco Murray missed six games with a foot sprain.

But if injuries weren’t an excuse for Rob Ryan, they can’t be for Callahan either.

Did Smith play as well at left tackle as he did at right tackle as a rookie? Not in my view. Right tackle Doug Free was a mess only until he had to start splitting time with Jermey Parnell the last month of the season. Surely Callahan had some say in the decisions to sign Livings and Bernadeau in free agency.

Let’s say Callahan becomes the playcaller, do the Cowboys have to find another offensive line coach? If not, can an O-line coach and coordinator handle all he has to handle between series and work the adjustments with the line? Several people at Valley Ranch believe Wes Phillips, the assistant line coach, has a bright future. Is he ready for more responsibility?

Maybe naming Callahan the new play caller works out in 2013, but it doesn’t answer many immediate questions. In fact, it might just lead to more.

So who calls Cowboys' offensive plays?

January, 11, 2013
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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.
IRVING, Texas -- The sun should not set again with Jason Garrett as coach if Jerry Jones isn't committed to him beyond next season, regardless of whether the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs.

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Either ride with Garrett or get rid of him. Anything else is a colossal waste of time.

Hey, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired coach Mike Mularkey on Thursday after one season, so it's not like there's some statute of limitations on firing coaches once the season ends.

Jerry made it clear he's the person calling all the shots with his soliloquy about the factors that led to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's dismissal while taping his weekly TV show.

Monte Kiffin is considered the leading candidate to replace Ryan. Kiffin spent the past three seasons at Southern Cal coaching with his son, Lane, the head coach.

Kiffin's claim to fame is creating the Tampa 2 defensive scheme that involves playing the safeties deep and limiting big plays, forcing an opponent to drive methodically down the field.

The Cowboys' defensive assistants already have been told they will have to interview with the new defensive coordinator. If he chooses to keep them, fine. If not, they'll be unemployed.

There's also a possibility Jerry will yank the play-calling duties away from Garrett and hire someone else to call plays. Norv Turner, fired by San Diego, would be near the top of the wish list.

Whether Jerry hires Turner or someone else, that person will get an opportunity to add assistants familiar with his offense and philosophical approach.

Now, we're talking about the potential addition of two coaches who have considerable more loyalty to the owner than the head coach.

How dumb is that?

To read the rest of the column, click here.

Jerry shouldn't force Norv on Garrett

January, 8, 2013
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Ed Werder has a theory that the Dallas Cowboys' firing of running backs coach Skip Peete on Monday could be the start of a series of firings on the offensive coaching staff. Ed believes, based on the conversations he's had with people close to the situation, that there's a chance Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants to clear room on the coaching staff to allow him to hire Norv Turner as offensive coordinator and take playcalling duties out of the hands of head coach Jason Garrett. It's all here in this video clip from SportsCenter this morning:
"As this process continues, it’s possible that if Jones does decide that Jason Garrett’s not going to be the offensive playcaller going forward as he has been to this point, that he will continue to fire members of the offensive coaching staff in a move to try to bring offensive coordinator Norv Turner in to call plays for Tony Romo as he did during their glory days for Troy Aikman," Ed says.

"One of the obstacles to Turner returning to Dallas is that he would want to bring many members of his own offensive coaching staff… so they would obviously have to create some vacancies."

To those who are clamoring for Jones to hire an offensive coordinator, this may sound good. But I believe it would represent both a departure for Jones from the way he's operated for the past couple of years and a mistake if what he wants is to give Garrett the best possible chance to succeed. Jones has been determined to give Garrett support and leeway, and the changes to the coaching staff last year were made with significant Garrett input. The Cowboys made significant strides this year in several areas and, I believe, either met or outperformed reasonable expectations. As recently as Week 16, the vibe around the Cowboys was a proud and positive one. It's tough for me to believe sweeping changes are necessary because they lost the final game of the season to the red-hot Redskins on the road without half their defense. And a change like this, to bring in a coordinator as strong-willed and recognized as Turner, would likely create a level of tension on the coaching staff that might not be conducive to a winning environment. It's not that Garrett doesn't need a playcaller, but this would feel like an extreme and danger-ridden solution to a specific problem.

As you know if you read regularly, my opinion is that Jones' talk of "change" in his radio interview last week falls into the category of an owner playing to disappointed fans, not a hint about some grand organizational plan. So my hunch is that the kind of significant change Ed is talking about remains unlikely. However, Ed has been around Jones and the Cowboys for a much longer time than I have and has very good sources, so if the plan he's talking about ended up taking shape, you couldn't view it as a huge surprise. You'd just have to view it as a drastic change of course for an owner who's been practicing the patience he's been preaching since he elevated Garrett to the top job.

Not sure Bill Callahan is answer either

January, 3, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – Earlier today, Tim MacMahon made the case for Bill Callahan to become the Cowboys’ next playcaller, not Norv Turner.

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ESPN's Chris Mortensen joins Galloway & Company and says that the Cowboys could probably get a first- and third-round pick if they were to trade Tony Romo. But, he also says that there's no chance of that happening.

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He cited Callahan’s work as the playcaller when Oakland made it to the Super Bowl when he was the Raiders head coach, except there would be a huge difference between running that offense and this offense.

The scheme.

Callahan’s offense was a West-Coast scheme, shorter, timing routes and a different philosophy. The Cowboys’ offense is based on the Don Coryell system and a number tree with a more intermediate and vertical passing game.

Callahan has been with the Cowboys for a season, but clearly he was the coordinator in name only. He was not involved much in the passing game. Despite the title, he was the running game coordinator. He would be in Jason Garrett’s ear with different runs but he wasn’t making suggestions about pass plays.

This isn’t to say Callahan can’t call the plays. It’s that this would not be an offense in which he is completely familiar and the Cowboys are not going to become a West Coast offense.

If there’s one thing we’ve seen with a Garrett offense, it’s that they can pile up yards. They just don’t score enough points.

If the Cowboys want to look at ways to improve their point totals, steal from teams like New England, New Orleans and Green Bay.

That’s another story for another time this offseason.

But for this story, I don’t think Callahan is the answer either.


Whether Jason Garrett likes it or not, someone else could be calling plays for the Cowboys next season.

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Ed Werder joins Ben and Skin to discuss Jason Garrett's future with the Cowboys and Jerry Jones' mindset following another 8-8 season.

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That’s perfectly logical, considering the Cowboys have been consistently mediocre as a scoring offense during Garrett’s tenure as the play-caller. The Cowboys ranked 15th in scoring offense this season, the fourth time in five years they fell between 14th and 18th.

Really, Jerry Jones is late to realize that Garrett could probably be a better head coach if he delegated play-calling duties. At least Jerry seems to be getting over his silly notion that a “walkaround” head coach can’t win, which always seemed bizarre considering the head coaches who hoisted Lombardi Trophies during his tenure didn’t call plays.

This should all be considered encouraging, as long as Jerry doesn’t try to recruit Norv Turner to Valley Ranch.

This is probably a moot point anyway -- with Turner indicating to the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this week that he didn’t see the Cowboys as a fit for his next stop -- but adding the architect of the Dallas dynasty’s offense would simply increase the dysfunction in an already dysfunctional power structure.

Garrett already has to deal with the unique challenge of working for an owner who prides himself in being the face of the franchise and has a history of allowing players to go over the head coach’s head to him.

With all due respect to Turner’s offensive genius (just don’t look at this season’s Chargers for evidence of it), it’d do Garrett absolutely no good to have an assistant coach on his staff could be perceived as his superior.

It’d be a challenge for Garrett to maintain his authority in the locker room if he’s stripped of his play-calling duties after making a stand on the subject during his Monday end-of-season press conference. Jerry hasn’t helped by continually claiming that a head coach needs to call plays to earn that authority in the locker room, only to suddenly consider reversing field on the issue after the Cowboys’ second consecutive 8-8 season.

However, it’s very much a manageable situation if Garrett gives that responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, a proven play-caller already on staff. In fact, that should have happened when Callahan, who called plays for an explosive offense on a Super Bowl team in Oakland, was hired last offseason.

The addition of Turner would essentially strip Garrett of all of his authority in the locker room. It’d be human nature for players to perceive Turner, who almost was hired to be Garrett’s boss in 2007 before Wade Phillips got the gig, to be at least Garrett’s equal and his probable replacement if the season didn’t go as planned. That’d be a problem.

Plus, do you really think Turner would want to work for a guy whose football diapers he used to change when Garrett was a third-string quarterback scrapping to keep his roster spot? How awkward would it be for Garrett to have a mentor of his supposedly reporting to him?

The speculation about Turner’s return to Valley Ranch conjures up wonderful memories of the Cowboys’ dynasty days. But that’s the past. Adding Turner to this staff would simply add to Garrett’s pile of problems in the present.

Could Norv Turner be OC for Cowboys in '13?

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
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Ed Werder discusses Norv Turner's future as San Diego's coach and where he might end up (Cowboys?) if he is fired.

Goodbye Oxnard, but not training camp

August, 17, 2012
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OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys will hop a train bound for San Diego at lunchtime, officially ending their time in Oxnard but not necessarily breaking camp.

The Cowboys play the San Diego Chargers on Saturday and, after an off day, will practice against Norv Turner’s team on Monday and Tuesday before returning to Dallas on Wednesday night. The team will hold a night practice at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 23 before its third preseason game on Saturday, Aug 25 vs. the St. Louis Rams.

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Are the Cowboys leaving camp in Oxnard in better or worse shape?

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This will be the second year in a row that the Cowboys have practiced with San Diego.

“We did it last year prior to our game with them and you’d prefer to do it before you play them, but because we played Monday (in Oakland) and play Saturday, it was just hard to get to San Diego and pull that off,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t want to lose the opportunity. It’s a great opportunity to not hit your own guys, play against another team. I think the competition level increase when you play guys on the other side.”

While the third preseason game is treated most like a regular-season game, Garrett said the game planning entering the Rams’ game will not be extensive.

“You still like them to be in training camp mode -- coming out, working hard and doing the work physically and mentally,” Garrett said. “We don’t want to get into in-season mode too early, so we’ll prepare them a little bit more, but those practice days against the Chargers will be important as will the practice back at Cowboys Stadium.”

This was the seventh time the Cowboys have spent at least part of training camp in Oxnard since 2002, and Garrett had nothing bad to say about the set up.

“We really like everything about it,” Garrett said. “Obviously the weather is something everybody talks about. That’s a good thing because allow you to get more work in and the players are more focused on what you’re asking them to do instead of the Gatorade or water behind them. We’ve all practiced in those really hot Texas days where it’s not really competing against each other. It’s ‘Where’s the trainer? Where’s the water? Give me a cold towel.’ All that stuff. This gets you away from that mindset and lets you go to work. We’ve got a lot of football plays run every single day out here.”

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