Dallas Cowboys: Sean Payton

Chat recap: Cowboys still a destination?

May, 22, 2014
IRVING, Texas – We got back into the flow of the chat on Wednesday, spending an hour answering all kinds of Dallas Cowboys questions.

In the chat we discussed:
  • How much Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith could be paid.
  • Jason Garrett as a general manager.
  • What Scott Linehan will bring to the offense.

If you want to read the full chat, click here.

This question stood out.

Mike D (Washington, D.C.): How much of a "Dream Job" is the Cowboys HC position? With JJ's presence, is it really a glamour job like Yankees manager, Lakers HC, etc? For that matter, is it even the best job in the NFL?

Todd Archer: Bill Parcells came out of retirement for it and work for Jerry. It's still a dream job. There's a lot that comes with the dinner, as Garrett likes to say, but that's because of the franchise history and Jerry. Is it the best job in the NFL? Good question. I don't think so. Pittsburgh might be better because you're guaranteed a certain level of security. Baltimore might be better because of the front office situation. But it's one of the five best jobs. The Cowboys will never lack for interest in the spot.

Please allow me to expand my thoughts:

The Cowboys will not have to worry about finding a replacement for Garrett if or when they need one. When Linehan was asked what drew him to the team as passing game coordinator his answer was simple: "It's the Dallas Cowboys."

He could have gone elsewhere, but it's the Dallas Cowboys. It will always be the Dallas Cowboys.

Bill Parcells likened it to playing the big room. This from a guy who coached in New York. The Cowboys would never have to worry about what Sean Payton did to the Oakland Raiders. He had an agreement in place to be the Raiders head coach, but backed out. Jerry Jones bumped his salary up to $1 million and after the 2005 season he was off to the New Orleans Saints.

Jerry will have the pick of the coaches he wants. If he wants a name, then a name like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher would consider it. I’m not saying that’s the route he would go, but this is the big room. And the big room pays a lot of money.

Callahan situation evokes memories of 2006

January, 29, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- In 2006, Sean Payton wanted to bring Tony Sparano with him to the New Orleans Saints as offensive coordinator.

Bill Parcells did not want to lose Sparano, so the Cowboys denied the request. Sparano was upset. He thought he was being blocked from a promotion even if Payton would call the plays for the Saints and the offensive coordinator was more of a title than anything else.

The Cowboys did not have a coach to take over the offensive line for Sparano in 2006. Parcells came to the Cowboys without “his guys,” but quickly established Sparano as one of “Parcells guys,” moving him from tight ends coach to offensive line coach to running game coordinator.

Sparano ended up calling the plays for the Cowboys in 2006, helping a young quarterback named Tony Romo through the final 10 games of the season.

Sparano lost the play-calling duties a year later to Jason Garrett after Parcells retired. He was upset, but three-fifths of his offensive line started in the Pro Bowl that year. In 2008 Parcells named Sparano as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Eight years later, the Cowboys are preventing Bill Callahan from moving on when his authority on offense is about to be usurped. According to a source, the Cleveland Browns were denied permission to speak with Callahan about joining their staff. The Baltimore Ravens were reportedly blocked from talking to Callahan as well.

With the official announcement of Scott Linehan as the play-caller in 2014, Callahan finds himself being shuffled to the back of a confusing offensive setup. This is still Garrett’s offense. Tony Romo will still have major involvement in the game-planning. Linehan will make his amendments to the passing game. Callahan is back in an offensive line role with run-game duties.

Unlike 2006, the Cowboys have a ready-made replacement for Callahan in Frank Pollack. The linemen have a lot of trust in Pollack. Truth be told, Pollack worked more with the line in 2013 than Callahan, simply because the offensive coordinator duties pulled Callahan out of the linemen’s room.

It is well within the Cowboys' rights to keep Callahan, but in doing so they are potentially creating a miserable situation that can adversely affect the entire team.

Cowboys didn't run Mike Zimmer out

January, 15, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- Mike Zimmer is finally a head coach in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings will reportedly name him their next head coach, and it’s about time Zimmer got a shot.

He deserved one a few years ago. Kudos to the Vikings and Rick Spielman for hiring Zimmer, who was a Dallas Cowboys' assistant from 1994-06 and still has a home in the area.

But let’s put to rest something about the Cowboys running Zimmer off after the 2006 season. They didn't.

If you believe that, then you can never be upset with the notion that Jerry Jones picks the assistant coaches. Never.

After Bill Parcells retired, Jones interviewed 10 candidates. Three were on the staff: Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Todd Bowles. Zimmer wasn’t one of the interviewees.

Jones finally picked Wade Phillips as coach because of Phillips’ success in running a 3-4 defense. The Cowboys had just finished their second year running the scheme. Their work in the draft and in free agency was about finding 3-4 players.

Were the Cowboys going to keep Zimmer as the coordinator in 2007 with Phillips running his own defense? Of course not. This was Phillips’ defense and Phillips’ team. And if they did, then we would have heard more complaints that Jones would not let Phillips hire either coordinator, Zimmer or Jason Garrett, who was actually hired before Phillips.

There is also some revisionist history regarding Sean Payton’s tenure here too; that Jones never should have let Payton walk to the New Orleans Saints. Was Jones supposed to get rid of Parcells after the 2005 season so he could keep Payton from taking the New Orleans Saints’ gig? Of course not.

Now if you want to say Jones should have done more to get Payton after the coach was suspended for a year by the NFL and had a little bit of time as a free agent in 2012, then I’m with you. But in 2006 there was no way of knowing Payton would become what he is today.

Let’s bring this back to Zimmer and 2006-07.

Zimmer’s expertise had been in the 4-3, but when Parcells wanted to make the switch to the 3-4 in 2005, Zimmer became an expert on it as well. It’s part of the reason why he coordinated such strong defenses with Cincinnati and partly why he got the job with the Vikings today.

Five Wonders: Changes on defense?

December, 11, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Those of you wondering where Five Wonders went on Tuesday, fear not. It's here on Wednesday.

We just pushed it back a day with the Dallas Cowboys playing on ESPN's “Monday Night Football.” And boy wasn't that an exciting contest?

Anyway, off we go ...

1. Jerry Jones said there will be changes on the defensive side of the ball after the debacle against the Chicago Bears. I wonder what they would be. And how big of a difference could they actually make? The scheme is the scheme. They can't become some blitz-happy team overnight. The personnel is the personnel. So does it make a difference if J.J. Wilcox starts over Jeff Heath at safety? Minimally. I'd look for Sterling Moore to be the nickel back if Morris Claiborne cannot return this week from a hamstring injury. Huge difference? Perhaps considering how lost B.W. Webb looks. Injuries could force a shakeup at linebacker. Does DeVonte Holloman get some time? He's not a weak-side linebacker by trade, but maybe it's time he plays instead of Ernie Sims or Cam Lawrence if Bruce Carter can't go. The defensive line does not have many options, but maybe Drake Nevis moves in for Nick Hayden. Again, we're not talking major changes.

[+] EnlargeDallas' Rod Marinelli
Casey Sapio/USA TODAY SportsWould Rod Marinelli be interested in rejoining Lovie Smith if Smith were to become a head coach again?
2. This isn't so much an “I wonder,” but it is for those wondering if Rod Marinelli will join Lovie Smith should Smith return to the NFL as a head coach somewhere. From what I'm told, Marinelli signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys when he joined the team in the offseason. Technically Jones could allow Marinelli to join Smith if he wanted, but he does not have to. The promotion rule was dropped a long time ago. Since Jones would not let Joe DeCamillis leave for the Oakland Raiders two years ago to be with Dennis Allen or Tony Sparano to leave for the New Orleans Saints when Sean Payton took over in 2006, I can't see Jones letting Marinelli walk. The defensive line has been a drive-through of sorts because of injuries and Marinelli has made it work. It's not been perfect by any stretch but it's been fine.

3. With all of the talk about how well Tyron Smith has played this season, I wonder if the Cowboys will be more patient than normal in talking about an extension for Smith. Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Cowboys have a fifth-year option on Smith in which they would pay him roughly the amount of the transition tag in 2015. They have to make their decision to use the option year in the spring and the money becomes guaranteed after the 2014 season. Maybe the Cowboys will wait because they will have to do something with Dez Bryant, who will be a free agent after next season. They could franchise Bryant and use the option year on Smith, but with salary-cap limitations I can see them being more willing to get a deal done with Bryant first. Because the option year is a new tool teams will have a difficult time navigating those negotiations on long-term deals. Bryant will be a more pressing deal to get done and the Cowboys will be able to keep Smith in their back pocket, so to speak.

4. I wonder how strongly the Cowboys attack the defensive line in the April draft. Marinelli played a big part in the team choosing to pass on Sharrif Floyd last April because they did not want to use a first-round pick on what they viewed was a two-down defensive lineman. A few years ago the Cowboys saw their offensive line grow old with Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode and Kyle Kosier. They cut Colombo, Davis and Gurode and bit the bullet. Jason Hatcher turns 32 next season and will be a free agent. Anthony Spencer turns 30 in December, is coming off microfracture surgery to his knee and is also a free agent. DeMarcus Ware turns 32 next July and has been slowed by nagging injuries this year. Their one building-block defensive lineman is Tyrone Crawford and he is coming off a torn Achilles. For as well as George Selvie has played this year, he is not a building-block player. He is solid, but you would feel better about him being a backup than a full-timer. The rest of the guys still have things to prove. If the last few years has been about rebuilding the offensive line, I wonder if it's time to start rebuilding the defensive line.

5. I wonder if assistant director of player personnel Will McClay becomes a sought after front-office personnel person. The NFL has tweaked its Rooney Rule and now teams will have to interview at least one minority candidate for their head coaching or general manager vacancy. Last year there were eight head coaching vacancies and seven general manager jobs and none went to a minority. McClay, who is African-American, was elevated to his current role in the offseason and has the run of the personnel department. He has yet to set up a draft board, but he has been responsible for a lot of the pro personnel work in recent years and has found players that have come off the street and contributed to the Cowboys' success. He was a former head coach with the Dallas Desperados and has also helped the coaches on game day. He has received interest from teams in the past, but the Cowboys have not let him leave. This time they may not have a choice.

Sean Payton has close ties to Witten, Romo

November, 9, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Sean Payton was the Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach when Jason Witten and Tony Romo joined the team in 2003.

They became friends then and remain friends to this day. Each summer they bump into each other in Florida on vacation and have been known to play some beach football games. They'll talk some football, especially Romo, but not that much.

"But I think in that time of the year it's usually more about other things," said Payton, who will coach against Witten, Romo and the rest of the Cowboys Sunday. "There are certain things that come up that it would be natural in discussion, not often specifics with regards to X's and O's, just about the profession. I think there's an area that a lot of people that a lot of people have gravitated to that a lot of people enjoy. You know, Jason's down there now with a house. Tony often times gets down. You know, Jerry [Jones] is right down the road. It's a good area to relax and get away for a little bit of time in the summer."

Romo still draws on things he learned from Payton from 2003-05.

"Sean had a real good mind for the X's and O's part of the game," Romo said. "He understood the thought process that goes through the quarterback's mind and ways to help that."

Payton was raving about Witten during an answer on a conference call when he got a little nostalgic.

"The consistency and availability of a player like that is only truly appreciated once they're finished playing," Payton said. "He's been amazing. For me it's challenging to see players like Jason or Tony, I don't know what year, '03 brings them to now, 10 years (actually 11). It seems like those guys are six-year players or five-year players. I think we're all getting older. He's another special person that's had a great career there and is playing at very high level right now."

Recapping the Cowboys' week

November, 9, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will say hello to their former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Sunday when they play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

As we recap the Cowboys' week, much of the focus was on Ryan, whose defense did not perform well enough in 2011 and was racked by injury in 2012. So far things have been much better for Ryan in New Orleans.

But Jean-Jacques Taylor said the Cowboys do not miss Ryan.

In our ESPNDallas.com Hot Button question, I think the Cowboys made the right move in firing Ryan. Calvin Watkins took to Ryan’s defense.

Sean Payton and Jason Garrett are old friends. One is calling the plays again. One isn’t.

DeMarcus Ware will make his return Sunday after a three-game absence with a quadriceps strain.

The Cowboys are looking for a win against a good team this season. Beating the Saints could go a long way for them.

Jimmy Graham will be the focal point of the defensive game plan.

Dez Bryant’s back caused a stir this week.

JJT had a great column on what Tony Dorsett’s revelation that he has CTE means to him and his son, who plays football.

In this week’s Double Coverage, I go over the game with Mike Triplett.

Sean Payton, Jason Garrett in different roles

November, 7, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Sean Payton made his bones as a playcaller early on in his time as the New Orleans Saints’ head coach. Before this season, Jason Garrett had called every play for the Dallas Cowboys since 2007.

When these coaches and good friends meet Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Payton will be calling the plays, while Garrett will be overseeing the Cowboys’ offense but not directly communicating with quarterback Tony Romo.

Payton and Garrett have had role reversals of sorts.

[+] EnlargeSean Payton, Jason Garrett
AP Photo/Mike FuentesSean Payton (left) and Jason Garrett made their bones as playcallers. But only one is still at it.
In 2011 Payton was forced to give it up after suffering a serious knee injury on the sideline during a game. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael took over with Payton injured, and the Saints scored 62 points in their first game.

“So I told Pete that might be a good one to end on,” Payton said. “He did a great job for us in [2011] and a great job for us last year. He’s very in tune to what we’re doing daily. He’s a big reason why we’ve had the success we’ve had here offensively, and someone [who] will and during the course of any game call plays for us. [He] puts together all the practice plans and really is very involved in our game-planning. I think more importantly about the details of the execution philosophically, the way you want to approach each week, those things become more important.”

Carmichael called the plays last season with Payton serving a one-year suspension, but Payton is back to calling the plays for the Saints.

As good as Payton is as a playcaller, quarterback Drew Brees said the Saints missed Payton the head coach more.

“You forget all the things that are required of the head coach to be responsible for,” Brees said. “Some are more involved than others. But Sean Payton is a very hands-on coach that kind of has his hands in everything and feels responsible for everything. I think we missed him most in other areas, not necessarily just play calling.”

Depending on the story, Garrett this year either had the play-calling duties taken away from him by owner and general manager Jerry Jones or was willing to allow offensive coordinator Bill Callahan to call the plays.

Garrett remains involved in the process, but he has let Callahan run the show with Romo. The Cowboys are fourth in the NFL in points per game (28.6) but 17th in yards per game (342.8). Since a 48-point performance against Denver it has been a struggle for the offense.

But Garrett has remained an observer.

“I think it’s been a good thing,” Garrett said of the play-calling switch. “It’s something that we’ve tried to do since I became the head coach, coming from the coordinator position. They’re two full-time jobs, and in order to do each of them well, you have to focus on really every aspect of them. There are only so many hours in the day, so since I became the head coach, I was always trying to delegate some of the responsibilities I had within the coordinator position and within some of the head-coaching responsibilities that I had. So now I can be more focused on some of the head-coaching stuff.

"Certainly I’m in all of the meetings on offense and many of the meetings on defense during the week. With the installations of the plays, I’m involved in all that. But you need to delegate and more importantly empower the people around you to do those jobs. We’ve done that. I think that structure has worked well for us. That doesn’t mean that because we’re in that structure, everything is going to be perfect. We need to keep working hard to make whatever structure we use the best it can be for our players to execute ball plays.”

Sean Payton: Romo having 'his best year'

November, 6, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- When Tony Romo first burst on the scene in 2006, Bill Parcells likes to say the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was spawned from a lot of fathers, meaning just about everybody was trying to take credit for Romo's success.

One of those fathers was Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was the Cowboys' assistant head coach in 2003. Payton played a large part in Romo's signing with Dallas as an undrafted free agent.

Payton was there at Romo's first minicamp practice and has seen Romo become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

"He's having, I think, the best year of his career this season right now," Payton said. "Just having the chance to watch three games myself on that side of the ball, he's been very good in regards to his decision-making. He knows pre-snap where he wants to go. He's got a quick way of getting through his progressions and the ball comes out extremely fast."

Romo is third in the NFL in touchdown passes with 20, fifth in yards (2,553) and fifth in passer rating (100.0). He has been intercepted only six times in 352 attempts.

"I think he located the ball very well," Payton said. "The word isn't improvise, but his ability to move and extend plays and avoid pressure and avoid sacks has served him very well. I think from a decision-making standpoint each year, you're seeing someone very comfortable in the system. I think Jason [Garrett] and those guys there have done a very good job of giving him throws that he's very comfortable with."

Payton and Romo will go against each other for the third time Sunday. Payton won in 2006 at Texas Stadium. Romo won in 2009 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Romo did not play in the 2010 meeting because of a broken collarbone, and Payton did not coach in last year's meeting because of an NFL suspension.

Anytime the Saints and Cowboys meet, the story of a possible trade involving Romo in 2006 always comes up. Payton dismissed the talk Wednesday.

"We had the second pick in the draft," Payton said. "We were looking closely at the quarterbacks in that draft, and then after the combine is when Drew [Brees] became available from San Diego, so no, in fairness to the question, I don't think there was anything that ever really got started. And it really wasn't even discussed. I think [Bill Parcells'] words were pretty good. I think he said, 'Go sit on the couch and have a warm glass of milk.'"

Five Wonders: More Jason Garrett on offense?

November, 5, 2013
IRVING, Texas – At 5-4 the Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East and have won three of their last four games.

I wonder why things seem so bleak. (Not really). Anyway, it’s Tuesday and it’s time for Five Wonders.

Off we go:


In which area do the Cowboys need the most improvement?


Discuss (Total votes: 13,122)

1. I wonder if Jason Garrett will be more involved in the offense. Not to say he hasn’t been involved, but this has been Bill Callahan’s baby (and Tony Romo’s by extension) for the season. The results have been mixed, to say the least. The Cowboys have scored 29 touchdowns in the first nine games, but five have come on defense and special teams. The running game was historically bad on Sunday. One of those nine carries the Cowboys had against the Minnesota Vikings was a Tony Romo scramble, so they really had eight runs. Did Callahan call more than eight? No doubt he did, but Romo had to check out of some and admitted the Vikings’ D tricked him a few times. But with Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, Terrance Williams and other decent weapons, the offense can’t be this stagnant. This remains Garrett’s offense and I wondered if Jerry Jones was doing a disservice to Callahan by having him run somebody else’s offense at the start of the season. If we see Garrett with a play sheet in front of him in the future, then we’ll know he’s more involved. He hasn’t yet. For now.

2. Remember last fall when it looked like Sean Payton would be a free-agent coach after his contract with the New Orleans Saints was disapproved by the NFL? I wonder if the Cowboys really would’ve gotten into a bidding war for Payton. His family is in the area. He enjoyed his time here. He is a favorite of owner and general manager Jerry Jones. He has an affinity for Romo. He loves the attention. (Did anybody catch his workout being filmed a few weeks ago on a telecast?). It seemed like it would make sense. But Payton and the Saints put pen to paper on a new and approved contract and things are going swimmingly with the Saints in his return from Bountygate. Maybe one day Payton will roam the Cowboys sidelines but it won’t be anytime soon.

3. Garrett wants players to show passion, emotion and enthusiasm. Some players show that outwardly. Some players don’t. Bruce Carter is the former, but I wonder if that’s why the coaches have not taken kindly to the linebacker’s play this year. He was benched in favor of Ernie Sims against the Vikings and only got on the field for the bulk of the second half because Sims was so bad. Carter has immense athleticism, but I wonder if the coaches want to see some fire on the field. When he gave up the touchdowns to San Diego’s Danny Woodhead earlier in the season, he didn’t have any real reaction. He found himself on the bench in that game. In the second half against the Vikings, Carter was better and showed emotion after making a nice play in the flat. You don’t have to have Sean Lee-like emotions, but you can’t make it seem like you’re just going through the motions either.

4. A couple of weeks ago I wondered if Brian Waters wanted to play in 2014 in part because he was playing so well. Now that the veteran guard is out for the year because of a triceps injury, I wonder if Waters wants to play in 2014 but for a different reason. Proud players want to go out on their own. They don’t want to go out because of injuries, especially. Waters is a proud player. He was doing a solid job and he had a positive effect on his fellow offensive linemen. But he’s 36. Does he want to go through the rehab it would take to come back and play another year? Maybe he does. He turns 37 in February and old players get hurt. That’s what happens. But maybe there’s a way this could work. If I’m the Cowboys I would want to make sure Waters commits to the offseason and training camp. It couldn’t be a situation where he is away all summer and joins the team in September again. If there is an advantage for the Cowboys it’s that this is Waters’ home.

5. I wonder if there will come a game in which the Cowboys’ de-activate rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and go with Andre Smith, who is a true blocking tight end as they look to sort out their run game issues. The second-round pick played nine offensive snaps against the Vikings. The Cowboys knew Escobar needed time to develop as a blocker when they picked him, but they are not getting him involved much lately. He does not have a catch in the last four games and has just four receptions on the season. He is not a big special teams’ help either. This isn’t Escobar’s fault. This is the coaches either not putting him out there enough or not willing to get more of a package for him. He has the ability to go get the ball, but if he is playing so sparingly they might want to find a spot for somebody else on the roster to play more snaps.

Bill Parcells: Sean Payton 'gets it'

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -- Bill Parcells has a tall and successful coaching tree that features Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton, who have combined to win six Super Bowls since 2001.

All three will be in attendance at Saturday night’s Hall of Fame ceremony.

“I had a pretty good crew,” Parcells said. “That’s what we say in Jersey. I really did.”

Belichick was an assistant coach under Parcells with the New York Giants, New York Jets and New England Patriots. Coughlin was Parcells’ assistant with the Giants. Payton had a three-year run with the Cowboys from 2003 to '05.

It was almost only a two-year run when Payton initially accepted the Oakland Raiders' offer to become head coach following the 2004 season, but Parcells and owner Jerry Jones talked Payton into staying with Dallas, bumping Payton’s salary to $1 million.

Payton left after the ’05 season for the New Orleans Saints.

“Sean gets it,” Parcells said. “He really gets it. Like all of us when we’re young, he didn’t always get it, but he gets it now. And he knows what’s important, and he’s absolutely a terrific listener. He’s very bright, creative and I have a high regard for him. I really do.”

Story behind the Larry Allen pump

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -- It was easy to tell when Larry Allen was excited during a game.

He would raise his right arm and pump it up and down after a long gain.

The crowd noticed, but Allen said he never really caught the reaction.

“I don’t think the crowd knew what that meant,” Allen said. “Whenever I did that, that was to Sean Payton because I wanted him to run the same play over again. So if I did something good on that play, I’d do that and he’d run the same play.”

John Madden has said Allen is one of the three best guards to ever play, along with John Hannah and Gene Upshaw. Bill Parcells had Allen with Hannah and Mike Munchak as one of the three best.

The reason? His strength.

“I’d punch them, two-handed punch, pass protection,” Allen said.

He learned it from Hudson Houck, his line coach when the Cowboys drafted him in 1994.

“I think he has four Hall of Famers he’s coached,” Allen said. “Players he coached played in over 100 Pro Bowls, so he’s a great coach.”
MOBILE, Ala. -- In the middle of the season, a report surfaced on ESPN about a clause in Sean Payton's contract that prevented him from signing an extension with the New Orleans Saints. Rumors began flying that Payton could become the Dallas Cowboys' next head coach.

ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer says that it's not too late for Jason Garrett's legs to grow back after having them cut off by Jerry Jones.

Listen Listen
At the time of the rumors/report, the Cowboys were coming off a 19-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that dropped them to 3-5.

It seemed that if Jason Garrett couldn't fix things, he could be let go and Payton would take over.

Payton's contract with the Saints did eventually get resolved, and Wednesday he made it clear he had no intention of leaving New Orleans.

"There was no way I was going to another team," Payton said in his first public statements since getting reinstated after the bounty scandal. "The issue was a minor technicality. There was a minor clause, (the media) had it right, there was a minor clause in there that wasn't approved. What became more challenging really, was being out of the building and then trying to work through the specifics to get the contract done."

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.

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.

Listen Listen
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.
IRVING, Texas – If there is a coach that Jason Garrett follows more than any other, it’s Nick Saban.

It’s not Jimmy Johnson. It’s not any of the other coaches he played for in the NFL, from Jim Fassel and Sean Payton and Jon Gruden.

It’s Saban.

If you’re tired of hearing about Garrett’s “process” talk, blame Saban. That’s where Garrett got it from. He was Saban’s quarterbacks coach in Miami for two years and he likes to say he has notebooks filled with information of all the things he learned from Saban.

Saban was asked about the “process” leading into the BCS Championship game against Notre Dame.

“Well, the process is really what you have to do day in and day out to be successful,” Saban told reporters. “We try to define the standard that we want everybody to sort of work toward, adhere to, and do it on a consistent basis. And the things that I talked about before, being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on the outcomes as we do on being all that you can be.

“Eliminate the clutter and all the things that are going on outside and focus on the things that you can control with how you sort of go about and take care of your business. That’s something that’s ongoing, and it can never change.”

Garrett might not have uttered that word for word, but it’s pretty darn close.

What Saban has built in Alabama is what Garrett is trying to build with the Cowboys.

It iseasier to do it in college because you get to pick the best players, and Saban can put four national championship rings on the table when he is trying to recruit a player.

In the NFL, you don’t get to pick the best players the same way, and there is something called a salary cap that oftentimes can get in the way.

But if you believe in the “process,” as Garrett does and has seen evidence of it working, then you hold on to what you think is right and wrong, important and not important.

Who knows if it will ever work for Garrett and the Cowboys, but the plan is sound.
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will play five games against teams with new coaches next season, but they might have to prepare for only three new faces, possibly two.

There are a lot of coaching openings in the NFL. The Chiefs filled their vacancy with Andy Reid. Where will Chip Kelly end up? Can his style work in the NFL? Coop & Nate discuss.

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Andy Reid is closing in on becoming Kansas City’s new head coach after a 14-year run in Philadelphia, and the Cowboys will visit Arrowhead Stadium in 2013. Reid had a 17-12 record against the Cowboys, including the playoffs, but he started strong with a 10-2 mark. The Cowboys swept the Eagles in 2012.

Chicago and San Diego also will have new head coaches in 2013. The Bears are scheduled to meet with Cowboys special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis on Saturday, so he could be another familiar face among the opposition if he lands the gig.

This doesn’t include New Orleans getting Sean Payton back on the sidelines in 2013 after his one-year suspension.