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Monday, January 23, 2012
Why Bill Callahan went to Dallas

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

It may well be that Bill Callahan was looking to escape an organizational fiasco with the New York Jets, but last week when asked what drew the Dallas Cowboys' new offensive coordinator to Dallas, Callahan had several answers. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Callahan listed the commitment of owner Jerry Jones, Cowboys Stadium and the reputation he says the Cowboys have around the league as a good organization for which to work. But the most important thing he talked about was the pieces that are already in place to make a great offense:
"We had a chance to see them throughout the year because of the AFC East and the crossover with the NFC East," he said. "It was great to see this team roll and see their receivers and Austin and Dez and Witt, all those guys did great. That's the exciting aspect of this job. All those pieces are in place. You're always trying to get better. Now it's just a matter of shoring up the offensive line, continuing to improve that aspect of these young players and their development and again, get in this playoff and try to take a run at it."

In addition to receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, Callahan specifically mentioned quarterback Tony Romo and "the two young backs," meaning DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. What he's speaking to is really the defining aspect of the Cowboys' offense over the past couple of seasons. They have as strong a skill-position core as any team in the league -- talent all over the field at positions from which people score points. But maybe the reason they pursued Callahan, who's an offensive line coach, is because those last couple of years have proven that the skill-position excellence can be undone by shoddy line play.

We'll go back and forth here over the next three months on whether the Cowboys should use their first-round pick on a cornerback or a pass-rushing linebacker, and it's possible they will go defense at No. 14. But unless they do something like sign Carl Nicks or otherwise address the line in free agency, it's going to remain possible that they draft an interior lineman at that spot. It's just become too obvious, over and over again, how important that is for them. Offensive line will and must be one of the Cowboys' areas of offseason focus. And that's probably, more than any other reason, why Callahan is now on the coaching staff.