- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- After the disastrous 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones outwardly lamented the decision to fire Rob Ryan and hire Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator.
“We thought that it was best for us to go in that direction and that doesn’t look good right now,” Jones said.
Jones made another decision on the coaching staff in the offseason that doesn’t look good right now either. He forced Jason Garrett to give up the play-calling duties and hand them over to Bill Callahan.
Jones has always name-dropped a Joe Gibbs' conversation in which the Hall of Fame coach said it was best to have a head coach focus on one side of the ball so he had an area of expertise. Jones didn't want a walkaround head coach.
But in the offseason, he dramatically changed course but he has attempted to imply -- as has Garrett -- that this was a group decision; that Garrett was in on this, too. Garrett often talked about how he and Jones had discussions about the play calling when he took over on an interim basis in 2010, as if that provided some cover.
Garrett called every play for the Cowboys from 2007-2012. The Cowboys were pretty good at it, however, not flawless.
The change was made with the idea Garrett would have more control of the entire team and a better grasp on game management.
Yet this decision put Callahan in the worst possible spot, too. Sure, he will be glad to call the plays, but this is not his offense. He is a West Coast guy. Garrett’s offense is not West Coast. Callahan was not even involved in the passing game meetings last year.
Then there’s Tony Romo’s added involvement. How much of what has gone wrong on an offense that looks to have good skill players and at least an adequate offensive line, is on him? It will be a mystery because we’ll never get the truth from those involved in the process.
Some parts of the offense are better. The red-zone offense is much more efficient. Romo’s interceptions are down. And ... And, well that’s really it.
The Cowboys’ third-down offense has not been good all year. Romo is near the bottom of the league in third-down passing. The running game, built more around the zone blocking schemes this year, has been bad and at times non-existent.
At the time of Callahan’s ascension, I was against this move. Not because of Callahan, but because this wasn't his offense and because what this did for Garrett.
This is a crucial year for him after back-to-back 8-8 finishes. The Cowboys are 5-5 with six games to go and looking at another .500 finish. At least theoretically, it might be difficult finding three more wins after what the Cowboys showed at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday.
If Garrett was going to go down, I thought in the offseason, he sure will want to be the one throwing the punches by calling the plays in his own offense. He looks to be going down, his team wobbling against the ropes after the worst loss they have had in his tenure, and he can’t even muster a counter-attack. He has somebody else fighting for him.
Garrett’s biggest strength is his ability to stay calm when times are rough. He shepherded the Cowboys through an agonizing time last year following the death of Jerry Brown.
But this time he needs actions more than words.
It’s not too late. Garrett can take over the play calling whenever he wants. If the decision to give it up was his back in the offseason, then he can decide to take it over again, right?
If he does, then it would be proof Jones was wrong on both coaching moves made heading into 2013.