Commentary

Jerry should give Garrett some rope

Lame-duck coach should have license to hire own staff in final year of contract

Updated: January 27, 2014, 12:56 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING -- It should be beyond obvious to everyone these days that Jason Garrett doesn't want offensive coordinator Bill Callahan calling plays for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

Garrett wants him replaced.

Right now. That's why Jerry Jones is reportedly mulling whether to let Garrett add former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to the Cowboys coaching staff. Understand, Jerry holding veto power over coaching staff additions gives us a glimpse into the dysfunction that is the Dallas Cowboys organization.

Garrett is in the final year of his contract, and Jerry doesn't seem inclined to give him a contract extension, which is fine. After all, he's gone 8-8 each of the past three seasons and failed to make the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeScott Linehan
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesScott Linehan and Jason Garrett have history. Will Jerry let Garrett hire Linehan to call plays?

The number of coaches who survive after missing the playoffs each of their first three seasons is tiny. Still, the least Jerry could do is give Garrett every single thing the coach says he wants or needs heading into the final year of his deal. Actually, Garrett should demand it, and if the owner doesn't give it to him, he should walk.

Seriously.

What's Jerry going to do at this late date, promote Callahan or defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to head coach? Right now, it would be next to impossible for Jerry to hire a better coach than Garrett. No hot assistant, such as Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase or New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, will take the job because their job prospects will be better next year.

No proven NFL coach will take it because they will demand more power and authority than Jerry wants to cede. The same goes for any big-time college coach with a proven record of success.

The best Jerry can do is yet another NFL retread or an NFL assistant or college head coach who wants the job so badly he'll accept it under any conditions.

See, Garrett and Jerry need each other. Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, three of the team's key players, are each closer to the end of their career than the beginning.

Neither Garrett nor Jerry can afford another wasted season without maximizing this roster. Jerry tells anyone who listens that he believes it's a wasted season to have an upper-echelon quarterback, such as Romo, healthy for the season and miss the playoffs. Well, the Cowboys have essentially done that each of the past three seasons, considering he has started 47 of the past 48 games.

Jerry should acquiesce and let Garrett add Linehan to the Cowboys staff because he provides the best option for the Cowboys offense to succeed -- and it would add a third former NFL head coach to the staff, which is a bonus.

Linehan, the St. Louis Rams' coach from 2006 to 2008, would allow Garrett to continue to be a walk-around head coach. It's the best role for him because game management is Garrett's worst skill as a head coach, and not having to call plays allows him to focus on that on game day.

Callahan won't like it if he's not calling plays. So what? The time for massaging egos is gone, and his paycheck will still clear each week.

If he's not calling plays, Callahan can focus solely on the offensive line and running game. He deserves considerable credit for implementing a zone-blocking scheme and improving the Cowboys' running game, in which DeMarco Murray produced the best season for a Cowboys running back since Emmitt Smith had 1,203 yards in 2000.

When Linehan was the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2005, he hired Garrett as his quarterbacks coach 10 hours after meeting him. Once he became the Rams coach, Linehan wanted to hire Garrett.

They have a relationship. More important, they've established a trust factor.

And they share a similar offensive philosophy. In five seasons as the Lions' offensive coordinator, Detroit ranked 27th, 28th, 32nd, 32nd and 19th in run/pass percentage.

You can blame it on the Lions' lack of a quality running back or offensive line, but the reality is Detroit is one of the few teams that has thrown it more than the Cowboys over the past five seasons.

At least we know Linehan knows how to get the ball to his best players. Calvin Johnson is usually among the league leaders in targets, and he had 329 yards receiving on 16 targets in the Lions' 31-30 win over Dallas this season.

This is not the time for Jerry to get stubborn. He must give Garrett what he needs in his final season and see if the lame-duck coach will reward him for the disappointment of the past three seasons.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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