Jason Garrett happy with structure
Cowboys head coach will continue to call plays as others gain familiarity with system
IRVING, Texas -- There's this perception out there that Jason Garrett does not play well with others, that he's the kid who will take his ball and go home if he doesn't get his way.
This whole play-calling dilemma regarding the Dallas Cowboys' head coach seems a bit misguided.
Yes, Garrett calls the plays in to Tony Romo, but he does not stare at the laminated, color-coded sheet and choose one that did not go through a thorough car wash during the week of practice. All of the coaches have/had input on the plan. During games, assistant coaches make changes and suggestions. At times, Garrett will ask for help.
On Thursday, Bill Callahan was officially introduced as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, but Garrett said the structure of how the staff puts together the game plan during the week will remain largely the same.
Garrett will continue to call the plays, but he opened up the possibility of giving up those duties in the future -- just not the immediate future.
"Our quarterback played awfully well this year, had probably the best year of his career, so there's a comfort level that we'll want to make sure we maintain in that area," Garrett said. "We had a couple of bumps at different stages of the season, but at the end of the day, you say, 'Boy, he had an outstanding year,' and we want to continue that development, continue his growth in this system and make sure that he and the other guys who have been around here have a certain comfort level with what we've been doing."
For a lot of Cowboys fans, this news will not be taken kindly.
In New Orleans, Sean Payton called every play for more than five seasons and the Saints had tremendous success. Then this season he suffered a serious knee injury on the sideline and turned over the play-calling duties to his coordinator, Pete Carmichael Jr.
(Full disclosure: Pete and I played on the same Little League baseball team, the Yarnspun Mill Pirates, back in Massachusetts. We won a championship, too.)
Payton found out the offense could function without him calling the shots. He even told Jimmy Johnson on a Fox pregame show that it made him a better head coach. So if he hadn't gotten hurt, he would've continued as the playcaller? Such divine intervention was at play, but hey, if that's how he feels, that's how he feels.
But here's the difference between the Saints' setup and the Cowboys' setup.
Carmichael had been on Payton's staff since 2006. He had worked with quarterback Drew Brees back in San Diego, too.
Payton wasn't going to hand it off to just anybody.
And Garrett is not going to turn over his duties to Callahan, with whom he has worked now for five days. At least not yet.
Does ego and stubbornness play a part in it? Sure. These coaches got to where they are today by believing in themselves.
That Garrett would one day be willing to give it up should be viewed that he is at least willing to listen. And for those who believe he does not listen to his coaches, I'd suggest you review the timeout before Dan Bailey's first field goal attempt at Arizona that was good.
Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and his assistant, Chris Boniol, told Garrett to call the timeout because they feared the play clock was running out. But now that moment gets turned into Garrett icing his own kicker and kicks off this entire debate of there being too much on his plate and him being unable to manage a game properly.
Hiring Callahan shows he is listening on that front, too. Callahan was a head coach at Oakland for two years, taking the Raiders to a Super Bowl. He was a head coach at Nebraska before joining the New York Jets in 2008.
"My philosophy has been when that clock is rolling and you get in crucial, critical situations, everybody has input," Callahan said. "And again just make the playcaller aware of things or stay ahead of the clock so he can anticipate a certain situation -- that's always helpful."
Garrett said he will lean on Callahan a lot this year, perhaps more than he has leaned on one assistant since taking over as coach.
"He's certainly going to be a great asset to me, the staff and our entire football team in a lot of different ways," Garrett said.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.