Spin on Jason Garrett gets blurry

MOBILE, Ala. -- No one outside the Dallas Cowboys' organization believes Jason Garrett gave up his play-calling duties without a fight.

Maybe it was a knock-down, drag-out argument. Perhaps it was a heated exchange of ideas. Or something in between.

But let's not act as if Garrett's identity as an NFL coach hasn't been wrapped up in calling plays because it is -- at least it has been.

Garrett and Jerry Jones can spin it like a top until the end of time, but there's not a single person who has studied this team for any length of time who's going to buy what the Cowboys are selling.

Their story makes no sense.

After all, Jerry hired Garrett in 2007 to be the offensive coordinator and playcaller before Wade Phillips signed a contract to become the head coach.

So with his job on the line -- Garrett is getting fired if the Cowboys don't make the playoffs -- he's willingly going to put his future in the hands of Bill Callahan, Hue Jackson or some mystery candidate who's going to call plays?

"When he became the head coach, it was at my insistence that he continue to call the plays," Jerry said. "I felt philosophically that if anybody could do it, he could do it. It was not at Jason's insistence.

"It is not a step back for the Cowboys or a step back for him, individually, to change the way we're putting the game plan together or calling the plays."

Yes, it is.

Let's call it what it is: a demotion.

There's no nice way to say it. Still, it's better than getting fired like defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was.

Garrett's offense finished sixth in the NFL with 374.6 yards per game but only 15th in points with 23.5. The Cowboys rushed for 1,265 yards, 31st in the NFL and the worst in the franchise's history, while Tony Romo tied his career high with 19 interceptions.

The Cowboys consistently started slowly, especially at home, where they faced deficits of 7-0 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), 24-7 (Chicago Bears), 23-0 (New York Giants), 13-0 (Cleveland Browns), 28-3 (Washington Redskins), 14-3 (Philadelphia Eagles) and 31-17 (New Orleans Saints).

The Cowboys had a 7-0 lead just once all season, and that came in the finale at Washington. That's hard to do.

Garrett had complete control of the offense.

It would seem pointless for the Cowboys to fire running backs coach Skip Peete, force out tight ends coach John Garrett and let receivers coach Jimmy Robinson leave without Garrett also facing harsh consequences for the raggedy offense.

Understand, this decision represents a huge philosophical shift for Jerry. Remember, for more than a decade, Jerry had always wanted his head coach to call the plays on offense or defense.

Jerry believed that allowed players to see the tangible impact the coach was having on winning. Of course, it also showed the players the tangible effect the coach had on losing, when things went wrong.

Taking the play calling away from Garrett also slices away another layer of his authority. Suppose the Cowboys make the playoffs next season. New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will get credit for fixing the defense. The new playcaller will get credit for improving the offense, and Jerry might even get some rare credit for implementing the changes.

Garrett? All he did was get out of the way.

Jerry says Garrett will still help with the game plan, but this move will allow him to manage every aspect of the game better since he won't have the burden of calling plays.

Ironically, giving up the play selection could make Garrett a better head coach.

It should eliminate his propensity for time-management gaffes because he'll be focused 100 percent on the game instead of calling plays. Jimmy Johnson told him to take this approach when he became the head coach, but Garrett opted to do it his way.

All it has done is put his job in jeopardy.

"This is not something we just started thinking about two weeks ago," Jerry said. "It's a product of looking at how we've done the last two years certainly stimulated by the fact we've been 8-8.

"The reason I'm doing it is I think this will give us the best chance to get to playoffs and be where we want to go immediately."

If not, Garrett won't have to worry about calling plays in 2014. He'll be looking for a new gig.