Commentary

Expect Jason Garrett to call plays

With his job on the line, it only makes sense that Cowboys coach keeps duties

Updated: May 24, 2013, 1:46 AM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' season ended 145 days ago. Coach Jason Garrett said he still doesn't know who's going to call plays this season -- something about working through the mechanics of the process.

Whatever.

My guess: Garrett will call plays.

It's the only scenario that makes sense, given that Garrett's going to get fired if the Cowboys don't make the playoffs -- no matter what the owner is saying these days.

Besides, it's not like offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan earned the right to handle the play-calling duties. Last season, his under-performing unit was part of the problem, not the solution.

Look at it this way: If the Cowboys make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, Jerry Jones has already told us that he's taking some of the credit -- and he should. Seriously, if Jerry gets much of the blame for the holes on the roster in addition to whatever goes wrong for this franchise, then he should certainly get credit for the Cowboys returning to the postseason after a three-year absence.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo, Jason Garrett
Stew Milne/US PresswireYou can bet Jason Garrett wants to call the plays for Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

Understand, Dallas isn't going to the playoffs without a good season from the defense, which means defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will receive plenty of credit for overseeing the switch from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme.

And if Tony Romo, the $108 million quarterback who demanded more input into the weekly game plan, gets the offense to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals inside the 20, then he's going to get credit for the offensive success.

If Jerry's getting credit for the personnel, Kiffin and Marinelli split credit for the defense and Romo gets credit for the offense, then what exactly does Garrett get credit for? Staying out of the way? Deferring to Romo? Being a walk-around head coach?

You're wrong if you think getting credit doesn't matter.

Jones and Jimmy Johnson wrecked the team of the '90s fighting over who deserved more credit. We spent spring training discussing who gets credit for the Rangers' run of success after CEO Nolan Ryan nearly left the organization. It's no secret supporters of Ryan and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels have a never-ending battle to make sure "their guy" gets the credit he deserves.

The best way for Garrett to ensure he gets at least some credit for whatever success the Cowboys have this season is to call the plays. Otherwise he's going to find himself in a situation like Rangers manager Ron Washington where everyone gets credit for the victories and he absorbs the blame for the losses.

Anyway, we know Garrett put additional pressure on his unit to perform this season when the Cowboys spent the draft adding pieces to the offense, the team's best unit, while ignoring the obvious issues on the defensive line.

The Cowboys spent their first three draft picks on center Travis Frederick, tight end Gavin Escobar and receiver Terrance Williams. Frederick was an obvious need; Escobar and Williams weren't.

Garrett lobbied hard for Escobar because he has outstanding hands and the Cowboys hope his 6-foot-7 frame and route running will make their offense inside the 20-yard line significantly better.

The Cowboys have ranked 20th in red zone touchdown efficiency each of the past two seasons. Last year, Dallas scored just 25 touchdowns in 49 red zone possessions.

Garrett also hopes his formations that use two tight ends will force teams to use schemes with five defensive backs, making it easier for Dallas to run the ball.

The hope is that Williams can consistently beat single coverage with defenses stacked to stop Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin, allowing him to make big plays. His presence will also allow Austin to play in the slot, where he can get a free release off the line of scrimmage and easily get into his routes.

The offense must be better for the Cowboys to maximize their potential. Sure, the Cowboys finished sixth in yards, but they finished 15th in offensive points scored and 20th in red zone efficiency.

No way that's good enough, but that's been the story of Garrett's offense since 2008. In the last four years his offense has ranked second, seventh, eleventh and sixth in yards, while ranking 14th, 13th, 10th and 15th in points scored.

Most of us would prefer to control our professional fate. Garrett is no different.

That's why he'll call the plays.

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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