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Sunday, July 21, 2013
Updated: July 22, 11:18 AM ET
Less is better for Jason Garrett

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

Jason Garrett
"I've divvied up a lot of the responsibilities I had over the past couple of years, and this is just the next step in doing that," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of relinquishing play-calling duties.

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jason Garrett, clad in navy-blue sweatpants, matching long-sleeved shirt and a white visor, must have walked 10 miles between the Dallas Cowboys' morning walk-through practice and their first padded practice of the season on an overcast Sunday afternoon.

He was here, there and everywhere.

At the start of the a.m. session, Garrett stood in the middle of one of the Cowboys' two practice fields and watched the quarterbacks make a few throws.

Then he turned and watched the punt team go through some individual drills for a few minutes before heading to the end of the field, where the offensive linemen were working on their running-game assignments.

A few minutes later, he was observing the defensive linemen work before turning his attention to the running backs and linebackers.

Welcome to Garrett's life as a walk-around head coach.

Now Garrett will tell you that he has made it a priority to coach the entire team -- not just the offense -- since he became the Cowboys' coach eight games into the 2010 season.

And he has always spent time studying the other units during individual drills -- even when he called plays -- because Wade Wilson coached the quarterbacks.

It's just easier to make the rounds with Bill Callahan handling the play calling.

"This has been a conversation Mr. Jones and I have had, and our coaching staff and a lot of people in our organization have had, really for about 2*#189; years," Garrett said of giving up calling plays.

"I was named interim coach in middle of the 2010 season, and we had conversations about how are we gonna handle the play calling," he said, "and for different reasons we decided to do it as we have done it over the past couple years.

"Being a head coach is a big job and being an offensive coordinator or playcaller is a big job. You have to somehow, someway separate yourself from the two. I've divvied up a lot of the responsibilities I had over the past couple of years, and this is just the next step in doing that."

These days, Garrett still takes his familiar spot behind the offense during seven-on-seven or team work, but he's primarily a silent observer as Callahan talks to Tony Romo between plays.

Before we go any further, you must understand Garrett didn't give up the play calling because he thinks anything is wrong with the Cowboys' offense.

He doesn't.

Oh, he knows the running game was abject -- the worst in franchise history -- and the offensive production inside the 20 was sub-par, but Garrett doesn't think that has anything to do with the way he called plays.

To him, it was more about injuries and poor execution.

Think about it: If Garrett and Jerry Jones thought the offensive scheme was the problem, they would scrap it and let Callahan use the West Coast offense he's always used as a playcaller.

Instead, Callahan is using Garrett's offensive system.

Garrett gave up the play calling because Jerry suggested it; and after consecutive 8-8 seasons Garrett, couldn't argue.

Understand that Jerry has always wanted his head coach to call the offensive or defensive plays, because the owner believes it gives the players tangible evidence the head coach is contributing to the team's success.

But Garrett has struggled with game management so much during his 40 games as head coach that Jerry took away the play calling in hopes he won't have to fire him anytime soon.

While Garrett won't be calling plays, he's still going to dictate parts of the offense.

For example, he might tell Callahan to run a screen play in a certain situation and Callahan will pick among the screens in the game plan. Or Garrett might say let's run the ball in another situation.

Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells did the same thing as head coaches in Dallas.

Garrett has also spending more time during the week sitting in on defensive meetings and checking on special teams.

"We see him a lot more than we used to," linebacker Demarcus Ware said. "It's going to make him a better coach, because he can help us with some things because of the way he sees the game."

The hope is that without having to call the plays, Garrett will do a much better job of managing timeouts at the end of halves and games. Since he won't have to converse with Romo between series, Garrett should have a better overall feel for the ebb and flow of the game.

"I've made a very conscious effort to be involved in all parts of football team," Garrett said. "The way we've structured it now will allow me to do that even better."

It must. His future depends on it.