Last week’s loss to Baltimore raised new questions about whether Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett should give up his play-calling duties on offense. Heading into the October 21 game at Carolina, the Cowboys made it clear that Garrett is in control of the offense.
Garrett and the Cowboys came under scrutiny as a result of the final 26 seconds of the game against the Ravens. After quarterback Tony Romo completed a 1-yard pass to Dez Bryant, it took 20 seconds for the Cowboys to take their final timeout. With seconds ticking down, Dan Bailey's 51-yard game-winning field goal attempt hooked left.
During his radio show on Tuesday, Jerry Jones gave no indication that Garrett’s play-calling duties might disappear.
During his radio show on Tuesday, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he liked Garrett’s play call in that situation and gave no indication that Garrett’s play-calling duties might disappear.
Jones’ issue was with how slowly it appeared the Cowboys ran back to the line of scrimmage. The only downside to the play call, Jones said, was it left Dallas vulnerable to not getting another play off because the receivers were away from the line of scrimmage and heading up the field.
Garrett indicated the same downside to the call, but he said the risk was worth the potential reward. Execution, he said, prevented the Cowboys from getting more yards. Garrett said in the past there has been discussion about removing play-calling duties from his job description
“Absolutely,” he said. “You’re always looking at the mechanics of calling plays and handling situations. We think this is the best way to do things right now.”
“Garrett knows what he wants”
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan can sympathize with Garrett. The former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Nebraska Cornhuskers came up on the offensive side of the ball and has called plays before.
Technically, he has the title of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. But the coordinator title is for show. Garrett calls the plays and works with the skill players. Callahan works with the offensive line and says he was hired to assist Garrett.
“(Garrett) knows what he wants,” Callahan said. “He’s open to suggestions. The communication has been phenomenal since I arrived.”
Previous Cowboys coaches, such as Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, delegated play-calling to coordinators. All won Super Bowls.
Callahan said Garrett does a “great job” calling plays, praising the head coach's preparation and knowledge of what Romo wants in the offense. On Thursday, Callahan said the Cowboys worked on four different late-game scenarios on offense. That attention to detail, Callahan said, is normal with Garrett.
This past week, some media called for Garrett to relinquish his play-calling duties and become more of a “walking around head coach,” a type that delegates responsibility on game day so he can theoretically focus on the big picture.
Callahan said that sort of delegation is up to the coach.
“I think it comes down to what the head coach feels comfortable with,” Callahan said. “I have great confidence in how Jason handles it.”
Previous Cowboys coaches, such as Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, delegated play-calling responsibilities to coordinators. All won Super Bowls. But other head coaches have won Super Bowls while calling offensive players, such as former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden and exiled Saints coach Sean Payton.
Running game is strong
Last Sunday against Baltimore, Garrett’s play-calling led to the Cowboys putting up their best rushing game of the season so far, netting 227 total rushing yards. The Cowboys put up those numbers against a weak Baltimore run defense. Many of the blocking schemes Garrett called during the game contributed to that success.
The Panthers may have a run defense as weak as Baltimore’s right now, and they’re further challenged by the fact that two of their best defensive players, linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Chris Gamble, may miss this game due to injury. The Cowboys have their own personnel woes, with Dez Bryant questionable after a groin injury.
As the Cowboys look to get back to .500 for the season, Jones believes his head coach will be prepared for whatever happens.
“Jason is very thought-out and well–rehearsed on the sideline, I assure you,” Jones said.