Should Jason Garrett call plays for the Cowboys?
Overwhelmed Garrett has help
Put this in the same category as the constant complaining that Jerry Jones should hand over the reins to a real general manager.
It's never going to happen, no matter how much sense it makes.
Nope, Jerry has decided that a "walk-around head coach," to borrow his term, just won't work for the Cowboys. Never mind that walk-around head coaches helped put three Super Bowl rings on his fingers. All the play-calling head coaches have combined for a grand total of one playoff win since Dallas' '90s dynasty died.
The owner would apparently rather continuing watching his overwhelmed head coach botch critical situations because his Ivy League brain is so focused on calling plays to manage the clock correctly.
That has happened three times in the last 10 games. How many more strikes should Garrett get before he hands the bat to somebody else?
The Cowboys have another proven play-caller on the staff in offensive coordinator (in title only) Bill Callahan, who handled those duties for a Super Bowl team in Oakland. If the priority at Valley Ranch wasn't to protect egos, it'd make perfect sense for Garrett to give Callahan the play-calling responsibilities and shift his sideline focus to getting the game management right.
Hate to break it to Garrett and his boss, but it ain't like we're talking about another Bill Walsh here.
Check the offensive category that matters most: points scored. The Cowboys currently rank 24th in the NFL with 18.8 points per game. They've regressed each season since Garrett took over for Wade Phillips, whose defense flopped in his final half-season as Jerry's puppet.
If Garrett is still considered an offensive genius, it's because he's living off the reputation the redhead was given in 2007, when the Cowboys finished second in the NFL in scoring and third in total offense in his first season as an offensive coordinator.
Think it's a coincidence that was the sole season that Tony Sparano served as Garrett's right-hand man? By the way, it's not like Garrett's arrival gave life to a struggling offense. With Sparano calling the plays, the Cowboys finished fourth in scoring and fifth in total offense the previous season despite Drew Bledsoe starting the first six games.
Since Sparano left, the Cowboys have finished higher than 14th in scoring once. What good is continuity if it means more mediocrity -- and clock-management miscues?
Garrett is not the problem
I think we had this same question last year. Or maybe the year before. Maybe both.
See, this is what we do. When things go bad, we want somebody's hide and say, "Aha! This is what the problem is. Fix this and all will be well."
Jason Garrett calling plays is not the problem. Jason Garrett at the end of tight games has been a problem. He has let too many seconds go off the clock in three close games, and it's inexcusable given how tough it is to win the NFL and how much Garrett preaches situational football.
But taking away the play calling from Garrett does not solve that issue. It adds another layer of bureaucracy to the process. And I hate saying something like that because that's the same reason Jerry Jones uses to be the owner and general manager of this team.
There is a big difference, however. The head coach has to make decisions on the fly. The general manager is supposed to be reasoned and rational in an offseason.
If you want Garrett to lose play-calling duties, then you're under the supposition that he does nothing but think of that particular play and that particular play only. The play caller has to think of everything from the time and score, down and distance, what defensive personnel is on the field. Everything.
You also believe there was a coach on the staff reminding Garrett of the situation in the fourth quarter Sunday. Apparently there wasn't one. Or Garrett tuned that guy out. You can't guarantee me it will be better if Garrett loses the play calling, which is something I think he is pretty good at doing.
Say Garrett allowed Bill Callahan to call the plays. Do you think the head coach would stand down and not be involved? If the same situation arose Sunday and Garrett wasn't the play caller, do you think he would have said, "Now, remember, we have one timeout left, so let's not run Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree down the field on vertical routes?" Just because his load was lighter on the day of games?
Sean Payton called the plays in New Orleans and succeeded. Mike McCarthy is doing the same in Green Bay. It can be done by one guy and with success. Heck, Tom Landry called the offense and defense at times when he coached the Cowboys.
We talk all the time about how a quarterback needs a clock in his mind to make decisions quickly or he'll take too many sacks.
Garrett needs that clock as well, to speed up his thought process in close games.
Taking away the play-calling -- especially after the Cowboys' best offensive day of the season -- doesn't solve the problem. It only might create a bigger one.
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