Jason Garrett struggling to let go

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sure made it sound like he's going to give up play-calling duties.

Sooner or later.

And when he does, offensive line coach Bill Callahan will take over. Garrett is just not ready to say it publicly. Perhaps it's because he's doing it reluctantly, although he made it clear that the final decision belongs to him. Or because the owner has strongly suggested he do it.

Just so you know, Garrett did reference the "mechanics" of making the switch about a hundred times Wednesday during his first news conference in 44 days. As you would expect, Garrett refused to divulge exactly what that means.

"I don't want to definitely say one way or the other. We're trying to move in that direction," Garrett said of the play-calling mystery. "Bill and I have talked about different ways we can do it.

"... It's about the team, the team, the team. Every decision we make is in the best interest of our football team. It's my job to do that. I've never been a guy who's, 'hell or high water, I'm the playcaller.' That's not me."


Don't be fooled. Garrett is conflicted about giving up the play-calling duties. After all, we're talking about a former high school, college and NFL quarterback who coached quarterbacks for the Miami Dolphins before becoming the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and playcaller in 2007.

Even Garrett's mentors don't agree on the best approach. Jimmy Johnson told him to be a walk-around head coach, while Sean Payton and Norv Turner have told him it's important to call plays.

In the past, Garrett has talked about the success Tony Romo has had in this offense, and he even had the gumption to compare the Cowboys to the NFL's best offenses since he became offensive coordinator.

Shocking, I know.

His point: The head coach has called the plays for many of the NFL's best offenses over the past few years, citing teams like New Orleans and Green Bay.

So what?

We know the Cowboys have gained a zillion yards with Garrett as their offensive coordinator, but the game is about scoring points. And that's where Garrett's offense has failed every year except 2007, when Tony Sparano handled the running game and forced Garrett to commit to it.

Let's look at where the Cowboys ranked in offensive points scored, which doesn't include special teams and defensive touchdowns, since Garrett's arrival. The Cowboys ranked 15th in 2012 (348), 10th in 2011 (362), 13th in 2010 (345), 14th in 2009 (339), 13th in 2008 (346) and second in 2007 (427 points).

Let's tell the truth. The Cowboys have had an elite offense once in the Garrett era, and that occurred in 2007.

If Garrett's offense had been productive, we wouldn't be having any conversations about changing playcallers. Jerry Jones has been adamant over the years that he wants his head coach to call the offensive or defensive plays because it gives the players tangible proof that the head coach is helping them win games.

So the change is a big deal, even if Garrett wants us to believe it's not.

"It's not like everyone sits in their office and I come up with a game plan and say, 'OK guys, here's what we're going to do,' " he said. "That's not how we operate. We've never operated that way. I think it's stupid to operate that way.

"You have great resources on your staff and you try to rely on those resources during the week and during the ballgame, and it's worked pretty well for us."

Frankly, that's a matter of opinion, considering the Cowboys are 16-16 the past two seasons and 21-19 since Garrett replaced Wade Phillips.

Besides, Jerry and Jason have made it a big deal by being noncommittal about who's calling the plays.

Think about it: The Cowboys needed eight days after the season to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and scrap a defensive scheme they've had since Bill Parcells arrived in 2003. But Garrett's not going to know whether he's going to call plays until the preseason games start in August?


When Garrett finally gets around to officially giving up the play calling, which realistically should happen during one of the offseason minicamps or OTAs, he'll hand it over to Callahan. He has had a year to understand Garrett's scheme and add some of his own flavor to it. He also has had time to study the Cowboys' current personnel.

The Cowboys hired Frank Pollack, Oakland's offensive line coach last season, so he's capable of coaching the line, giving Callahan more time to create game plans.

The decision has been made. Garrett's ego is simply coming to grips with it.