Jerry Jones wasted no time in hiring an extra offensive mind to the coaching staff. Bill Callahan’s hiring was announced last week by the Dallas Cowboys organization, just days after the regular season ended. He replaces Hudson Houck, long time offensive line / running game coordinator. According to some reports, Callahan will claim the offensive coordinator title, while other publications indicate offensive line coach. And then there’s Houck’s additional title of running game coordinator. Not quite sure what we will call him, or what his duties will entail, but we welcome him, none the less.
Callahan’s offensive expertise began when he played quarterback for Illinois Benedictine College in the mid-’70’s. In the early ‘80’s, he was an assistant, tight ends, offensive line, quarterbacks, and special teams coach at University of Illinois.
Throughout the ‘90’s, he coached offenses at a few other universities around the nation. His NFL resume includes the following: offensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders, then head coach the 2002-2003 seasons. In 2002, he led them to Super Bowl XXXVII against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, they lost 48 – 21 that night in January, 2003, and within one year, he was unemployed.
Most college fans around the nation will recognize the name Bill Callahan and associate it with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In 2004, Callahan was hired to lead the Big Red faithful back to their old glory days. He was not one of their own, however, and the Husker Nation never did embrace him, an outsider from the start. One college fan stated, “a chimpanzee on roller skates would be a better fit for a college head coach than Bill Callahan.” He was let go in 2007.
For the past four years, he worked for the New York Jets as their assistant head coach. He has had success, going to a Super Bowl as a rookie head coach and breaking several team records with the Raiders. I do hope the Dallas Cowboy faithful will embrace him, despite having no ties to this organization. It will be interesting to see, if allowed to call the plays, how his style gels with Jason Garrett’s more conservative play-calling.
Callahan’s teams have led the NFL in passing, total offense, most first downs, most passes attempted / completed, and best passing percentage. Other statistics of interest include second in the NFL in scoring and second in points allowed per game. With the NY Jets, Callahan’s running game gained 2,756 yards on the ground through 16 regular season games. They led the NFL in the running game. Maybe this is just what Tony Romo needs to use his skills as a passer. Next season, when Romo breaks all kinds of records, I will personally go on a Leon Lett apology tour for my most recent article.
My good friend Kevin, faithful supporter of the Cornhuskers, gave me this nugget of information when I asked him to tell me about Bill Callahan. Kevin was at the spring game in Callahan’s first year. Everyone was anticipating the first offensive play of this west coast offense thing which was about as foreign to all things Nebraska as a view of the ocean. They lined up and he swears there were about five different shifts, tight end moving from one side to the other, wide receiver in motion, etc…there’s literally this audible “ooooohhhh” from the crowd watching this. Joe Dailey, the quarterback – a good kid, but not exactly a passing phenom – takes the snap, goes back and launches a pass down the middle to the tight end, which, predictably, falls incomplete. Didn’t matter. Crowd stood and cheered. The moral: Callahan could put in all the whiz-bang in the world, but if the right personnel aren’t there to work it, it won’t matter. There was a little bit of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole for a while there on his part, it seemed. Once he got players to fit the system, offense wasn’t a problem for the most part.
Welcome Coach Callahan. Here’s to hoping the Cowboys will embrace your west coast style.