Bill Callahan, seen with clipboard, coaches the Cowboys offensive line against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 2nd, 2012.

Divison of Labor: Why Dallas Needs to Hire a Play-Caller


As we heard on Tuesday, Jerry Jones relieved head coach Jason Garrett of his play-calling duties. Obviously, the most typical and comical response to come from this is how an owner/GM has no right to tell a head coach what to do. Never mind that “real” owners like Bob McNair of the Houston Texans and the Rooney family in Pittsburgh both canned coordinators (Frank Bush, Bruce Arians), unlike Garrett who gave Rob Ryan the pink slip.

Rumors abound that the Cowboys are going to give Bill Callahan the play-caller title. Essentially, he would be the offensive line coach/offensive coordinator/offensive play-caller. Forget Kordell Stewart: Callahan is the new Slash. But this combination of duties does not bode well for the the Cowboys offense.

It reminds me of an old American Indian remark about daylight savings time. One of the chiefs quipped: “Only the American government thinks it can cut a strip of a blanket from the bottom and add it to the top and think they extended the length of the blanket.” It’s the same thing here. While taking away Jason Garrett’s play-calling duties may be the optimal thing so he can concentrate on “the game” and not making Dan Bailey kick 50+ field goals with two timeouts left in the game, it’s ultimately the same complication by dumping these duties on Bill Callahan.

Doesn’t he have enough troubles having to work with Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, and the turnstile at center? Why load a man down who can’t even get his positional unit to perform at an average level with calling the plays for the entire offense?

What Dallas needs to do is hire an offensive coordinator. They really missed the boat with Norv Turner. I mean, I don’t know what happened there. Is Norv Turner that big of a diva that he can’t work under a former backup quarterback of his? Or was Jason Garrett that scared the pock-marked offensive guru would undermine his authority with the team? Well, good luck in Cleveland, Norv. At least they’re not Detroit.

If Jimmy Robinson doesn’t up and retire on us, a good option for offensive coordinator would be Hue Jackson. He has the stability, having been the 2011 Oakland Raiders’ head coach. He helped get good production out of Darren McFadden, finally. Jackson has ties to Cam Cameron, having been the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach in 2008-09. He has familiarity with the system that Garrett runs, because it is similar to Cam Cameron’s.

Of course, Cam Cameron, though being fired by the Ravens this year in favor of Jim Caldewell, who was to head coaching the 2009-11 Colts what Jeremy Bentham is to voting on the College Council for the University College London, would be a good option. He worked with Norv Turner from 1994-96 in Washington. He knows the system that Garrett runs. But the reason why he was fired in Baltimore was he wouldn’t give Ray Rice the ball. So maybe with Cameron, we would still have more of the same: pass more, run less.

Whoever the Cowboys find, they need to find this man. Dumping the play-calling duties on Bill Callahan won’t help anything. It goes against dividing labor and responsibility. Garrett is putting in place an organizational structure where accountability is the rudiment, and asking a man to double up, let alone triple up, the responsibilities isn’t the optimal course of action. Divide the labor; conquer the conference.

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Tags: Bill Callahan Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett The Landry Hat

  • ‘mericas_team2013

    Or, they could bring in a new oline coach…

  • weather command

    my predicition is Jerry hires George Roman from the niners once season is over.

    • M.R. Lane

      Greg Roman has no connections to Garrett. I mean, maybe through Jim Fassel because Fassel and Roman worked for half a season in 2006 with the Ravens, but there’s no strong connection there.

  • californy

    I think we need to go outside the NFL with Pep Hamilton.

    In his first season as Stanford’s offensive coordinator in 2011, the Cardinal
    scored a school-record 561 points and averaged 43.15 points/game, seventh most
    in the nation. Stanford also set a school single-season record for total offense
    (6,361 yards) and finished eighth nationally in total offense/game (489.3).
    Stanford’s 210.6 rushing yards/game ranked 18th nationally.

    As quarterbacks coach, Hamilton worked closely with Luck, who earned Pac-12
    Offensive Player of the Year honors for a second straight season, won the Johnny
    Unitas Golden Arm Award, was voted Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the
    Year and won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player. With 82 touchdown
    passes in 38 career games, Luck broke John Elway’s career record for touchdown
    passes and also moved to the top of Stanford’s career list in total offense,
    finishing with 10,387 yards.

    Hamilton oversaw one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation during his
    first year on The Farm, despite being without the services of talented junior
    Chris Owusu for most of the season. A total of 17 players caught passes,
    including 10 who hauled in at least one touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy
    runner-up quarterback Andrew Luck.

    Stanford’s wide receivers and tight ends combined to catch a school-record 32
    touchdowns in 2010, as Stanford set single-season records for scoring (524),
    scoring average (40.3) and total offense (6,142).

    Prior to his appointment at Stanford in 2010, Hamilton spent three seasons
    (2007-09) as the quarterbacks coach of the Chicago Bears, one season (2006) as
    an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach of the San Francisco 49ers and
    three seasons (2003-05) with the New York Jets, where he served as offensive
    quality control coach (2003) and offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach
    (2004-05).

    Hamilton also spent time on staffs of the Kansas City Chiefs (2000),
    Washington Redskins (2001) and Baltimore Ravens (2002) before landing his first
    full-time position with the Jets in 2003.

    In his final season as quarterbacks coach with the Chicago Bears, Hamilton
    helped Jay Cutler set single-season franchise records for completions (336) and
    passing attempts (555).

    Hamilton helped quarterback Kyle Orton compile the fifth highest completion
    percentage in team history (58.5) in 2008. One season prior, Orton, Rex Grossman
    and Brian Griese led a passing attack that finished with the third-most gross
    passing yards in team history (3,701).

    Hamilton began his coaching career at his alma mater, Howard, where he served
    as the Bison’s quarterbacks coach from 1997-2001. He also took on duties as the
    team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons (1999-2001).

    A former college quarterback, Hamilton earned Howard’s scholar-athlete award
    two consecutive seasons (1995-96) before earning his business degree in
    1997.
    Pep and his wife have three children.

    • M.R. Lane

      I respect your research there, Californy. You neglect to mention an important piece: he worked with both Ron and Norv Turner. So he has an “in” with Garrett.