The Dallas Cowboys Play Caller Circus

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So, let’s say Romo has to elude a defender and extend the play. Happens a lot right? Should Witten run his assigned curl and stop? Is his job done at that point? No, he too has to read the situation and adjust. As soon as a play breaks down the paly call is completely irrelevant. It is now about what the players on the field read and how they react.

That’s one reason why I always kind of chuckle at people who blame poor results on play calling. First of all, what play was called? If you don’t know, how can you judge the play? People do that based entirely upon the results of the play. That may or may not tell you a thing. If Tony Romo ducks a pass rusher, escapes to the right and spots Miles Austin on an adjusted route for a 75 yard TD was it a good play call? Or good execution by those two players? It is the obviously the latter to anyone who knows the game. When two players make an adjustment based upon the events of the play the results are no longer about the play call.

June 11, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) talks with offensive coordinator Bill Callahan during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If a run play is called and someone badly misses a block, was it a bad play call? I don’t know how anyone can say this without knowing what was called and did all 11 guys do their job? It is easier to consider on a run play than it is a pass play only because there is usually just one guy who is being handed off to. But there is no such thing as a pass play with 4 targets that is designed to only go to one player. The QB has to read the coverage, and make a split decision which target he is going to and that guy has to make the play. If Tony throws it to Terrance Williams and it is picked off, but Dwayne Harris was wide open and not seen, is it a bad play call? No, it’s bad execution. Including I might add on the player who let Harris get wide open.

There are way too many factors on any given play for the media in Dallas (whom we have already noted have never played a down of NFL football and probably not a down of college or High School in some cases) to have any earthly clue about the intent and design of a play. Several years ago Jason Garrett and Wade Phillips sat with reporters and diagrammed a single play with every assignment and intended outcome defined. One play took them a half hour to describe if I remember right. One play. Now, think about not just one play, but about every play that can be run out of that formation. Now, think about all of the other formations. Lastly, did the play break down and did the players adjust?

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