That success in the second half of 2010 likely made Jerry push back on hiring a play caller in 2011. So Garrett stuck with it, and after an 8-8 season rife with rebuilding, Bill Callahan was hired in 2012 as the offensive line coach.
More reckless speculation: Garrett chose Callahan for the express purpose of giving him play-calling duties once he’d familiarized himself with the system. How do you land a Bill Callahan – former NFL head coach, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator – as your O line coach, without the promise of more to come? That Garrett has “relinquished” play-calling duties is the opposite of shocking – it’s the end result of a well-thought-out, deliberately executed, year-long plan.
Consider this as well: If Garrett has any head coaching mentors, they have to be Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban. Jimmy was his first coach as a player in the league back in 1993; Saban gave Garrett his first NFL position coaching job with the Dolphins in 2005.
In Jimmy Johnson’s “A Football Life,” Garrett says, “Jimmy will always be ‘my coach.’ Jimmy’s the guy.” And it’s well-documented that Garrett’s devotion to “process” is a product of his two apparently formative years coaching for Saban in Miami.
Both Jimmy and Saban played important roles in helping Garrett to shape his image of what a head coach should be. Both Jimmy and Saban were walkaround head coaches who delegated play-calling duties.
Garrett decided he wanted to be an NFL head coach, so he followed the process to become one: Position coach first, then coordinator, then head coach. Circumstances got him a bit stuck in the last transition of the process, but that doesn’t mean he always wanted that dual role. Nothing in his past suggests he wanted it. It wasn’t his goal in life to become a coordinator and call plays – he wanted the head job, and the coordinator post was a means to position himself for it.
It’s still early, but now that he’s out from under the play-calling duties, he seems different, doesn’t he? More comfortable in the role? More chippy with his players? A little more in their faces? A little more up in their business? A little more “Jimmy?”
Garrett’s not a control freak – he’s a delegator. Lead, dictate the culture, set the expectations; then hire good people, empower them, and hold them accountable to the standards you set – that’s the Garrett way.
Just watch: When the Cowboys are 7-1 this year, expert conventional wisdom from ESPN will be: “Boy, Garrett sure stunk as a play-caller.” That’ll be fun to watch. September 8 marks the onset of the year 3 RB (Year Three, Redball), and Garrett finally has the coaching staff he wants, the defense he wants, and the position he always envisioned. It’s gonna be fun to be a Cowboys fan this season.