Jul 21, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan (left) and quarterback Tony Romo (9) at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Coaching Carousel: Jerry Will Make Right Call On Callahan


You can’t have it both ways, Cowboys fans.

You can’t wail that Jerry Jones is a puppet master, and scream that the addition of Scott Linehan as passing game coordinator makes for “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Hasn’t even been a week and already that phrase is aggravating.

Put another way, you can’t complain that too many coaches have input in the offense, and whine that Jerry doesn’t allow his staff the autonomy to make their own decisions. Either can be true; both can’t be true. If Jerry really is a puppet master, it doesn’t matter how many coaches he has on staff.

Still for many Cowboys observers, the Linehan hire is reason to complain. And if the Cowboys didn’t hire any new coaches, they’d complain the coaching staff didn’t change. And if the Cowboys fired all the coaches, they’d complain about a lack of organizational continuity. And if the Cowboys fired only some of their coaches, they’d complain the wrong ones were fired. Hey, Rob Ryan – am I right, or am I right?

It doesn’t matter what you do, Jerry. Folks will complain about it.

Think Callahan’s not needed because he’s no longer calling plays and the O line is in capable hands with assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack? Think Callahan’s not wanted because Linehan was hired? Think Callahan doesn’t want to be in Dallas because his tender feelings were hurt?

Maybe keeping Callahan on staff is a mistake. Maybe the Cowboys haven’t fired him because his contract is guaranteed unless he resigns. Maybe they will fire him eventually; this story is only a few days old. Maybe they want him to stay because they think he’s a good coach.

The thing is, you don’t know if they’ll retain Callahan or let him go, and you don’t have any facts with which to formulate an opinion as to why they’d do either.

All you have is the assertion that puppet master Jerry runs a dysfunctional organization. That premise is the starting point for every opinion you form regarding every move the Cowboys make. And because you’ve traded your capacity for observation and reason for that conventional wisdom, you can’t see the truth of how smart this organization has become.

It was smart to hire Jason Garrett. A head coach’s chief organizational responsibility is culture, and Garrett replaced Wade Phillips’ culture of blasé entitlement with one of competition and accountability.

Show up to camp fat and slow, Andre Gurode? Take your four pro bowls down the road. Can’t cover a running back on a wheel route, Bruce Carter? Watch the rest of this game standing next to me. Can’t live up to your first-round pedigree, Morris Claiborne? You’re my new nickel corner, until I find one better.

It was smart not to trade out of the first round the past four years, instead using those picks to draft two eventual pro bowlers in Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, and possibly a third in Travis Frederick. Who knows? It’s still early – in his third season, perhaps Claiborne pans out.

It was smart not to offer an expensive extension to a 31-year-old defensive tackle in the midst of an anomalous career year; it was smart to extend on the cheap an undrafted third-year safety who had just torn his Achilles, and would recover to lead all NFL defensive backs in tackles the next season.

It was smart not to deal draft picks for help along an injury-ravaged D line at this year’s trading deadline – mortgaging the franchise’s future for the possibility of short-term help.

This is an organization that values competition. This is an organization that hoards its draft assets. This is an organization that may have finally learned how to evaluate its own talent – knowing when to extend, and when to cut ties.

The NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks last won their division in 2007 with a 10-6 record, then went on to four straight losing seasons before going 11-5 in 2012. How did they do it? By bringing in a coach who created a culture of competition and accountability. By hoarding draft assets, and hitting on enough of them. By being ruthless in evaluating their own talent.

These Cowboys last won the NFC East in 2009, and have endured four straight non-winning seasons. 2014 is year five of their rebuild – the same year the ‘Hawks exploded into a contender. The Cowboys have rebuilt employing the same core fundamentals embraced by this year’s NFC champion. Smart.

Whatever they end up doing with Callahan, I’m ready to trust it.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys

  • SmartThinking

    You make a lot of assumptions in your story. And, you continue to trust the inmates with the keys to the asylum. Your prerogative.

    There’s an established, verifiable link to most of the aspersions you cast re: Garrett and Jones being/remaining capable in their positions … and none of them are good.

    Whether or not Callahan stays or goes is irrelevant at this point. Linehan is the guy. Today, at least, that is irrefutable.

    As for the revolving door circus that is this version of The Dallas Cowboys, when you compare this operation to any of the other football operations in this league, the results clearly point to a madman running the show and this team quickly becoming the laughingstock of american sports.

    • Earl Robertson

      I do think Garrett has change some things. That is why I want him to succeed because I feel he is one guy that Jerry may listen to and not try to get rid of him. The draft seemed to got better but jury is still out. What is frustrating with Garrett is even though he is suppose to be a smart guy he has made too many stupid decisions during the game that has cost the cowboys wins. Also I don’t understand why he doesn’t run the ball more? He was a teammate of Emmitt you think he would know what a running game look like! What I don’t like about this move is they could have Norv Turner and I don’t know the reason why Cowboys didn’t hired him I would like to know. Instead they get this Scott guy who passes even more then Garrett! There is no reason why it has been 17 years and we are stuck in this .500 pct crap! That is truly Jerry fault but I am going to give it one more year to see what happens. If I had to bet my life on it though I would bet that it will be a 7-9 or 8-8 year again. I hope I’m wrong but that schedule is looking brutal so far?

      • SmartThinking

        Three seasons is an eternity in the NFL. Three seasons playing for the division title and losing all three borders on malfeasance.

        You answer your own question re: Garrett. His mismanagement of games has cost this team at least one game for each of his three seasons as HC. Those games, if won, would have cemented this team as division winners, not also rans.

        I’m not one to say last season’s draft was a success quite yet. Frederick was solid. Escobar still puzzles me. Why’s Hanna still here if Escobar is supposed to be the next Witten? Williams’ dumb rookie mistakes cost Dallas one game outright and contributed to the loss of another. Holloman and Wilcox have promise but didn’t excel.

        The Claiborne draft move is turning out to be another Jones bungle. Lee’s acquisition might also if he can’t compete due to constant injuries.

        Kiffin. Callahan. Questions on Romo playing again. The offensive line. The entire defense. The list of problem ares goes on and on. Most teams find a way to make some aspect of their team worry-free. Not Dallas. Other than kicker, I can’t name one area of the team or coaching staff that has a firm grip on its job.

        But maybe it’s just me and the way I ex

        • John

          It’s not just you. You see the world the way most folks do – through the lens of conventional wisdom. No shame in it.

  • big ed

    Great article. I too used to bluster around complaining and griping. Then I quit listening to the “experts”. Instead I looked for my own facts and made up my own mind. I was amazed by how often the conventional wisdom failed to conform to the known facts. Now I am much happier and more optimistic. Go Red Ball!

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    It is true that Jason Garrett is changing the culture of the team. This is something that has been missing for too many years prior to his being hired as head coach. Sure he has made some mistakes which I would call “growing pains” and, like all other head coaches, he will make some more. However, he is steering the team in the right direction despite an owner who continues to get in the way. Because of a meddling owner that would make it extremely difficult for any Cowboy head coach to be successful, fans had better hope he sticks around.

    • Kingdaddy2000

      Woohoo! 8-8, 8-8, 8-8 for three years in A ROW! looks like the right direction to me. :)

      • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

        i would not be opposed to hiring a coach who might do a better job than Garrett. I just don’t think you will find one who would be willing to work under a meddling owner like Jerry Jones. At least Garrett is not as much of a “puppet” as some other coaches he has hired and the good ones like Parcells don’t seem to stick around for some odd reason. The Cowboys have much greater problems than the head coach.

      • johnnydals

        Could have been 3-13 had the team QUIT on GARRETT!!! Could have been 10-6…11-5 without INJURIES!!! IS THAT GARRETTS FAULT????

        • Kingdaddy2000

          Every team faces injuries. Yes, the Cowboys seem to have more than many, but definitely not all. And yes, that can be partially attributed to Jerry’s propensity to try to find gold in draft picks, players who have slipped out of the first round due to injury in college – e.g. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.

          HOWEVER, the Cowboys are the epitome of mediocre, and Garrett has a proven track record of being unable to improve that. Maybe no coach will ever be able to fix things in Dallas, given the structure Jerry has in place. But Garrett has had enough chances and change is warranted.