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.

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

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.