Austin On Dallas: Cowboys’ Play-Caller Mystery A Pointless Smokescreen


June is creeping closer at a rapid pace, the Cowboys are involved in OTA’s, and the resounding question on the minds of Dallas Cowboys fans remains who will call the plays in 2013.  It’s been an irritating musical chairs of vague answers since the impending change was first revealed to the media by Jerry Jones back in January.

Who can blame fans and media alike for consistently bombarding the general manager and his head coach with play-caller questions.  After all, Jerry Jones force-fed us the promised change as one of his main “things are about to get uncomfortable” scapegoats.

He all but literally declared Jason Garrett will no longer call plays so he can focus more on managing the overall team and game strategy.  As June quickly approaches, the elephant in the room curiosity remains unresolved involving play-calling responsibilities.

Is it finally time to accept that Jones’ initial bold declaration was a ‘shock and awe’ attempt to divert Cowboys fans away from the monumental disaster of missing the playoffs for a third straight year?  Not to mention the abysmal 22-26 record over the last 3 seasons.


This is not a minimal decision to make in the least.  The play-caller of a professional football team levies a gigantic effect on offensive success.

Jones can preach X, Y, Z will be forming the gameplan together until the cows come home, but that planning aspect remains miniscule compared to exactly who is executing the plan on a play-by-play basis.

A football game does not follow a game script past a limited amount of plays.  It’s almost impossible to do so beyond 15 plays as previous results and game situations dictate constant change.

For the most part, the play-caller has less than 20 seconds to relay the decided play for every down.  It involves constant rushed decisions with massive game situation considerations, and the play-caller’s decisions effect success consistently.

Since the important choice continues to be hidden from the public behind the veil of ‘yet to be determined’, it’s time to realize we are all involved in a not so clever smokescreen.  It’s as simple as taking a look at some highlights from the timeline of statements involving the 2013 Cowboys’ play-caller duties…

JANUARY 22, 2013 (Senior Bowl)

"It’s not a step back for Jason. It’s actually a step forward for Jason in my mind. When he became the head coach, it was at my insistence that he continue to call the plays. It was not at Jason’s insistence. It is not a step back for the Cowboys or a step back individually for him to change the way we basically are putting our game plan together or are calling the plays on the offensive side of the ball.If Bill Callahan has more influence…then you will see more of some of the things that work for him in his coaching career.  — Owner/GM Jerry Jones, 1/22/13"

JANUARY 31, 2013

"He’s got a unique position. He (Jason Garrett) knows our key players better than anybody. He knows what (Tony) Romo is and isn’t better than anybody. He knows where we’ve been in terms of our offense, certainly over the last six years.So he’s got a lot of experience with our personnel (and) with our offense. One of the things that I’m happiest about is who we got putting this together, and that’s Jason Garrett.  — Owner/GM Jerry Jones, 1/31/13"

FEBRUARY 13, 2013

"As we go, we’ll work through it. We trust the process and we’re pretty confident we’ll get it right. It’s a collective process. We game plan together. It’s not like everyone sits around and I come up with the game plan. That’s not how we operate. We have never operated that way. I think it’s stupid to operate that way. When you have great resources on your staff, you try to rely on those resources during the week and during the ballgame.  — Head Coach Jason Garrett, 2/13/13"

MAY 13, 2013

"He’s played a lot of games now. He (Tony Romo) certainly had a lot of time on the job before he ever started and played. He has a unique grasp of our offensive concepts. The people who are around him the most – his coaches – tell me he’s never had a bad idea.If you think about where he’s at right now, he’s 10 years older than most of the players we have on the field. We think his skill level right now is very much where we hoped it would be and will be for several years to come. But what we want to use more than we ever have is the kind of thing that (Roger) Staubach contributed – input into designing a plan that helps us beat that opponent.  — Owner/GM Jerry Jones, 5/13/13"

MAY 21, 2013

"Yeah, I think that’s a fair way to say it (when asked if they are still working on the play-caller duties). …I think we have a pretty good plan, and we’ll execute it as the offseason progresses.  — Head Coach Jason Garrett, 5/21/13"

***Of note, it’s been reported OC Bill Callahan is relaying the plays to the Cowboys’ QB for each play during OTA’s.  A task always performed by the play-caller in a real football game. Practice duties can vary, but typically it’s the same set-up.***


What a confusing mess Jerry Jones has allowed this play-caller situation to become.  After all, he was the one who adamantly voiced the monumental change in the first place. Only to retract the force of his statement a week later by eluding the play-caller decision falls in the lap of Jason Garrett.

In February, Garrett basically made a statement saying the play-caller position is of little importance as they would all design the gameplan collectively and that’s what really matters. Okay Jason, keep floating that line, it’s pure nonsense in football circles.

Just as fans begin to suspect Jerry Jones has cowardly backed down on his promise and Jason Garrett will keep the duties, Tony Romo is wildly included in the fiasco as a very significant factor into the play-caller scenario.  And the management and irresponsible statements continue to get more obscure from Jones.

Of course your veteran star QB has strong input into strategy and a voice in the game plan.  If an NFL offensive coordinator is not already including this aspect of valuable input, he’s simply naive.  All this Romo declaration did was make the public scratch their head, Jerry look foolish, and Jason frustratingly have to clean up his mess with coherent explanations.

The Boys are currently involved in OTA’s this week.  Garrett recently stopped short of naming the play-caller, but eluded it’s already resolved behind closed doors.  Bill Callahan has been the coach relaying plays to the QB, which is almost always the actions of the play-caller.

Anyone else think all of the run-around was a smokescreen to insulate Jones from the backlash from his harsh declaration in January.  Or to protect Jason Garrett’s feelings after Jones stepped all over the head coaches’ control over these decisions.  Or maybe it was even a diversion from Tony Romo’s inflated contract numbers with Jones explaining he’s now an expanded, major contributor to the gameplan.

In my opinion, all these guys (Garrett, Callahan, and Romo) already put in many hours together each week planning the current game’s strategy.  There will be little change to the collective strategy methods in 2013.  Most of the statements to expand that were fluff and diversion.

As for the play-caller, I strongly believe Bill Callahan was decided on before Jerry Jones ever made his first bold statement of the change way back in January.

The reason it has taken so long to become official (and still hasn’t), is that apparently egos were bent and have required mending to keep the status quo.  Which seems to be a recurring theme after Jerry Jones makes embarrassing, whiplash remarks these days.

As we all know very well, here at the country club, they certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by making tough, no-nonsense decisions when it comes to Jones, Garrett, or Romo. The Three Amigos are protected at all costs by one another.

If one gets his feathers ruffled, the other two come running to back-track or publicly pick up the slack to make it all better.  Wouldn’t want to make things really ‘uncomfortable’ at the Dallas Cowboys’ country club, would we Mr Jones?