IRVING, Texas — Before Jason Garrett could finally confirm that he’s indeed relinquished the playcalling duties to Bill Callahan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones needed to make an announcement of his own. Imagine that.
While Garrett waited in a hallway talking to an old friend, Jerry was announcing a new partnership with Nationwide Insurance. And moments later, All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware was singing the company’s familiar jingle in an impressively high octave.
This is how business is done at Valley Ranch. Jerry speaks. Everyone else provides courtesy laughter. When Garrett finally stepped to the lectern, he brought some clarity to the Cowboys’ playcalling situation. He’d stubbornly refused last week to confirm the news that Jones accidentally (or not) leaked to the media last week. But on Tuesday, he decided to try to put this nonsense behind him and own the decision, which he said was made collectively.
I think Garrett was embarrassed by last week’s leak, and that’s why he initially chose not to confirm the news. It’s my belief that Garrett wanted to wait until at least the first preseason game before providing some clarity regarding the playcaller. He thought it might provide the Cowboys with some type of competitive advantage. Now, he’s embracing a decision that may end up saving his job.
“It does give you a chance to step back a little bit more than I would otherwise,” Garrett said Tuesday. “That’s a positive thing. I just think this structure might be a little cleaner for me, where the responsibilities on offense are delegated a little bit more and it may free me up a little bit more.”
I never thought Garrett was a poor playcaller. But there are numerous examples of him struggling with game management. And he doesn’t have the market cornered in that area (see Andy Reid). Perhaps this will free him up to have more involvement in all areas. Garrett is an extremely gifted planner and thinker, but he seems to falter under the gun. He’ll still have to make quick decisions, but at least he won’t be doing it while trying to come up with the next play.
Of course, there’s an elephant in the room that just received an enormous long-term contract. I fully believe that if Tony Romo had told Jones that changing playcallers was a bad idea, the change would not have occurred. Romo has more job security and sway at Valley Ranch than anyone except Jerry (sorry, Stephen). The Cowboys’ owner wants Romo to have a bigger voice in the game-planning process, and Jerry may have felt like Garrett was getting in the way. Contrary to popular belief, Romo has always put in the hours at Valley Ranch. When he was a backup quarterback from ’03-’05, he devoured anything written about Johnny Unitas. (William Nack was his favorite sportswriter, by the way).
Like any quarterback, Romo would love to add more no-huddle to the game plan and call his own plays. Perhaps Jerry thought it would be easier for him to do so with another playcaller at the helm. It’s a touchy subject because Garrett and Romo actually have a tremendous relationship. On Tuesday, Romo continued to take a “nothing to see here” approach, which is probably smart.
“This is Jason’s system, and it’s been Jason’s system since he’s been here,” said Romo. “It’s going to stay that way. I think everything will blend together nicely. We’re going to do some things, without getting into too much detail, that are going to be good.”
But perhaps we’ve spent too much energy this offseason trying to identify the Cowboys’ playcaller. The man with the most influence in this offense will be lining up behind center.