Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett's anticipated press conference last week offered next to nothing as far as concrete answers to numerous questions. Not that we could have expected more at this time of year, but there was an oddity to this gathering that I've never seen or heard before in the NFL.
It's no secret that the Cowboys have made numerous changes to the coaching staff and defensive side of the ball, processes that began just hours following a season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins that eliminated Dallas from postseason play for a third consecutive season.
But there's an aura of secrecy surrounding Garrett, Jones and especially the offensive side of the ball that is unusual. About all that has been stated is that Garrett will no longer be calling offensive plays —and as you know, they were quite offensive already.
So, heading into last week's press conference with Garrett and other members of the coaching staff, it was safe to assume that the one big question remaining would center around who will call the plays in 2013.
And that is still a question.
Sometimes when an easy answer is not provided to an even easier question, it's because the question itself isn't really a question at all.
Here is my theory and I'll explain where I'm coming from here.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has been obviously miffed since that Washington loss against a rookie quarterback playing on one-and-a-half legs. But I don't believe he is particularly upset with his team's fortunes on the field, or at least that is what the evidence clearly shows.
Was winning a concern when Jones helped orchestrate the exile of former head coach Jimmy Johnson on the heels of back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the winter of 1994?
Of course it wasn't.
So in came, of all people, Barry Switzer, a former head coach exiled from Oklahoma amidst all kinds of questionable activities. This was nothing but a personal, nasty shot at Johnson.
Was Switzer better than Johnson?
So when considering the events of this offseason, we can bet money we don't have that every decision made thus far has been made by Jones and only Jones.
NFL.com writer Albert Breer recently told Dallas/Ft. Worth sports radio station 105.3 The Fan that he felt, based on Garrett's demeanor during that press gathering, that Garrett still wanted to call offensive plays. I completely agree with that assessment given the very reason Garrett was rushed into town in the winter of 2007 was to take an offensive coordinator's gig that he probably wasn't prepared for. Just three seasons prior, he was still a bench-warming quarterback!
This idea belonged to Jones and only Jones, as far as anyone can tell.
But Garrett has been so bad, at least at times, that now Jones has been put under the microscope like never before. This is always an uncomfortable place unless the circumstances are positive—and even then it gets pretty irritating.
But not to Jones. When the going is good, he wants the limelight. But when things get tough, like they are right now, he simply shoves a head coach or other staffer under that lense.
And here is where it gets really strange: The message we did get from this press conference is that—get this—it doesn't matter who calls plays for the Dallas offense in 2013.
Well, I would confidently suggest that this answer is given because the question isn't really a question to Jones. His ego will stay the course no matter what happens, which is why Johnson was dismissed despite reaching the NFL mountaintop twice.
Wins and losses aren't much of an issue. Fans still show up in droves to either watch this mediocrity in person or simply to overpay for hot dogs and beer while watching the game on the world´s largest HD television.
Jones realizes that Garrett can't be sold as a head coach anymore, let alone an offensive play caller. Garrett either isn't seasoned enough or—I'll say it—smart enough to manage an NFL offense. It's not like execution or balance has ever been a part of the Garrett offense in Dallas.
But to have a guy like offensive line coach/offensive coordinator—but not play-caller—Bill Callahan also stating that it doesn't matter who calls plays next season is just ridiculous.
When the Dallas offense was highly ineffective in 1990, a green assistant coach named Dave Shula was shown the door after just two seasons in favor of the more experienced Norv Turner. It was Shula's first OC gig, I'll add.
Well, because back then it did matter who called the plays. Johnson knew this and he acted accordingly—and it didn't matter that Shula´s daddy was the legendary Don Shula. This is why the younger Shula now runs steakhouses and plays a decent game of golf. He´s been out of football since 1996 following a completely unmerited stint as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jones appears to have neutered his developing head coach this offseason, but this is only smoke and mirrors. Jones is strangely tight with the Garrett family and has been for many years now. Cronyism is one of those things that doesn't have to make sense on the outside because anyone looking in from there will never get it—but it's always there and it seldom changes.
Jones' Texas-sized ego will not allow him to admit mistakes very often. The same is true in this case, as the "buddy-system" that reeks from the upper ranks of the Dallas front office is evident.
This is precisely why Garrett is even employed in Dallas.
You think that Johnson or former head coach Bill Parcells would have put up with this crap for so long?
Garrett was brought in to coordinate the offense, but this project has finally burned itself out.
But Jones wanted this plan to work and, believe it or not, he's just getting started with Garrett. The specific reasons are unknown, but this is the only explanation as to why Garrett is still around following average-at-best results as a head coach and now an apparent disinterest in the very reason he was said to be brought to North Texas—to be offensive coordinator.
Among top members of the Dallas coaching staff, Garrett is the least qualified and/or tenured member in the room.
Because Jones wants it this way, and shame on the media and his fans for pointing out the obvious. He's not upset with Garrett, but rather the fact he has to further create the illusion that his plan is still going as expected.
Billionaires get rather accustomed to not answering to anybody.
And this is why Garrett will most likely call plays in 2013, despite the illusion we're all being given.
Only Jones' ego could sell that this area doesn't matter.
The Cowboys can change up the entire defensive coaching staff and scheme in a matter of days—but they just can't decide what to do with the offense?
I'm not buying it.
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