After the Cowboys suffered yet another 8-8 season under the guidance of Jason Garrett, it was widely conceivable that 2012 would be his last season at the helm. With coaches such as John Gruden, Bill Cowher and several young assistants on the rise, would Jerry Jones make a change?
Not only did the Cowboys elect to bring Garrett back, but Jones also sees him as a prime asset of the organization. Garrett is a young coach still on a bit of a learning curve, but he is coming to a crossroads in his tenure in Dallas and needs to take a leap forward.
Will he be a walk-around coach? Will he continue to be the head coach and call plays? And is it finally time to delegate some of his job duties to Bill Callahan in the spirit of efficiency?
All are very good questions, but if they do not get sorted out in the near future, expect more drama to ensue. This is the Dallas Cowboys we're talking about, where every move is magnified, every move is scrutinized, and every move is dissected by analysts of all sizes and shapes.
The issues with Garrett continue to lie in the same few areas. Clock-management, inconsistent play-calling in the running game and slow starts haunted this team repeatedly in 2012. In my estimation, the biggest area of concern lies in the fact that the Cowboys finished 31st in rushing last season.
But was it all the fault of the offensive line? The injury problem with DeMarco Murray? Maybe it's a combination of both, but this is the offense that Garrett has built for the last seven seasons and something has to give. If not, here are three reasons why the drama could reach epic levels.
Placement of Blame
Garrett needs to make a decision soon regarding the play-calling duties. On the surface it's probably a move more so for technical purposes, but Garrett's input into the entire offensive process doesn't have to change. What Garrett has to decide is if he's able to handle letting Bill Callahan receive the praise if the offense runs more efficiently under his guidance.
If it's Callahan's call, and not Garrett's, then Garrett runs the risk of then assuming all of the blame if this Cowboys offense sputters, regardless of Callahan. Bear in mind that the Cowboys loaded up on offensive weapons in the draft and was probably done with major input from Garrett.
If he's going to go down then he might as well go down calling the plays.
Being in Jerry Jones' world is enough of a circus atmosphere by itself. But as I stated earlier, this is an organization that is under constant surveillance. When Jerry Jones alluded to Garrett giving up the play-calling duties at the Senior Bowl the media ran with that story. It was portrayed as a forgone conclusion and that Callahan was the man to lead this offense.
But contrary to that report, the Cowboys are still in a gray area with no decision made. The media blitz will continue as long as no announcement is made as to the play-calling duties and that exposes Garrett to more undue pressure. Suppose the Cowboys start out the season with a 1-3 record: What do you think happens next?
Same old Same old
When the Cowboys drafted Gavin Escobar in the second-round it was done as a measure of bringing a new dimension to this offense. Can the Cowboys finally incorporate this 12-personnel that Jones is so adamant on implementing?
Maybe so, but what if it fails and the Cowboys have to rely on the same old combination of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and comebacks to squeak out wins?
Can Garrett live up to the expectations of Jerry Jones and his vision for this offense? Garrett may have to factor this into his final decision of exactly who calls the plays. Suppose Garrett scraps certain aspects of the game plan, including the 12-personnel, and succumbs to his problem areas.
Maybe Garrett has plateaued as an offensive play-caller and he needs to create a similar structure that John Harbaugh employs with the Ravens. And maybe Garrett needs to exert his energy into managing the game, being more efficient and working smarter.
I'm confident that Garrett has factored a lot into his thought process concerning the 2013 offense. I'm sure he has listened to what his boss had to say, as well as the public opinion. But keeping the drama out of things is no easy task regarding this franchise.
I wonder if Garrett has considered that.