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Mailbag: Is Callahan’s Play Calling The Offense’s Problem?
Is it safe to say that Jason Garrett calling plays wasn't the problem in years past? There seems to be no sense of urgency to get the ball moving. Is it time to let Bill Callahan go?
Nick: You can't deny there are play-calling issues. Even when they move the ball, some of the time it's when Romo is going no-huddle and calling the plays himself. I've never really believed in the term "establishing an identity" but it doesn't seem like the offense ever has a rhythm. If Garrett feels like a change should be made, he needs to do it.
Rowan: I don't think that's safe to say, because if there was no problem at all then there wouldn't have been a change in the first place. Now, it's fair to argue that making Garrett a walk-around head coach hasn't reaped the game situation benefits that I think the Cowboys may have hoped, but I don't know that much would be different if he were calling plays. It's hard to have a complete grasp on pointing fingers with the play-calling line of command, but it is safe to say it hasn't worked well since the Denver game. I think Callahan's still given the chance to turn it around the last six games, but the rhythm on offense hasn't gotten better from last year.
David: I wish I could tell you who to blame, but all I know is you should never fail to crack 200 yards of offense if you have one of the top 10 or so quarterbacks in the league. Maybe that’s oversimplifying it, but that’s my main takeaway. I’m not sure it’s Callahan’s fault, because we all know Garrett and Tony Romo have plenty of influence on the way everything runs. It just seems like nobody is on the same page as far as what this offense is supposed to look like.
Maybe it is not the coordinator, or 3-4 or 4-3, or man-to-man or Cover 2 that's the problem. Maybe it's the players? You can talk about injuries, but they really have not played up to all the talent they are said to have all season.
Nick: Those who think this team has a lot of talent are just being naive. If they were talented at one point, it's long gone now. This team is so banged up that staff members are having problems knowing the players' names because there have been so many changes. All of that stuff you said in your question is contributing to these mistakes. But this team really isn't very talented on defense.
Rowan: I think that's a fair point. Maybe their talent is overestimated, but it's also the second straight season we won't know the potential of the defense because of the astronomical losses from injuries. The problem with just saying it's all the players' fault is that it's impossible to completely overhaul the roster seamlessly. It's much easier to blame a scheme and to change out a coordinator. This one is allowing far too many yards, and he'll need to earn his paycheck by figuring out why.
David: I hate making excuses, so I’ll limit the injury talk as much as possible. Yes, a boatload of guys have gone down this season, and we’ll never know what things could have looked like if all the injured starters had contributed. But with the exception of Sean Lee and Jason Hatcher, none of the playmakers this defense is built around have played like it. You expect struggles from the likes of Jeff Heath or Micah Pellerin, but if guys like DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr, Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne are struggling, it’s probably not going to go well for any defense.