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Callahan: Offense Wouldn’t Vary Much Under Orton

Posted Dec 26, 2013


IRVING, Texas – Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan equated Kyle Orton’s quarterback experience to riding a bicycle – you never totally forget.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job with his preparation,” Callahan said. “Leading up to this point, I think he’s done tremendous, so I think it’s seamless in terms of transition and what he’s done.”

That confidence is crucial going into this weekend’s game against the Eagles. With a nine-year NFL veteran in Orton ready to start if Tony Romo is unavailable, Callahan said the Cowboys won’t need to change their gameplan going forward.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Romo and Orton play the game the same way. But with the amount of work Orton put in during offseason activities and training camp, not to mention daily conversations during game preparation, Callahan said he doesn’t expect that to make a huge difference.

“I think they like certain plays, certain personnel groupings and certain concepts more than others – I think it’s just kind of a personal affinity to what they want. The system doesn’t vary that much, though,” he said.

That’s to be expected with the amount of experience Orton has accrued over the years -- 69 starts between 2005 and 2011. You could counter that by pointing out Orton’s lack of playing time in the past two years.

One prevailing line of wisdom in the days since Romo’s injury became public has been the importance of DeMarco Murray. The thought is that Murray can take the pressure off Orton while he re-acclimates – a good thought, given Murray’s impeccable play the past six weeks.

Callahan said the plan is to strive for the same balance as always. Murray, true to his fashion, said his only genuine concern is the win.

“I just take it one day at a time. However they want to call it, that’s up to Bill,” Murray said. “I’m just going to make sure I’m ready for whatever they ask me to do.”

Whether that translates to a boatload of carries or a day of blitz pickup, Murray said it doesn’t matter how often his number gets called.

 “If they do, then great, if they don’t that’s all good,” he said. “Like I said, I’m preparing like I do any other week – working hard, making sure I know my assignments, know my keys and things of that nature so I’ll be ready.”

It certainly raises an interesting point about the need for a capable backup quarterback. Fittingly enough, given the circumstances, the Cowboys are squaring off against the backup success story of the season in Nick Foles.

Philadelphia has been on a tear since Foles took over for Michael Vick, going 7-2 in games that he has started. Similarly, the Eagles haven’t needed to rearrange their offense despite the two quarterbacks’ varying styles.

“People talked about it being a quarterback controversy – I never looked at it that way,” said Eagles coach Chip Kelly. “I looked at it as a positive, because it’s very rare in this league that you’re going to make it through the whole year unscathed.”

That much has proven to be true for the Eagles, at any rate. Philadelphia has used three quarterbacks at different times this year, as the Cowboys briefly sidelined Foles with a concussion during their Oct. 20 meeting.

“It’s a very, very difficult position to play. Everybody is hitting you, and they’re protected by rules but they also still take some unbelievable shots,” Kelly said. “I think, if you’re going to last as a team, you’d better have two.”

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said as much when asked about the possibility of starting Orton on Sunday. Jones said the Cowboys gave Orton a $10 million contract for just such a reason. 

With the playoffs on the line, it seems Callahan is grateful for that fact.

“He has good experience. He has knowledge of the game. He’s been through issues and problems, and he knows how to solve them,” Callahan said. “He knows what they are, and they’re recognizable to him. That’s why he have that opportunity to have a veteran quarterback as a backup. We’re very fortunate in that respect.”

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