IRVING, Texas – As unwilling as he was to elaborate on the Cowboys' playcalling situation last week, Jason Garrett dove deep into the matter Tuesday afternoon.
Garrett spoke to the media for roughly 20 minutes following the Cowboys' first practice of minicamp, with about two thirds of the press conference centering around the team's coaching hierarchy going into the coming season.
Gone was the confusion of just one week ago, when Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan affirmed that Callahan would take over playcalling in 2013, only to be contradicted by Garrett just 20 minutes later.
"We had (a plan) in place, and we've been working really since the end of January with that in mind," Garrett said. "What that in mind is, is on offense Bill Callahan has been the acting offensive coordinator and he's going to take on the responsibility of calling the plays."
That much was confirmed last week, though Garrett was reluctant to admit it. Where the third-year head coach differed was his acknowledgment of the situation, which he said was the result of a communication breakdown.
"We made that decision months ago, but where we did have a little bit of a miscommunication was where we were going to present that information publicly," Garrett said.
No one would ever expect Garrett, who began his own stint on the Cowboys' coaching staff as an offensive coordinator, to completely relinquish his hand in the offensive gameplan. But after two full seasons at the helm, he did allow that taking a step back should be able to help him focus on the entire team.
"This is something that I've always tried to do," Garrett said. "I just think this structure might be a little bit cleaner for me – where the responsibilities on offense are delegated a little bit more. That might free me up a little bit more."
The process of making that decision is something Garrett said the organization has discussed since his first days in charge of the team, as far back as 2010.
"There are a lot of different structures around the league on how to structure your staff and who calls the offensive plays and the defensive signals and all of that," Garrett said. "The most common one is a head coach, a true coordinator on offense, a true coordinator on defense and a true coordinator on special teams – probably 27 or 28 teams in the league do it that way, and that's the way we're going to."
Callahan's familiarity with the offense after one season in Dallas, as well as his years of experience in coaching different systems, were the guiding forces behind the eventual switch. Though the success that some teams have had in different format has been cause for past discussions.
"There are a handful of teams that have had the head coach be the acting offensive coordinator in calling the plays, and they happen to be some of the best offenses," Garrett said. "So there was always that argument that we made – some of the best guys do it this way. So we had that tug – we've really had that tug for the past couple of years, and we finally decided this was the best way to do it."
With the change made as long ago as January, it raises the question why Garrett felt compelled to hold off on announcing the new roles. He offered several reasons: firstly, that the arrival of several new coaches, including defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, meant the "mechanics" of the process still needed to be worked out. [embedded_ad]
The second reason, as Garrett mentioned last week, was the lack of competitive advantage. Garrett said he didn't see the benefit of announcing the decision during the offseason, and he added that some coaching staffs he has worked on in the past made a concerted effort not to reveal play callers at all.
"Just candidly, you guys come to practice and you guys watch and you guys see where I am and you guys see where the playcallers are, so it wasn't going to be a big secret," he said. "But to stand up here and share it prematurely – I didn't think that was in our best interest. But it came out, and it's not a big deal, and I take full responsibility for that communication not being as clean as it should have been."
Garrett assumed responsibility for the prior mix up on several occasions, but he was certain to return to a point from last week, which is that he and the Cowboys' coaching staff are completely onboard and in agreement with Jones and the front office.
"Mr. Jones, Stephen, our staff and I – we're all on the same page," Garrett said. "We've been on the same page for months, and we've been acting that way around this building. We just haven't said it out loud."