INDIANAPOLIS** – Head coach Jason Garrett will unquestionably have less input on offense this year, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Jones said that was the design last year as well, but it didn't end up working out as originally planned. The addition of Scott Linehan now means an entirely new offense with new terminology and ideas, allowing Garrett to actually have more of a focus on defense than offense.
As Jones put it, Garrett "won't have the last pencil down this year" the way he had last year when it comes to the offense.
"He'll have a lot more time spent on defense than he will on offense," Jones said. "We want his input on defense."
Jones said he wants Garrett to work with the defensive staff and use his offensive mind to show how he'd attack a defensive plan.
"His focus on the defense I think is going to make a big difference," Jones said. "You've got Linehan's head coaching experience, you've got Bill (Callahan) with head coaching experience, you've got (Derek) Dooley with head coaching experience, you've got some great experience.
"And we have the need to see if there are aspects of what we can do offensively that are different than what we've been doing over the last six years. We have that need and we're going to get it. We're going to get that without throwing the baby out with the bath water."
Jones reiterated that Linehan will come in with "completely real change" on offense, including different terminology with his scheme.
"He's got a track record of really zeroing in and building the offense around the talent, the specific talent and qualities of the players," Jones said. "(Tony) Romo has certain skills and talents and abilities and has very unique mental capabilities on the field. He'll make it go."
Jones said Garrett, who coached with Linehan in Miami, has enough confidence in what the new play-caller can bring that he's willing to step further back and essentially hand over the offensive duties. He said had Linehan not been available, he would have given Callahan more of an emphasis on offense this year.
But he wasn't going to pass up on adding Linehan when that opportunity presented itself.
"We weren't out looking for somebody to do it differently than Callahan," Jones said. "We were going to put more emphasis on Callahan, but when Linehan became available… that changed our thinking."
Jones said Tony Romo had "serious discussions" with Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford about Linehan and now has a great feel for Linehan's imagination and what Linehan can do to maximize players' skills while bringing flexibility in the scheme within the parameters of the offense. [embedded_ad]
He said Romo and Linehan will be locked at the hip and that the most excited person in the Cowboys' organization about the addition of Linehan was Romo, who will still have a great deal of power within the offense.
"Romo was a tremendous supporter of Bill Callahan, but was absolutely ecstatic over us getting Linehan," Jones said.
Jones believes Garrett's learned a great deal and is more season and knowledgeable as a coach after years with the team, but doesn't mind the idea of having a "lame duck coach." He said he thinks people can sometimes work stronger without knowing their future and that Garrett has a "high tolerance for ambiguity."
Even without an extension before the year, though, Jones said the plan is for Garrett to be the coach beyond this upcoming season.
Entering his last year of his deal, Garrett has to hope the changes made pay off quickly. Jones said he believes having the experience of multiple coaches on staff who were once head coaches should benefit Garrett. He said it's a big deal for Garrett's future that he gets the experience of working with the coaches around him.
"You know that every time he looks in his players' eyes that most of those guys right there if they have a bad year or mess up or take an injury, that that's there year, too," Jones said. "We are dealing with those kinds of what ifs. But this is the one I'm comfortable with – the status we are in right now with our staff. I like our staff. Jason should know, and I know that he knows, that the plan here has been for him to be long-term, and long-term certainly being beyond this year, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys."