Skip to main content

You Make The Call

not as if the title of offensive coordinator is insulting to Callahan, a former college quarterback himself at tiny Illinois Benedictine who has 13 years of NFL coaching experience, as an assistant, offensive coordinator and head coach of the Oakland Raiders (two seasons) along with being the head coach at the University of Nebraska for four seasons. Face it, it's not as if he had to take this job, since the Jets wanted to extend his expiring contract as offensive line coach/assistant head coach.

"I'll say this about titles," Callahan began addressing the issue. "Everybody in the National Football League, everybody is into titles, and I think titles are great for organization and structure, but as Jason just mentioned, he will be the play-caller, and my job as assistant coach, coordinator or however you want to deem it, is to serve the head coach and help the organization the best that I can, and help these players the best that I can.

"So in the end, it's all about working together. It's not about titles, being an individual or trying to promote yourself. It's really about helping the team, helping the offensive staff, helping the offensive players to get to where we all want to go. When everybody is pulling the rope together, that's when you have success. So it doesn't matter. I think any coordinator in the National Football League will tell you, in my experience, you formulate the game plan during the week and essentially anybody can call the game. I've got great, great trust in Jason."

Now this is not to say Callahan won't have an influence on Garrett, the game-planner and play-caller. That is the genius of bringing in experienced guys from outside the organization, guys with maybe different ideas, guys who might challenge your ideas, instead of just perpetuating the same old thinking.

And you had better hope Callahan has a huge influence on the Cowboys' running game, because despite the amount of yards the team has posted, even finishing with this season's 11th-ranked offense - the Cowboys have ranked no lower than this 11th in four of Garrett's five years as offensive coordinator, including second in 2009 and third in 2007 - the running game has been spotty.

Especially when it comes to rushing touchdowns.

Yeah, I know, I sound like a broken record, but my goodness, that has to improve if this team is to improve. Come on, five rushing touchdowns? Five, breaking the team's single-season low of six first established in the franchise's first two seasons of existence and then matched again in the 6-10 season of 1997?

Man, 20 running backs in the NFL this season totaled more rushing touchdowns by themselves than the Cowboys did as a team. And to think three of those five rushing touchdowns were all just one-yard runs (one, a QB sneak by Romo) and one was a six-yard run by Phillip Tanner.

That means the only touchdown run the Cowboys had of more than six yards was DeMarco Murray's 91-yarder. Seriously?

That's just not going to get it, especially if you consider the best record a Cowboys team has constructed the 10 times in club history they have rushed for no more than 10 touchdowns is .500, 8-8 this year and 7-7 way back in 1965. The other eight times they have failed to win more than six games, including the 2010, 6-10 season when they finished with 10 rushing touchdowns, still a paltry sum but twice as many as this season.

See a correlation?

So yeah, great that Callahan is the offensive line coach, offensive coordinator, run-game coordinator, whatever you prefer, but his biggest influence needs to be on the running game, whether it's structure, play design, blocking schemes or simply quality of offensive line play. His Raider offenses sure were effective running the football, and running backs coach Skip Peete was also with him back then.

Coordinating pass-protection also falls under his jurisdiction, and goodness knows the Cowboys must improve on that, too, giving up 39 sacks, and who knows how many more there would have been if not for Romo's ability to move out of harm's way. Seventeen teams gave up fewer sacks than the Cowboys, and when it came to sacks per pass play, the Cowboys tied for 17th.

Certainly the Cowboys paid a heavy price this season for retooling an offensive line in bad need of retooling.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.