It was probably overdue, but now’s the time for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to take back offensive play-calling duties.
For most Dallas Cowboys’ fans, Jason Garrett has lasted far too long as head coach. But he’s also the perfect coach for an owner like Jerry Jones, with just enough success (.566 regular season winning percentage, three division titles, two playoff wins) to stave off being fired.
On Monday last week, Garrett said he didn’t foresee any coaching staff changes. On Friday, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was gone via what was formally called a mutual decision. But Dallas’ offense was always less than the sum of its parts over Linehan’s five seasons calling plays. This season, despite having Ezekiel Elliott in place all season (as he led the league in rushing) and the difference wide receiver Amari Cooper made after being acquired from the Oakland Raiders, the Cowboys were just 22nd in total offense, 22nd in scoring offense and 10th in rushing offense.
In the wake of Linehan’s dismissal, quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore is a candidate to become Dallas’ offensive coordinator with Jon Kitna stepping in as the new quarterbacks coach. Linehan’s departure also opens up play-calling duties, and all signs point to Garrett as the guy to take over.
As ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited, Garrett has not called plays since the middle of the 2013 season. But he does have an offensive acumen, as he was promoted to head coach after serving as offensive coordinator for the Cowboys for three-plus seasons. Prior to that, he was quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins for two seasons (2005-2006).
Though he is reportedly in line for a contract extension, Garrett is heading into the final year of his contract as it sits right now. Even if a new deal is in place, it’s safe to say Jones won’t hesitate to make a coaching change if the Cowboys underachieve next year.
The conference title games this year had Sean McVay, Sean Payton and Andy Reid as the head coach/play-callers for three of the league’s best offenses, so the arrangement can work at a high level.
Sometimes a head coach can be a little hands-off with the side of the ball his resume was built on, but it’s clearly on Garrett to raise the level of the Cowboys’ offense in 2019. He can’t be expected to replicate the success of McVay, Payton and Reid, but taking back play-calling duties would be a sign Garrett is ready to embrace the pressure and control his fate.