Has Bill Callahan earned a promotion?

January, 14, 2013
1/14/13
9:05
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones said he wanted to make things uncomfortable at Valley Ranch and two-plus weeks into the offseason the Cowboys owner and general manager has done just that.

Last week, it was largely the defensive side of the ball that felt discomfort. This week it could be the offensive side of the ball.

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We’ve debated the merits of who becomes the play caller in 2013 from Jason Garrett to Norv Turner to Bill Callahan.

Over the weekend, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Jones is pushing for Garrett to give up the duties. Well, Turner is apparently off to Cleveland, which leaves Callahan.

In the last couple of weeks our own Jacques Taylor and Tim MacMahon have pumped up the move for Callahan to call plays in 2013. They cited Callahan’s work as Oakland’s playcaller when the Raiders made their last run to a Super Bowl. Of course, that came in 2002 and it was a completely different offensive system.

But I’ve made that point already.

I’ll make another point: What did Callahan do so well in 2012 for the Cowboys that he deserves to get a promotion and call the plays in 2013?

Wasn’t the offensive line the weakest part of the team? Wasn’t the lack of a running game a killer? And wasn’t Callahan the guy responsible for the running game?

There were some injuries. The Cowboys started three different centers in Phil Costa, Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Tyron Smith missed a game with an ankle injury. Nate Livings was banged up but didn’t miss a game. DeMarco Murray missed six games with a foot sprain.

But if injuries weren’t an excuse for Rob Ryan, they can’t be for Callahan either.

Did Smith play as well at left tackle as he did at right tackle as a rookie? Not in my view. Right tackle Doug Free was a mess only until he had to start splitting time with Jermey Parnell the last month of the season. Surely Callahan had some say in the decisions to sign Livings and Bernadeau in free agency.

Let’s say Callahan becomes the playcaller, do the Cowboys have to find another offensive line coach? If not, can an O-line coach and coordinator handle all he has to handle between series and work the adjustments with the line? Several people at Valley Ranch believe Wes Phillips, the assistant line coach, has a bright future. Is he ready for more responsibility?

Maybe naming Callahan the new play caller works out in 2013, but it doesn’t answer many immediate questions. In fact, it might just lead to more.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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