Callahan set to call play for Cowboys

IRVING, Texas — Bill Callahan is replacing coach Jason Garrett as the play-caller for the Dallas Cowboys.

So said owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday. Even Callahan himself confirmed it.

All of which served only to get Garrett to dig in a little deeper in his refusal to publicly acknowledge a change in the role he’s had since Jones hired him as offensive coordinator in 2007.

“There is no real advantage for us to reveal who’s calling the plays explicitly, and how we’re going to do it, in early June,” Garrett said. “It’s just the way I feel about it. We have a plan in place. We’ve had a plan in place for a long, long time. I don’t want to get into that plan much further than I already have.”

Garrett kept play-calling duties when he replaced head coach Wade Phillips halfway through the 2010 season. Jones wanted Phillips to be the defensive play-caller when he hired him, and he wanted the same for Garrett on the offensive side.

But Jones dropped the first hint during Senior Bowl practices in January that a change was in the works. He even specifically mentioned Callahan, who called plays for the Oakland Raiders as offensive coordinator and head coach from 1998 to 2003.

Callahan, who is offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, has consistently deferred to Garrett when the topic came up this offseason, but finally relented when told that Jones had said the decision to let Callahan call plays was made weeks ago. Callahan looked to be the one calling plays during offseason workouts, and Jones said anyone “looking at practice … can get a pretty good idea of how it’s going there.”

“It’s a real honor and a great responsibility,” Callahan said. “I’m flattered to be part of this and take on the additional responsibilities of calling the plays in the course of the game.”

Garrett has faced the question of whether he would give up play-calling duties because of poor game management decisions in several losses the past two seasons. The Cowboys finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs both times.

Callahan’s offense had a rough season in his debut with the Raiders, but finished no worse than eighth in points and yards per attempt each of the next four years. Callahan also spent four years as head coach at Nebraska.

“I think he’s an outstanding coach with the kind of experience that I really think is good for us right now,” Jones said. “The fact that he has been head coach, college, as well as in the NFL, you bring all of that to bear.”

Garrett said his refusal to announce the change had nothing to do with whether he agreed with it.

“I’m completely on board with all decisions we make,” Garrett said. “We make collective decisions in this organization. We always have and we always will.”

While playfully acknowledging that he wasn’t thrilled with his owner revealing the play-calling decision, Garrett said his relationship with Jones has never been better.

“He’s an outstanding owner because he cares a great deal about this football team and making the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys great,” Garrett said. “When you’re in an environment like that, working for a guy like that, the pedal is down and that’s a good thing. The pedal is down for all of us.”

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