In almost every situation, an NFL head coach should be completely
informed and have input on all three phases of the game with his
The Cowboys' situation with Jason Garrett, an odd feud about
playcalling that hasn't actually changed anything other than the level
of pressure and awkwardness that Garrett's dealt with, underlines
something I believe in.
I believe that Garrett should have the ability to determine whether he
It's more awkward for a defensive minded coach to call plays, since
it's more reactive, but a head coach is a head coach. His team. I
don't like Jerry Jones' media feud with his head coach. Of course, the
fun irony is that his insistence on hiring Garrett as a man-in-waiting
took Norv Turner (beloved in that building) off the table for the Dallas
It moved Wade Phillips over from San Diego, a move that cascaded into
Norv to SD along with a ton of current Panthers coaches and the ones
that just left to go be with Norv in Cleveland. It gave Ron Rivera the
coordinator job that prompted Carolina to hire him. So Jones' odd
insistence of forcing a coordinator on a new head coach, caused problems
for that head coach and cast a long shadow on other parts of the league.
For a coordinator he promoted and now wants to fire.
There was a leigitmate feeling that Jones wanted to hire Turner this
time as OC; Garrett definitely wouldn't have wanted that. There hasn't
been any real change; Bill Callahan might or might not take on more,
Tony Romo might or might not call more at the line.
But, all that said, my preference is that a head coach not call plays.
I have no doubt, for instance, that if you were to pluck a Jon Gruden
and pay big for a head coach, that Gruden's a better playcaller than
who's under him. But it's just a lot to do both in my opinion. Both
hats are tough to wear, and both together? You only have one head.
The West Coast Offense has a good model for that, to a point; the head
coach probably calls the plays in that system (it's been a while since I
can remember a newly hired defensive head coach that installed the West
Coast), the OC runs the offense administratively, and the QBs coach
helps gameplan. You have to have good coaches in those roles either
way, but egos have to be in check. There's also some remedy in
pre-scripting plays, which can get you through a quarter of the game,
but you have to be able to process the outcome, too.
In the end, as a head coach and coordinator, you have to be able to
think ahead while the play's happening. Can you really process mid-play
for both the next play and understand what's happening in the current
play? And if so, is it still value added to do so when others can?
You may have to choose between what's best for your O, or best for your
team. Is that a choice you should have to make?