If you were going to use one word to describe the Dallas Cowboys during the last 12 months, cohesive would not be a very good choice. Dysfunctional is a much better option. Nothing conveys that fact more than the Cowboys' inability to settle on who would call the offensive plays.
Heading into offseason workouts, owner Jerry Jones announced offensive coordinator Bill Callahan would take over the play-calling duties from head coach Jason Garrett. While the process leading up to the decision was a bit odd, at least it was settled. Except it wasn't. Garrett essentially handled the offensive coordinator duties, with Dallas changing the play-calling structure in Week 12 with quarterback coach Wade Wilson joining Callahan in the booth and Garrett relaying the calls to the quarterback.
"That wasn't the plan," Jones said at the combine on Sunday, via the Dallas Morning News. "Going into training camp, going into [organized team activities], going into that period of the time, the plan was for Bill to ultimately be the play-caller with Romo executing it."
While most teams are worried about executing the plays on the field, the Cowboys spent nearly an entire season trying to work out simply getting the plays called. The process was again revamped this offseason with Garrett staying on as head coach, Callahan remaining offensive coordinator and Scott Linehan joining the staff as passing game coordinator and play-caller.
Only time will tell if the latest structure will be successful, but for Garrett's sake he better hope it is. The coach is entering the final year on his contract. That lame duck status could be an detriment to some, but not Garrett, at least according to Jones.
"I have seen people work just as strong or stronger without knowing where the future is," Jones said, via the San Antonio Express-News. "He has a high tolerance for ambiguity. That is very important in this situation."
A high tolerance for ambiguity isn't a trait most list on their resume, but it's probably an excellent one to have as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. With Jones in charge, there is always going to be a certain level of uncertainty around the organization. Garrett has gone from successful play-caller for five years to fighting to retain those duties last year to now focusing on the defense, according to Jones.
"He will have a lot more time spent on defense than he will on offense," Jones said. "We want his input on defense."
It appears that tolerance for ambiguity will be useful again next season. Football coaches are often some of the most detail-oriented people on the planet. They spend countless hours game-planning fine details. They loathe uncertainty, but in Dallas, it's part of the job. Jones calls the shots, from who will call the plays to who the team drafts and signs. He's the owner, he's the general manager and is involved in every part of the organization.
It remains to be seen if his latest moves will be enough to get the Cowboys to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
More highlights from Jones' press conference
-- On paper, the Cowboys have a lot of ground to make up on the top teams in the NFL and not much flexibility to do it. That didn't prevent Jones from already talking Super Bowl. "Even though we have cap problems this year," Jones said via ESPN. "We have chance to compete for a Super Bowl."
-- Jones admitted to crying three times following games, the last being Dallas' loss to the Giants in the 2007 Divisional round. He also cried after Dallas lost to San Francisco in the 1995 NFC Championship and when the expansion Houston Texans beat the Cowboys in the 2002 season opener.
-- Dallas demoted defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and promoted defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Jones summed up the moves in only the way he can: "It's more of a case of not less Monte, but more Rod."