Tag Archives: Norv Turner

PROS AND CONS: Norv Turner vs. Bill Callahan as Dallas Cowboys offensive play caller

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett calls plays from the sideline - The Boys Are Back blog

Whether Jason Garrett likes it or not, someone else could be calling plays for the Cowboys next season.

The Tim MacMahon Position – Norv Turner isn’t the solution:

That’s perfectly logical, considering the Dallas Cowboys have been consistently mediocre as a scoring offense during Garrett’s tenure as the play-caller. The Cowboys ranked 15th in scoring offense this season, the fourth time in five years they fell between 14th and 18th.

Really, Jerry Jones is late to realize that Garrett could probably be a better head coach if he delegated play-calling duties. At least Jerry seems to be getting over his silly notion that a “walkaround” head coach can’t win, which always seemed bizarre considering the head coaches who hoisted Lombardi Trophies during his tenure didn’t call plays.

This should all be considered encouraging, as long as Jerry doesn’t try to recruit Norv Turner to Valley Ranch.

This is probably a moot point anyway — with Turner indicating to the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this week that he didn’t see the Cowboys as a fit for his next stop — but adding the architect of the Dallas dynasty’s offense would simply increase the dysfunction.

With all due respect to Turner’s offensive genius (just don’t look at this season’s Chargers for evidence of it), it’d do Garrett absolutely no good to have an assistant coach on his staff could be perceived as his superior.

It’d be a challenge for Garrett to maintain his authority in the locker room if he’s stripped of his play-calling duties after making a stand on the subject during his Monday end-of-season press conference. Jerry hasn’t helped by continually claiming that a head coach needs to call plays to earn that authority in the locker room, only to suddenly consider reversing field on the issue after the Cowboys’ second consecutive 8-8 season.

However, it’s very much a manageable situation if Garrett gives that responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, a proven play-caller already on staff. In fact, that should have happened when Callahan, who called plays for an explosive offense on a Super Bowl team in Oakland, was hired last offseason.

The addition of Turner could essentially strip Garrett of some of his authority in the locker room. It’d be human nature for players to perceive Turner, who almost was hired to be Garrett’s boss in 2007 before Wade Phillips got the gig, to be at least Garrett’s equal and his probable replacement if the season didn’t go as planned. That’d be a problem.

How awkward would it be for Garrett to have a mentor of his reporting to him?

The speculation about Turner’s return to Valley Ranch conjures up wonderful memories of the Cowboys’ dynasty days. But that’s the past. Adding Turner to this staff would simply add to Garrett’s pile of problems in the present.

The Todd Archer Position – Not sure Bill Callahan is answer either:

Tim MacMahon made the case for Bill Callahan to become the Cowboys’ next playcaller, not Norv Turner.

He cited Callahan’s work as the playcaller when Oakland made it to the Super Bowl when he was the Raiders head coach, except there would be a huge difference between running that offense and this offense.

The scheme.

Callahan’s offense was a West-Coast scheme, shorter, timing routes and a different philosophy. The Cowboys’ offense is based on the Don Coryell system and a number tree with a more intermediate and vertical passing game.

Callahan has been with the Cowboys for a season, but clearly he was the coordinator in name only. He was not involved much in the passing game. Despite the title, he was the running game coordinator. He would be in Jason Garrett’s ear with different run plays.

This isn’t to say Callahan can’t call the plays. It’s that this would not be an offense in which he is completely familiar and the Cowboys are not going to become a West Coast offense.

If there’s one thing we’ve seen with a Garrett offense, it’s that they can pile up yards. They just don’t score enough points.

If the Cowboys want to look at ways to improve their point totals, steal from teams like New England, New Orleans and Green Bay.

That’s another story for another time this offseason.

But for this story, I don’t think Callahan is the answer either.

TBAB editors Position – If not Norv Turner or Bill Callahan, then who?

When Jerry Jones brought out the “Change is necessary” card on his show this Wednesday, the national and local media went berserk! Remember, if Jones has had a change of heart regarding a walk-around coach, he has NOT said so. People, including myself, are reading between the lines.

It’s natural to associate Norv Turner … he’s recently available, he’s well versed in all aspects, and he’s the inspiration for Jason Garrett’s version of the Don Coryell system.

It’s logical to associate Bill Callahan … he’s on staff, he’s versed on the running side of this system, and he is capable of implementing Jason Garrett passing philosophy (and terminology).

If neither of them are the solution, then who is?

Jerry Jones implied that the playoffs need to run their course before any final decisions (or meetings) are made. If you take a hint from that part of the statement, then we can assume he’s looking at options regarding one of the playoff contending assistant coaches or offensive coordinators.

Ideally, you’d want a young, innovative thinker, and someone that could maximize the potential of the current roster’s skillset. Maybe more planned rollouts, more misdirection, more play-action. Romo excels in this mode, in controlled situations. Someone that focuses solely on the offensive flow of the game. Someone that will keep the offensive balance in place. For example, if Murray is averaging 5 yards per carry … don’t run him 11 times during the game. If he’s hot … keep going to that well. Same with the wide receivers.

Personally, I believe the Jason Garrett offense is everything it needs to be between the twenties. This offense produces significant yardage with the arm of Tony Romo. The real issue is the scoring side of the equation … success in the red-zone. That concern can be greatly influenced with a better-suited offensive line and running. The evolution of the Coryell-Zampese-Turner- Garrett system brings multiple threats for scoring … tight ends, short-to-intermediate passes to the backs, and is heightened by Dallas talented wide receivers (a luxury Don Coryell didn’t always have).

To summarize. If Jerry Jones, wearing his general manager hat, brings the beef (offensive line) and a Murray compatible (or even change of pace) running back to the party … this could all be moot.

Remember this. No matter what happens on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has to do it’s part. Does no good to give up a touchdown for every touchdown scored! 

BLACK MONDAY RECAP: NFL teams cleaning house in hopes of brighter futures

Lovie Smith - Chicago Bears head coach (2004-12) - The Boys Are Back blog

Black Monday has arrived, and it has brought a lot of change and bad news for many coaches and general managers around the NFL.

Andy Reid - Philadelphia Eagles head coach (1999-2012) - The Boys Are Back blog

We’ll have all the big moves covered, and this post will be a one-stop shop for all the latest news.

Norv Turner - San Diego Chargers head coach (2007-12) - The Boys Are Back blog

Here’s what we right know:


Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves are out.

Buffalo Bills: Coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons that went nowhere in Buffalo. The defense and quarterback play never improved. It’s unclear if general manager Buddy Nix will remain.

Chicago Bears: In the first mild surprise of the day, coach Lovie Smith was fired after three playoff appearances in nine years. General manager Phil Emery took the job last year and will hire his own man.

Cleveland Browns: The team announced Monday morning that coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are both out. They never had much of a chance once new owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team.

Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt announced the team has parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel. The team said it has not made a final decision about GM Scott Pioli’s status.

Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie confirmed Monday morning that coach Andy Reid is out after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The Eagles won’t waste any time starting a coaching search.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers announced both coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have been let go. Ron Wolf has been brought in as a consultant to help search for the next leadership group.

Up in the air

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera has struggled to win close games during his tenure and isn’t a natural in game management. A four-game winning streak to end the season could save his job. The Panthers will hire a new GM.

Chances of a change: Strong. The next GM will decide Rivera’s fate.

Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew pulled off one of the best rebuilding efforts of all time after taking over the 0-16 Lions. And then the bottom fell out for a talented roster this year.

Chances of a change: Growing. Multiple outlets said earlier in the week that Schwartz was safe, but Lions ownership is disturbed with the team’s culture, it could make a change. Schwartz is signed through 2015.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Mularkey was hired just last year, but his boss, GM Gene Smith, was fired Monday morning. Mularkey wasn’t able to develop young quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Chances of a change: Good. Mularkey told players in a team meeting that he’s still the head coach after talking with the owner Thursday and Monday. Mularkey’s fate ultimately will be decided by the next GM. Mularkey will have to wait and see.


Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones intimated throughout the process that he hasn’t even thought about changing head coaches. NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer first reported that coach Jason Garrett was safe two weeks ago. Garrett could be asked to hire an offensive coordinator that calls plays.

New York Jets: The Jets announced that GM Mike Tannenbaum was let go Monday morning. But they also announced Rex Ryan will stay on as coach. It’s an awkward arrangement for whomever the Jets hire to run the personnel department.

Tennessee Titans: The Tennessean reported Monday that coach Mike Munchak will keep his job despite a 6-10 record. Personnel executive Mike Reinfeldt is out, though.

CO-PRO PRACTICES: Jason Garrett said Dallas Cowboys benefit from shared drills with San Diego

Norv Turner San Diego Chargers and Jason Garrett Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

Despite watching three receivers, including starter Dez Bryant, leave the practice field with varying injuries in today’s joint practice with the Chargers in San Diego, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he likes what the team accomplished in the session. The teams work together again Tuesday before the Cowboys return to Texas.

Bryant (right knee) and Donavan Kemp (left knee) both left the practice with knee ailments and were scheduled to undergo MRIs. Andre Holmes departed after his back stiffened during drills.

Garrett cited a “similar value system” between the two franchises that enables Dallas and San Diego to benefit from the shared practice with a minimum of chippiness during drills.

“We as coaches try every day to create competitive situations for our guys. Whether it’s one-on-one, two-on-two, seven-on-seven or 11-on-11,” Garrett said. “We’re always trying to do that and that’s an important part of growing as an individual player and as a team. That happens really naturally when you’re working against other teams.

“We have a real similar value system, the Cowboys and the Chargers. I’ve been around (Chargers coach) Norv (Turner) for a number of years … We both know what we want out of these practices. We had great work with them last year. We were dying to do this again this year because the work was so good against them last year (in Dallas). We practice hard. We compete. We’re not going to have a lot of fights. We understand what we’re trying to get out of it. Throughout the practice, the 1-on-1’s, they were competitive, but I think everybody understood there was a healthy respect for each other. Tomorrow’s going to be a little more situational. We’re going to move the ball a little bit. We’re going to have some two-minute, do a little red zone. We’ll have some more competitive situations but the tempo’s right. I think both teams are getting a lot out of it.”

Jimmy Burch

SELF-EVALUATION: Jason Garrett’s toughest critic is Jason Garrett

Former Dallas OC Norv Turner and current Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - The Boys Are Back blog

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Despite missing the playoffs in 2011, Jason Garrett has been credited for taking over a 1-7 Cowboys team in the middle of the 2010 season and making them competitive again over the last 18 months.

He also has been subject to criticism for certain in-game decisions, whether it’s a failed play call or a clock management issue like in the Cowboys’ Dec. 4 loss to the Cardinals.

The weekly, sometimes daily, contrast of praise and disapproval is part of the job, particularly when you’re the face of the most visible franchise in sports. And that’s OK with Garrett, because he’s his toughest critic.

"I can give you 10 things out of every game this year that (I said), ‘That wasn’t very good. That was better. I kind of liked that. I didn’t like that decision. I can’t believe we set it up that way. I can’t believe I made that decision.’ All of that," Garrett said.

"When you make a lot of decisions in the position I’m in, trust me, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. The biggest thing I try to do is be critical in the self-evaluation of myself, of our staff, how we’re doing things and make the adjustments — take the emotion out of it and just be really objective as best you can when you’re evaluating yourself and our staff. One of the things we try to do with our staff is we put guys together who are not yes men, guys who will hopefully tell me that wasn’t very good. So hopefully we can be better, and that’s our objective."

Entering his second full season as a head coach, Garrett clearly wants to improve as a play-caller and a game manager. One of his mentors, Chargers head coach Norv Turner, is impressed with the job he’s done so far.

“He’s obviously one of the brightest guys I’ve been around as a player," said Turner, the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator in the early ’90s when Garrett was a backup to Troy Aikman. "I haven’t gotten the opportunity to coach with him but I know what he’s done as a coach and certainly the people he’s been with through his coaching career. It takes someone to give you the opportunity and they’ve given him the opportunity there.

"I think he knows you have to get good people around you, which he’s done. And they’re trying to get the best players they can, because that’ll help make you a real good coach.”

%d bloggers like this: