Scheme changes for the Cowboys

What to expect on both sides of the ball in Dallas in 2013

Originally Published: June 12, 2013
By Gary Horton | ESPN Insider

AP Photo/James D SmithQuarterback Tony Romo will now be taking play calls from Bill Callahan, left, instead of Jason Garrett.

The Dallas Cowboys are used to having plenty of headlines coming out of Valley Ranch. Owner Jerry Jones demands excellence, and Tony Romo's big contract extension this offseason brings even higher expectations. The past few disappointing seasons have also led to a perceived short leash for coach Jason Garrett.

However, among all the perceived turmoil and storylines, there are some real scheme and philosophical changes on both sides of the ball -- especially defense. After studying the film, here's what I expect to see from a systematical standpoint in 2013.


Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan takes over play-calling duties for Garrett, signaling a philosophical change, and it will manifest itself mostly in the run game. Dallas had its fewest rushing attempts ever in 2012, partly as a result of injuries at running back and the offensive line, and partly as a result of marginal blocking by the guys up front. Callahan is a proponent of a physical run game that can give this offense much-needed balance and take some pressure off Romo to not become "pass-happy" every week.

Last season, they had too many third-and-long situations, and they played a lot from behind because of their inability to run the ball effectively on first and second down. That allowed defenses to attack in an all-out pass-rush mode.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.