When Bill Callahan was introduced as the play caller for the Dallas Cowboys, I was a bit confused. He has always been more of a run-heavy West-Coast Offense coordinator, a sharp contrast from the Cowboy's Air Coryell offense and vertical passing game. Obviously, it doesn't add up.
In fact, The Cowboys strength is certainly the vertical passing game. Few teams have the kind of Field Stretchers that Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Terrence Williams are. Furthermore, Dallas will be amongst the best at attacking the Seams with slot threats like Dwayne Harris, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, and Jason Witten. So why is Callahan calling the plays? Why is a West Coast coordinator running a vertical offense?
My answer is Tony Romo. Romo is under contract through age 39, and will certainly be expected to play at high level despite his age. However, older Quarterbacks typically lose arm strength and durability with age. As a result, West Coast offenses are perfect for older quarterbacks. The shorter, non-vertical, and run-after-catch passing concepts can allow success with weaker armed QBs. Additionally, the stress on getting the ball out quickly limits the hits a QB takes. Furthermore, the focus on running the football forces blitzers to hesitate and makes Cover men to bite at play action. Across the NFL, GMs and Coaches have taken notice. They are pairing their older QBs with more-West Coast type offenses. The perfect examples are Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. All three legends have lost significant arm strength over the past couple of years. To deal with this, The Saints, Patriots, and Broncos now feature precision passing games that stress short drops and quick routes to complement a focus on running the ball. And what's more, all three teams are committed to their QBs into their late 30s and possibly early 40s.
This leads me to believe that Callahan was given play-calling duties primarily to lengthen Tony Romo's career. As Romo ages, his arm will weaken, he will lose durability, and the Air-Coryell will become that much less feasable. In the West Coast system, he will take less hits, have to pass less, and will be able to get the ball out quicker (In fact this might be able to play to his strengths, as Romo has one of the quickest releases and shortest throwing motions in the NFL). Thus, I firmly believe that Callahan and the West Coast offense can add years onto Romo's career, and extend the figurative championship window.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Share your opinions below!