It’s always important to preface all discussions in August with the one constant in the NFL: you can’t take too much from preseason games. However, these exhibitions give us the first glimpse of what each team might look like in the regular season, so let the speculation begin regarding the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense, which already looks very different from what we saw in 2012. You can credit that to new play-caller Bill Callahan.
Cowboys fans everywhere should rejoice after three preseason games because Dallas’ offense is flowing smoothly with intelligent play-calling by one of the game’s best over the past decade. The Cowboys’ offense has been much more dynamic this preseason than it was last year with Jason Garrett calling the plays, and that includes more than just more of big plays from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant.
Against the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys ran more to the perimeter than they did during the regular season in 2012, and it has worked thus far. Callahan is clearly using the incredible speed of guys like Lance Dunbar on plays that exploit their strengths and tweaking his decisions based on what he sees from opposing defenses. That’s something that Garrett definitely didn’t do during his time as play-caller.
On the same note, Callahan is using his speedy backs out of the backfield on screen plays that aren’t blatantly obvious. In the past, many of the Cowboys’ screen passes were expected and almost telegraphed like a pass from an inexperienced quarterback, which resulted in minimal yardage. The Dolphins, Raiders and Cardinals didn’t look like they knew what the Cowboys were going to do before they did it, so Romo wasn’t forced to overcome inadequate play-calling, which led to explosive plays by Dallas’ first-team offense.
Again, it’s only the preseason and this is just a very small taste of the difference between Callahan and Garrett as play-callers, but it’s also easy to see the former is much better at it and that will likely keep Romo and the Cowboys’ offense from playing at a disadvantage this season.