Bill Callahan, the Cowboys’ new offensive line coach, has been around plenty of powerful offenses and offensive lines.
He was the head coach for the Oakland Raiders team that reached the Super Bowl in 2003 behind Rich Gannon and the league’s top passing offense. Two years earlier, with him as offensive coordinator, the Raiders led the league in rushing behind Pro Bowl guards Steve Wisniewski and Lincoln Kennedy.
He was the offensive line coach for head coach Ray Rhodes and offensive coordinator Jon Gruden for three years in Philadelphia, from 1995 to ’97, when the Eagles were one of the top-five offensive teams in the NFL with quarterbacks Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete and running back Ricky Watters.
In college at Wisconsin, Callahan was the offensive line coach for the 1993 Rose Bowl championship team that had a 1,600-yard rusher and a 900-yard rusher. At Nebraska, his teams used the West Coast offense and set many of the school’s passing records.
Most recently, Callahan was the offensive line coach and assistant head coach with the New York Jets. In his first year with the Jets, 2008, he helped develop rookie center Nick Mangold into a Pro Bowl player, along with veteran guard Alan Faneca and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
The Cowboys hope to tap into that experience as an offensive line builder when Callahan, 55, takes over as the replacement for the retired Hudson Houck.
The Cowboys will go into 2012 with the reshaping of the offensive line as a major priority. Last year’s No. 1 pick, Tyron Smith, will be considered for a move from right tackle to left tackle. Veteran right guard Kyle Kosier, who rarely had a full practice week because of foot problems, might not return. Veteran left guard Montrae Holland will try to recover from biceps surgery. And left tackle Doug Free had a poor year in his first season at the position.
The Cowboys hope Callahan can shape the development of young players such as backup guard Kevin Kowalski, fourth-round pick David Arkin (a guard who wasn't active for any game last year) and center Phil Costa, who played all 16 games last year but showed he has a long way to go at the position.
Callahan does not have much of a tie to the Cowboys or head coach Jason Garrett.
But defensive end Kenyon Coleman played for Callahan in 2002 with the Raiders. Callahan has worked under Rex Ryan, the brother of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson played for Callahan in 1998 when he was offensive coordinator for the Raiders. And Callahan coached Rodney Peete, the brother of Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete, with the Raiders in 2001.
-- Carlos Mendez