Category Archives: Hudson Houck – OL

Bill Callahan might call the plays in Dallas one day but not now

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan

The names have changed, as has the title, but the role remains the same. Bill Callahan has replaced Hudson Houck as the Cowboys’ offensive line coach. He also arrived with the title of offensive coordinator, but he will have basically the same role that Houck did last season.

Callahan will be the running-game coordinator, and tight ends coach John Garrett will continue to coordinate the passing game.

Jason Garrett said Thursday he could envision a day when he doesn’t call the plays, but for now, he wants to retain the chemistry he has with quarterback Tony Romo. Romo had a career-high 102.5 passer rating, while passing for 4,184 yards and 31 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

"Our quarterback played awfully well this year, had probably the best year of his career. so there’s a comfort level that we’ll want to make sure we maintain in that area," Garrett said. "..We had a couple of bumps at different stages of the season, but at the end of the day, you say, ‘Boy, he had an outstanding year,’ and we want to continue that development, continue his growth in this system and make sure that he and the other guys who have been around here have a certain comfort level with what we’ve been doing.

"When you get a chance to add a guy like Bill Callahan it’s a really, really positive thing for you. so we’ll keep going down the road that we have, and hopefully at some point, there’s a comfort level that we’ll turn it over to somebody else."

Callahan was the offensive line coach for the strong offensive teams of the Philadelphia Eagles in the mid-1990s. He was the offensive line coach for the 2000 Raiders who led the NFL in rushing and the the head coach for the 2002 Raiders who reached the Super Bowl behind the league’s top passing offense.

Callahan has called plays. He can call them again, he said. But he’ll do whatever he can to help Garrett.

“Anything that I can do to lighten the load on Jason, we’ve talked about that,” Callahan said. “And I’ve indicated that to him in so many ways. Anything that I can do, game day, during the week, at practice, with the unit, to take any type of load off of him, I’m there for him. I want to be able to serve the head coach.”

COACHING SHAKE UP: Hudson Houck expected to be replaced by Bill Callahan

With the contracts of six coaches expiring after the season, staff changes are definitely expected.

And it appears one of the biggest could be on the offensive line, where longtime coach Hudson Houck is reportedly not returning to the club in 2012. Houck, who has 28 years of NFL coaching experience, including two different stints with the Cowboys, could be headed for retirement.

While most of the coaches were off this week at the complex, Houck was spotted at Valley Ranch on Monday with a box full of his belongings.

Along with his offensive line coaching duties, Houck has also served as the running game coordinator for the last two years.

The one name that has suddenly surfaced to replace Houck is former Raiders and University of Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan. A team source said Callahan recently turned down a similar offer to remain on the New York Jets’ coaching staff. Since he left Nebraska’s sideline in 2007 after five seasons, Callahan joined the Jets and has been coaching the offensive line and assistant head coach since 2008.

Houck has coached the Cowboys’ line for 13 years, including a nine-year stint from 1993-2001 where he helped the team win two Super Bowls. Houck left in 2002 where he coached the Chargers for three seasons and then three more in Miami, where he was on staff with Jason Garrett, who coached the quarterbacks from 2005-06.

When Tony Sparano left the Cowboys’ staff to become the Dolphins’ head coach, Houck returned to Dallas on Wade Phillips’ staff.

Houck was one of six assistant coaches with expiring contracts, along with assistant offensive line coach Wes Phillips, assistant receivers coach Keith O’Quinn, running backs coach Skip Peete and secondary coaches Brett Maxie and Dave Campo. It was also reported earlier this week that Campo would not be returning to the Cowboys’ staff in 2012.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Dallas Cowboys looking to plug exposed middle of offensive line by utilizing all of their offensive tools

IRVING — It happened in an instant. During the second quarter of the New York Giants’ 41-35 victory over Dallas in October 2010, linebacker Michael Boley flashed through a gap and slammed Tony Romo to the turf, fracturing the Cowboys quarterback’s left collarbone.

The impact of Boley’s devastating hit reverberated the rest of the season because Romo would never take another snap after being injured.

More than a year later, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked to reflect on the collision that rocked the Cowboys’ universe in 2010.

"That’s a long time ago," Garrett said Friday. "That’s really not part of our concern right now."

Boley’s hit may no longer be on the Cowboys’ minds but what caused it to happen – poor pass protection – is.

"That’s one of the things we have to work on," said Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck.

Last week, in Dallas’ 19-13 overtime loss to Arizona, the Cardinals were able to create sustained pressure by attacking the interior of the Cowboys’ line – just like Boley did when he blitzed up the middle a season ago.

Against Arizona, the Cowboys conceded five sacks – two of which were surrendered by center Phil Costa and right guard Kyle Kosier. The Cowboys are under the assumption the Giants, who have recorded 33 sacks, will copy the Cardinals’ plan.

"Whatever they throw at us, we’ve got to deal with it," left guard Montrae Holland said. "But we’re trying to solidify the middle."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo working with a young, but improving, offensive line in 2011.

Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo working with a young, but improving, offensive line in 2011.


The Fiammetta Factor:

The numbers don’t lie.

Running back DeMarco Murray rushed for a team record 601 yards in four games with fullback Tony Fiammetta leading the way.

With Fiammetta out the past three games with an illness, Murray has tallied 198 yards.

It goes without saying that Murray is excited to have Fiammetta back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

“He’s a hard working guy,” Murray said. “He does all the dirty work for me. I am very excited to have him back. I definitely I knew I wasn’t going to go for a 150 every game. I understand that. You are going to have ups and downs. You got to continue to get better, it’s all about the next game. But I’m feeling good about this week.”

Beginning this weekend, we’ll see how the Fiammetta Factor effects both DeMarco Murray and running back Felix Jones.

Continue reading →

DALLAS COWBOYS HUDSON HOUCK: Tyron Smith has Larry Allen-type talent

Dallas Cowboys 2011 first round draft pick Tyron Smith

Dallas Cowboys 2011 first round NFL Draft pick Tyron Smith

IRVING, TexasTyron Smith has as much talent as any rookie offensive lineman that Hudson Houck can remember.

“Now Larry Allen had a lot of talent, so we’re talking about some pretty high standards here,” said Houck, a 29-year NFL coaching veteran. “He has a tremendous amount of talent and I think what is mostly important with him, he really wants to be good. After every practice, it’s, ‘Coach, will you help me on this?’ He wants extra work after every, single, practice.

“This guy is going to be eventually a very good football player.”

Eventually? Houck might actually be underselling the first-round pick’s performance to this point.

According to’s grading system, the 20-year-old Smith has been the fourth-best tackle in the NFL this season. Tennessee’s Michael Roos, Philadelphia’s Jason Peters and Green Bay’s Bryan Bulaga are the only tackles the website, which analyzes every snap, has graded higher.

Houck, however, sees a kid who has hardly scratched the surface of his potential. In his eyes, Smith is good now. Houck can’t wait to see Smith after he adds 10 to 12 pounds in Mike Woicik’s offseason program and continues to learn the nuances of playing tackle in the NFL.

The immediate concern is making sure that Smith doesn’t hit a rookie wall. Houck isn’t worried about the physical toll, but he’s curious to see how Smith handles the challenge of the mental grind.

“Consistency is the important thing,” Houck said. “It’s a long season. We’ll see how it goes at the end of the season. This is tough on these young kids, now. Right now, he’d be getting ready for finals or whatever.”

At the very least, Smith aced his first NFL mid-term.


Dallas Cowboys offensive line wins Madden award

John Madden

John Madden has selected the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as the Madden Protectors of the Week.

Each week, the Hall of Famer recognizes one NFL offensive line as the week’s top performing unit.

He will announce the NFL’s best offensive line for the 2011 season at a Super Bowl XLVI press conference. This is the third year of the Madden Protectors Award.

The Dallas Cowboys had 433 total yards, including 163 rushing yards, and allowed no sacks in the 44-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills last week.


A KEY TO SUCCESS: Dallas Cowboys offensive line continuity and growth

DeMarco Murray breaks through. Thanks to an improving Dallas Cowboys offensive line.

Photo courtesy: Ron T. Ennis/Star-Telegram


While quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray are getting all the headlines, deservedly so for their stellar play in Sunday’s blowout win against the Bills, its the improved play of the team’s offensive line that is the foundation of the Cowboys success of late.

It would be too simple, although somewhat accurate, say the improvement in the line coincided with the return of guard Montrae Holland not only to the team but to the starting lineup.

Holland replaced injured rookie Bill Nagy at left guard giving the Cowboys more bulk and experience up front which was crucial considering that team has first years starters at center and right tackle in Phil Costa and rookie top pick Tyron Smith.

But what’s also work is that the line has had chance to grow and gain some continuity and chemistry.

The Bills game featured the same offensive line playing together for the fourth straight game for the first time all season.

“When a group, any group, any position group is playing together it’s really important because you get a real good feel for each other and the communication you need to have,” coach Jason Garrett said. “There probably is no group on a football team that needs to communicate better than the offensive line. There are a lot of calls they make together and there is a lot of communication that happens right before the snap that they have to be on top of and be on the same page. And so the more times you get the chance to do that in practice and in games, hopefully you’ll get better at it.”


OFFENSIVE LINE: Kosier could slide to Center for a bigger line

Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck - The Boys Are Back blog


For years, offensive line coaches have said the goal is to get the five best lineman on the field at once, regardless of their most comfortable position.

Cowboys O-line coach Hudson Houck said that back in training camp and as the halfway point of the season approaches, that mindset likely hasn’t changed.

That’s why the return of veteran guard Derrick Dockery, who practiced this week for the first time since suffering a knee/leg injury in Week 2, could lead to a few changes on the line, possibly as early as next week.

With Dockery returning to the lineup, coupled by the play of Montrae Holland, the Cowboys might look to move veteran guard Kyle Kosier inside to center, a position he only practiced the last two seasons but has never played during his 10-year career.

“If they need me to, I will,” said Kosier, who was rather blunt when asked about the challenges of playing center. “Well, you have to snap the ball. It’s not easy to make the calls in loud stadiums, have your head down with a silent count, and snap the ball, too. I respect those guys for doing that.”

That switch would ultimately move Phil Costa out of the starting lineup. Kosier had much respect for the play Costa has done this year in the middle.

“I think Phil has done a great job,” Kosier said. “A young player being put in that position. It’s not easy.”

The Cowboys worked Kosier at center the last two years as a game-day backup and while Andre Gurode never came out of the game, Kosier said there were some close calls.

“He almost did a couple of times,” he said. “I made sure he stayed in.”

This week, it’s likely that Costa will start as Dockery just returned to practice and is expected to back up Holland (left) and Kosier (right) at guard. But when everyone is back to 100 percent, a move could be on the horizon.

Dallas Cowboys rookie lineman already making a name for himself

IRVING — In answering six questions about rookie right tackle Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck invoked Larry Allen’s name three times. There are worse comparisons.

Allen will go into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor later this season, and he is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Smith has played four NFL games, but already Houck is seeing greatness in the rookie.

“I thought he was going to be a good player. We all thought that,” Houck said Tuesday. “Obviously, you looked at him and knew he had good talent. But a lot of things you don’t know about a guy: Does he get wide-eyed when he comes in here? ‘Oh, this guy is rushing me. He’s a great player. I’ve read about him in the newspaper.’

“This is not too big for him. Even though we heard a lot of good things about his work ethic, we didn’t know just how good it was until we got him in here. Because of that, he’ll come along quickly.”

Another thing Smith has in common with Allen is he is a man of few words. He needed only four minutes to answer 22 questions at his locker Tuesday.

It was 22 more questions than he answered after the Cowboys’ 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

“I didn’t want to say nothing to nobody. I just didn’t want to talk,” Smith said. “…I’m upset every time we lose.”

Smith had a nearly perfect day against the Lions, according to Pro Football Focus. He graded out the best among the Cowboys’ offensive players, according to the website, which said, “…Smith should be proud of his day when he watches the film.”

But Smith was upset by the sack he allowed to Lions defensive end Willie Young, who got Smith off balance and then got to Tony Romo with 35 seconds remaining after Smith fell onto his back.

“It was just bad technique,” Smith said.

It was the first full sack Smith has allowed this season. He has been called for two false starts and given up 1.5 sacks, according to STATS, Inc.

“He wants to be perfect in what he does,” Houck said. “He never shies away from work. He’s a really good practice player. He’s a heck of a guy who listens. We’re really pleased with him.

“And he’s playing well. He gave up a sack last week that he’s very upset about. But you learn. Larry Allen had some sacks early in his career as well.”

Smith, 20, was selected ninth overall by the Cowboys. He is the first offensive lineman Dallas has selected in the first round since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.

Smith might be an early candidate for offensive rookie of the year if not for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick, whose 1,386 passing yards rank third in the NFL.

“He’s done a great job,” center Phil Costa said of Smith. “He came in and picked the offense up really quick. He got a lot of work in training camp, a lot of work in preseason. He’s just done a phenomenal job there.”

Allen started his career at left tackle before eventually switching to guard, where he became one of the top players at that position in NFL history. Like Allen, Smith could change positions, too.

Smith played right tackle in college at USC, but Houck said Smith has the ability to play left tackle against the league’s pass rushers. Smith and Doug Free could one day switch sides because Free has the ability to play either side as well.

“He can play any position. He could play any position,” Houck said of Smith. “In the future, we might do that. In the future. Right now we’re pretty set on what we’re doing.”

Sack bothers Dallas Cowboy rookie Tyron Smith


Dallas Cowboys 2011 first round draft pick Tyron Smith

Dallas Cowboys 2011 first round NFL Draft pick Tyron Smith

Tyron Smith has had a good season, and he had a good day against the Lions. But he was upset by the sack he allowed to Lions defensive end Willie Young, who got Smith off balance and then got to Tony Romo with 35 seconds remaining after Smith fell onto his back.

“It was just bad technique,” Smith said.

It was the first full sack Smith has allowed this season. He has been called for two false starts and given up 1.5 sacks, according to STATS, Inc.

“He wants to be perfect in what he does,” Houck said. “He never shies away from work. He’s a really good practice player. He’s a heck of a guy who listens. We’re really pleased with him. And he’s playing well. He gave up a sack last week that he’s very upset about it. But you learn. Larry Allen had some sacks early in his career as well.”

Smith made all 24 of his starts at USC at right tackle, but Houck said Smith has the ability to play left tackle against the league’s pass rushers. Smith and Doug Free could one day switch sides since Free has the ability to play either side as well.

“He can play any position. He could play any position,” Houck said of Smith. “In the future, we might do that. In the future. Right now we’re pretty set on what we’re doing.”

Can’t blame the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line for loss to Detroit Lions

Dallas Cowboys OL vs Detroit Lions

Dallas Cowboys OL vs Detroit Lions

ARLINGTON – Much of the Cowboys’ concerns coming into Sunday’s game against Detroit had to do with slowing down the Lions’ front four on defense.

For the most part, the Cowboys’ young offensive line played well Sunday, holding Ndamukong Suh and Co. to only one sack.

The Cowboys’ run blocking was better, too, considering they averaged 4.2 yards per carry Sunday after entering the game at 3.2 yards a carry. Felix Jones led the Cowboys with 57 yards rushing on 16 carries, and Tashard Choice had his best game yet with 39 rushing yards on six carries.

Additionally, center Phil Costa had no bad snaps to Tony Romo a week after the two had four center-to-quarterback exchange issues snapping the football against Washington.

Matchups: Dallas Cowboys young OL vs. Detroit Lions talented DL

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh vs Dallas Cowboys offense

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh vs Dallas Cowboys offense

While Ndamukong Suh gets most of the attention for Detroit’s front four, the rest of the unit is pretty salty as well, from the two defensive ends, Cliff Avril and the veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, to the other tackle, Corey Williams, another experienced player.

Vanden Bosch, who leads the team with 3.0 sacks, will rush from the right side more often than not, meaning he’ll face off against Doug Free, while Tyron Smith gets Avril.

It’s expected that Suh won’t be matched up against the Cowboys’ young left guard Bill Nagy much, if at all. Suh almost always lines up across from an offense’s right guard, which is the strong side for teams with a right-handed quarterback.

Last year against the Cowboys, he fought Leonard Davis all day, and this year he’ll be squaring off against Kyle Kosier.

Still, everyone on the Cowboys’ O-line has to be aware of the matchups taking place across the board.

“It’s a real big challenge for our offensive line, wherever he lines up,” Nagy said of Suh. “He’s a powerful, athletic player. He finishes. It’ll be a good challenge for us, I’m sure. It helps when people double-team him for sure.”

Nagy will likely face Williams for most of the day, which isn’t much easier.

“He’s great too,” Nagy said. “There’s a lot of people that you aren’t even talking much about on the other side, but their whole defensive line is real good. It’s going to be a challenge for our whole unit.”

Seven active linemen was a close call vs SF

The Cowboys had only seven linemen active for the game against the 49ers. Kevin Kowalski was the reserve interior lineman, and Jermy Parnell was the reserve tackle.

So when center Phil Costa went out with a knee injury and Kowalski came in, there would have been no replacement if he or one of the guards had been hurt.

The Cowboys got fortunate in a couple of ways. First, they wound up not needing another guard. Second, Kowalski had been working more at center than guard.

“Fortunately, I had been getting quite a bit of reps at center during the week,” Kowalski said. “Not so much at guard. So the situation wasn’t the worst situation that could have happened to me, and I felt I was pretty prepared and the coaches helped me be prepared for the moment.”

OL Derrick Dockery getting first-team reps

IRVING — The Cowboys had three starters along the offensive line listed on the injury report on Wednesday: Tackle Tyron Smith (knee), guard Bill Nagy (neck) and center Phil Costa (knee).

Smith and Costa were full participants in practice but Nagy’s injury is new and it’s possible his health forced the Cowboys to give Derrick Dockery some first-team reps. The Cowboys have been positive when talking about Nagy’s efforts in the Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, but Dockery has started 111 games at guard in his career and having an experienced player at that spot could help the offensive line.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for me. I want to take full advantage of it,” Dockery said. “We’re playing a talented tough team in San Francisco, so it’s going to be a very tough matchup first game. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Dockery was signed Sept. 5 and he’s still learning the Cowboys’ offensive scheme. The last two seasons in Washington, Dockery played in Denver’s one-cut zone blocking scheme whereas in Dallas he plays in a traditional zone scheme.

“It’s coming along,” Dockery said of learning the scheme. “I’m in my playbook every day, every night. It’s coming to me pretty easily. I’ve been in a similar offense before, so the terminology is the same. Little wrinkles here and there. I’m just right now talking to Tony [Romo], [Doug] Free, [Kyle Kosier] and seeing as far as the snap count some of the little details that might help me while I’m out there playing.”

Offensive line coach Hudson Houck said he’s not sure if Dockery will start on Sunday.

It doesn’t appear the Cowboys want a rotation with their linemen because communication is important and they don’t want to mix and match players during a game.

“You want to have guys who can communicate together,” Houck said. “Communication sometimes on the right side is different than communication on the left side. You need guys in there who can work together in any environment, whether in an office environment, whether in a family environment, communication is pretty important.”

Derrick Dockery working at left guard, along with Bill Nagy

Although the Cowboys said all the right things about their offensive line  play, particularly the three first-year starters, after Sunday’s game against  the Jets, they did acknowledge there were problems in the interior.

Specifically, rookie Bill Nagy was pushed back several times. While he plays  with good technique, size and strength remain a problem for him and the  Cowboys _ especially when they are already playing with an undersized center in  Phil Costa and a smallish right guard in Kyle Kosier.

It is one reason the Cowboys struggled running the ball against the  Jets.

Owner Jerry Jones hinted on his local radio show on Tuesday that the team  would look at veteran Derrick Dockery as an option for Costa. Jones said that  was the reason they signed the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Dockery and that was the plan  all along.

Well, the Cowboys looked to be putting the plan in action on Wednesday as  Dockery worked some with the first team at left guard along with Nagy. Time will  tell if the move is permanent.

Dallas Cowboys youth shows, but OL battled

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Cowboys knew growing pains would accompany three first-year starting offensive linemen this season, particularly in the opener against a complex Jets defense.

That proved true in Sunday’s 27-24 loss. The young trio of Phil Costa and rookies Tyron Smith and Bill Nagy battled all night, but offensive line coach Hudson Houck will likely point to a share of mistakes among the entire line this week.

Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked four times and hit at least that many times. One sack could be attributed to veteran right guard Kyle Kosier, who appeared to get beat by the Jets’ Bart Scott.

The biggest issue, Houck said, was the running game’s inconsistency. The Cowboys gained only 64 yards on 26 carries (2.5 avg.), and the longest gain was Kevin Ogletree’s 7-yard end-around.

“They did a nice job of taking it away with a lot of Bear defense which was kind of overloaded to the run,” said Houck, also the offense’s run game coordinator. “That’s just kind of what their style is.”

Houck said the Jets’ nickel pass rush hurt the line early, but they recovered as the game wore on.

“Just the idea that the guys kept playing and kept fighting and some of the young guys I didn’t think it was too big for them,” he said. “They knew what was going on out there and they shared the information, whether it was good or bad. At least they knew what was happening.”

Said head coach Jason Garrett: “It’s a very good defense with a lot of looks in base and their nickel defense. They challenge you in a lot of ways, physically first, and then with their looks. I thought for the most part our guys handled it pretty well.”

Also Smith, the club’s first-round draft pick, appeared to finish the game without any setbacks after hyper-extending his right knee on Wednesday.

“Just took it day by day and saw how it felt,” he said. “It was ready by game day so they put me out there.”

A look at the new OL … and backups on the current roster









Costa, Phil***







Kowalski, Kevin







Nagy, Bill**







Arkin, David





Missouri State


Dockery, Derrick







Kosier, Kyle





Arizona State


Free, Doug





Northern Illinois


Parnell, Jermey







Smith, Tyron*





Southern California

BOLD = Projected starters for game 1

* Injured (May be replaced with Jermey Parnell or G Derrick Dockery)

** Starting at left guard

*** Coming off injury (May be replaced by Kevin Kowalski)

**** On last years roster or practice squad

2010 OL Roster

Player Spotlight: Parnell steadily learning to play offensive tackle

This is mostly new to Jeremy Parnell. He is a basketball player by trade. The 6-6, 306-pound Parnell played hoops at Mississippi before staying an  extra season to try his hand as an offensive lineman on the football team.

Parnell always believed he’d be in the NBA one day. Instead, he’s in the NFL. He has found that playing the offensive line is a lot like playing center in basketball.

“It’s cutting the man off on the baseline,” Parnell said. “That’s all it is at tackle. But now you can foul him. So that’s about it.”

The Cowboys signed Parnell off the Saints’ practice squad on Oct. 14 as a project. He has a good shot to stick around on the active roster another season to try to become an NFL player.

“It’s a very hard transition,” offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. “I think eventually he’s going to be a real good football player. He’s got all the skills. He’s got very quick hands, very quick feet. Now, he has to learn to hit the other guy. I know that sounds simple, but in basketball you don’t necessarily want to hit the other guy. Now, he’s willing. That’s not an issue. He’s coming along. I’m glad we have him.”

Parnell admitted hitting in his nature. He’s a basketball player, remember.

“Oh yeah, man, this game is physical,” Parnell said. “These are grown men. I’m steadily learning my position. They’re steadily throwing new things at  me. But I feel confident that if I continue to work, I’ll continue to get better and be able to help this team.”

— Charean Williams

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