Dallas Cowboys: 2012 transactions

Hudson Houck: 'I had a great run'

January, 11, 2012
Hudson Houck said he plans on retiring from the NFL, after a long-career which ended in 2011 with the Dallas Cowboys as the offensive line coach.

"I had a great run," said Houck, 68. "I've spent 13 years with the Cowboys and all of them were wonderful. The owner has been generous to me."

Yet, Houck said he could be like a prize fighter and return to the game he loves despite saying he will retire. Houck could duplicate what Howard Mudd, the veteran offensive line coach, who will coach the offensive line with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2012 season.

Mudd, who is 69, was thought to have retired after a long stint with the Indianapolis Colts, but was talked about of retirement and coached with the New Orleans Saints in 2010 and then the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

"He's one of my idols," Houck said of Mudd. "I have plenty of energy, expertize and love the game."

Houck said once the 2011 season ended he thought about retiring but wasn't sure of his plans. His contract had come to an end and the Cowboys didn't say he wasn't welcomed back.

"My time is up here and somebody will carry it well," he said.

That person is Bill Callahan, who is leaving the New York Jets as their offensive line coach. Callahan was twice offered a contract extension by the Jets, according to ESPN New York, but declined the opportunity.

Tuesday night, Houck said he hasn't spoken to the offensive linemen that he coached this season, including left tackle Doug Free, right tackle Tyron Smithand center Phil Costa, among others.

"This came about suddenly," Houck said. "I will miss those guys. You miss the coaches and the relationships you built."

Brett Maxie gets interest from Tennessee

January, 10, 2012
According to a source, Cowboys safeties coach Brett Maxie will interview with the Tennessee Titans to become the new secondary coach.

Tennessee asked the Cowboys for permission to speak with Maxie. The Washington Redskins also could make a move toward Maxie.

Marcus Robertson, who spent the last five seasons with the Titans, was released last week.

Maxie did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Maxie has spent the past four seasons on the Cowboys staff as a safeties coach.

The Cowboys are expected to finalize the hiring of former Cleveland Browns secondary coach Jerome Henderson, maybe as soon as Monday, according to a source.

Also, Hudson Houck, has retired as the offensive line coach and will be replaced by former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan. Callahan spent the last four seasons with the New York Jets.

Maybe year too late, but right moves made

January, 10, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- At the end of the disastrous 2010 season two of the Cowboys biggest problem areas were the secondary and offensive line. A year later, they remain problem areas but this time the Cowboys will do something they hope rectifies the problems.

In addition to the expected changeover in personnel in 2012, the Cowboys will have a change in assistant coaches, too, with Bill Callahan and Jerome Henderson replacing Hudson Houck and Dave Campo.

The changes had to be difficult on Jason Garrett because of his personal relationships with Houck and Campo that go back to his playing days with the Cowboys.

But at some point you have to cut the cord.

By not renewing the deals for Houck and Campo, Garrett severed ties to the teams Super Bowl teams of the 1990s and brought in two coaches with no real ties to his playing or coaching days.

It takes some guts to go with guys you know only on reputation or on the recommendations of others.

Callahan has an excellent reputation as an offensive line coach. Henderson, who played for Bill Parcells with New England and the New York Jets, was on the Cowboys’ wish last year but Cleveland blocked the move. He was the only defensive assistant to remain under new coach Pat Shurmur’s staff.

Why did these moves happen today?

Tuesday marked the end of the seven-day grace period teams have in attempting to keep coaches whose contracts had run out after the 2011 season.

Callahan reportedly turned down an extension from the New York Jets, where he was the assistant head coach. What will be his title with the Cowboys? Does he come in solely as the offensive line coach or does he take over the running game coordinator title Houck had as well?

Henderson should take over a secondary in transition. Terence Newman could be a salary-cap casualty. Abram Elam, whom he coached in Cleveland, will be an unrestricted free agent, as will backup cornerbacks Alan Ball and Frank Walker. The Cowboys re-signed cornerback Orlando Scandrick and safety Gerald Sensabaugh to extensions in 2011 and cornerback Mike Jenkins will be in the final year of his contract in 2012.

Maybe the moves came a year too late, but better late than never.

Jerome Henderson will be new DB coach

January, 10, 2012
The Cowboys will hire Jerome Henderson as their secondary coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

The deal is expected to be finalized by Monday.

Henderson, 42, will reunite with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with the Cowboys. Henderson spent the last three seasons as the Cleveland Browns’ secondary coach, working for Ryan the first two years. The Browns ranked second in the NFL in passing defense this season.

Henderson broke into coaching with the Jets in 2007 as an assistant defensive backs coach/director of player development. He was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2008, when Darrelle Revis made his first Pro Bowl appearance.

Henderson was a second-round pick by the Patriots in 1991 and played eight seasons in the NFL as a free safety. He made 33 starts in his career while playing for the Patriots, Bills, Eagles and Jets.

Quick look at new O-line coach Bill Callahan

January, 10, 2012
The addition of Bill Callahan to the Cowboys’ coaching staff will provides Jason Garrett an offensive assistant with valuable experience as a head coach and play-caller.

Callahan, who ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports will replace the retiring Hudson Houck as offensive coordinator, was the Oakland Raiders’ head coach from 2000-02 and also spent four seasons as the University of Nebraska’s head coach. He was 15-17 with the Raiders, who Callahan led to the Super Bowl in his first season as head coach, and 27-22 at Nebraska.

Callahan has been the Jets’ assistant head coach/offensive line coach since his stint at Nebraska. The Jets had an elite rushing attack in Callahan’s first three seasons, leading the NFL in rushing offense in 2009, but regressed badly this season, ranking 22nd in that category.

Callahan, who was the Raiders’ offensive coordinator before replacing Jon Gruden as the head coach, had offenses in Oakland that led the NFL in rushing (2000) and passing (2002).
Tony Sparano’s return to Valley Ranch makes so much sense that Jerry Jones needs to offer as many dollars as necessary to make it happen.

Maybe that won’t matter, as Sparano has financial security from the contract extension the Dolphins gave him through 2013 before deciding to fire him as their head coach in December. Maybe Sparano will be offered a true offensive coordinator job with play-calling responsibilities, which Jason Garrett will not give up, that he considers too good to pass up.

But Jerry has to give it his best shot if he really wants Garrett to succeed.

Jones has proven in the past that he’s willing to pay top dollar for assistant coaches, compensating Garrett like a head coach to keep him on Wade Phillips’ staff and making Hudson Houck the NFL’s first million-dollar offensive line coach. Sparano, a key factor in helping Bill Parcells rebuild the Cowboys’ respectability last decade, justifies that kind of offer.

Loyalty to Houck, who is in his second tour of duty at Valley Ranch, can’t get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. Jones and Garrett can’t let their personal feelings for Houck cloud their judgment.

If Houck and Sparano can co-exist on a staff, that’s swell. But if Houck has to go to make room for Sparano, so be it.

There are many reasons why Sparano, who is respected tremendously by team leaders like Tony Romo and Jason Witten, should be a priority for the Cowboys. The main ones:

1. Sparano would make Garrett a better head coach: Whether he wants to publicly admit it or not, everybody knows that Garrett made critical clock-management errors in a couple of losses. One solution would be to give up play-calling duties to allow Garrett to focus more on the big picture during games, but that isn’t going to happen. He’d benefit from having somebody else on the headset with significant head coaching experience.

2. Sparano would make Garrett a better offensive coordinator: This isn’t just a theory. It’s fact. Garrett’s best season by far as an offensive coordinator was in 2007, the only season that he worked with Sparano. The Cowboys ranked second in the NFL in scoring (28.4 points per game) that season despite it being Romo’s first full year as a starter. They’ve been a top-10 scoring offense only once in the four seasons since then, when they ranked seventh (24.6 points) in 2010.

3. Sparano would make the offensive line better: Dallas’ offensive line has steadily regressed since Sparano’s departure. His edginess and expertise have been missed. Hiring Sparano would increase Tyron Smith’s chances to reach his immense potential. It would increase Doug Free’s odds to return to his 2010 form. It’d give the Cowboys’ young, unproven offensive linemen – which should include another early-round pick in April – their best shot of developing into long-term solutions.

One man could help fix a few of the Cowboys' biggest flaws. What's that worth to Jerry?

UPDATE: Houck is retiring, as reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen. He will be replaced by Bill Callahan, whose résumé includes stints as a play-caller and head coach for the Raiders and University of Nebraska.