High-paid OL coach has to earn salary

IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones insists he isn’t losing sleep over the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line, which he figures is in good hands.

“One of the reasons that I have confidence is that I have the highest-paid offensive line coach in the NFL,” Jerry said. “You start right there with Hudson Houck. Seriously, I think he’s a good man to have on a job when you start having to switch guys around.”

Houck, a 27-year NFL veteran who has a couple of Super Bowl rings from his previous Valley Ranch tenure, needs to earn his salary for the Cowboys to emerge as legitimate contenders in the NFC.

That didn’t happen last season. The Cowboys’ offensive line struggled mightily the last month of the season, which ended with quarterback Tony Romo explaining how the Philadelphia Eagles “exposed” the Dallas protection schemes.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is coming off its worst performance of the season. The linemen were befuddled by the Green Bay Packers’ blitz schemes. Romo was sacked five times, although running back Marion Barber was responsible for one, and the Cowboys didn’t put any points on the scoreboard until the game was decided.

Now, Houck is facing perhaps his biggest challenge since returning to Valley Ranch: replacing right tackle Marc Colombo, who will miss at least six weeks while recovering from left ankle surgery and a broken fibula.

The Cowboys lost left guard Kyle Kosier in September last season, and Cory Procter struggled after being thrust into the starting lineup. It’s tougher to help a tackle than it is a guard, but Houck has expressed confidence that Doug Free will be fine in Colombo’s spot.

“In our case, we just kind of plug a guy in what the other guy has been doing,” Houck said. “We’re not going to change what we’ve been doing.”

Houck is being paid handsomely to see that the line does much better than it did at Lambeau Field.