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Houck Expects Smith To Move To Left Side

While he is retiring from the Cowboys, offensive line coach Hudson Houck knows a great lineman when he sees one. He sees one in the Cowboys first round pick in 2011, Tryon Smith.

Smith was thrown to the wolves this year. As a rookie, he didn’t have the benefit of mini-camps or OTA’s in the offseason to learn the ropes of the NFL due to the lockout over the spring and early summer. He was tossed in during training camp and had to learn to keep his head above water. While many people have said that Smith was a surprise this year, one guy that wasn’t surprised is his, now former, offensive line coach.

“I think the right tackle (Smith), that may be moved, he’s going to be really, really special,” Houck said. “A 20-year-old kid who played pretty well for being thrown in there. This was a unique year for these young kids, no minicamps and no OTAs, this is unprecedented.”

Houck is largely regarded as one of the best coaches at his position and his opinion carries a lot of weight. While he thinks Smith is special, he seems to think that Doug Free has reached most of his potential.

“I think Doug will get better. He pretty much is what he is, but I think he can get better. Tyron will get a lot better.”

It is no secret that left tackle Doug Free struggled a lot this season. While he did a serviceable job against average opposition, the elite pass rushers had their way against him. It makes sense to switch the two tackles. The move puts Free at his natural RT spot and gives the young guy plenty of time to learn the left side. Expect the Cowboys to do that this offseason.

“It’s an offseason thing,” Houck said. “I think it will be done. I can’t speak to what they’re thinking now, but I would guess that’s what it’ll be.”

Houck said he thought the guys fought well along the line this year, and even improved as the season went along. He expects them to continue to improve as they prepare for next season and an offseason together.

Now the offensive line duties will fall to Bill Callahan. The former Jets coach will have the task of taking this group to the next level. It might start with a switch for Tyron Smith.


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One Response to “Houck Expects Smith To Move To Left Side”

  1. Echelon1 says:

    This tackle flip was the publicly stated initial plan before the season if Tyron produced like they thought he would. Get him year NFL experience and then flip them. I think he even surpassed expectations and no doubt he will be the left tackle. As most Cowboys fans know, Free is out of position at left tackle. He just doesn’t pass block as well with guys coming from his left. As someone who spent time playing both tackles in HS and college, and if you ask any tackle in the league, every guy has a preference and is better on one side. I preferred playing right tackle on offense, and left tackle on defense.

    In guys with immense talent the drop off is not as noticeable. But guys with pretty good talent, but never dominating like Free, the drop off can be significant. I think that is the case here, and was evident as soon as he switched to left tackle last year and Columbo was right tackle. Free was actually a pretty solid right tackle for Dallas. If anyone else recalls, two years ago he the top available tackle in all of NFL free agency. Once he moved to left his game noticeably dipped. And in the NFC East the pass rushers are murderous. A dip in game will be magnified much in this division. Still, you don’t become the top free agent NFL tackle just a few years back (when he played right tackle) if you aren’t pretty solid.

    Let’s see what the new coach and switch back to where he is natural does for him. Also, remember Dallas played and even started a ton of youth in the line this year, none have had an NFL offseason or weight training program. And recall Dallas signed the Pats S&C coach last offseason to bolster training. So before we write off Nagy, Kowalski, Arkin, Costa, etc…let’s see how they improve under a full off-season with the coaches and training. They say the first S&C program you go through in the pros is light years ahead of college and your body gets so much more adept to that level of playing. Most of these guys have yet to have that and still did fairly well considering.

    Yes, we need to add some new OL pieces, but I have a feeling all of these guys will improve with the rotation of starting tackles and a real offseason. All we really need is a new solid starting center and quality back-up tackle. With that we’d have a strong starting lineup…Smith, Nagy, new center, Kosier, Free (back at natural side where he impressed all of NFL 2 years ago) and lot of depth. Several guys we already have can backup at both center and guard.

    A starting center and quality backup tackle, and I think Cowboys o-line is big strength next year. That’s truly not alot of additions and very realistic. Also, losing Holland and Dockery’s salaries create at least some helpful cap space for it. High-quality free agent starting centers are available from Texans, Packers, Colts, Chargers. I’d definitely address center in free agency and not draft. Cowboys have a ton of youth and need more veteran leadership in the group.

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