By Dwain Price, NDG Sports
FRISCO – The Dallas Cowboys had a bye week this past week. But that didn’t prevent them from making news.
In an attempt to shore up their anemic receiving core, last week the Cowboys traded a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and ’16.
And this past Monday, the Cowboys addressed another issue on offense by firing offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who they hired last spring. Cowboys assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo has replaced Alexander.
Former offensive line coach Hudson Houck was also hired by the Cowboys on Monday to be an advisory consultant for Colombo and the offensive line.
The Cowboys entered the bye week with a disappointing 3-4 record and are two games behind the Washington Redskins, who lead the NFC East with a 5-2 record.
Time’s a wasting, and the Cowboys realize it. Hence the moves involving Cooper and Alexander.
“While approaching the midpoint of the season and going through an overall evaluation of our entire operation during the bye week, we felt that this move would serve the best interests of our team moving forward,” coach Jason Garrett said, referring to the firing of Alexander. “We have great respect and admiration for Paul and what he has accomplished in a very successful career in the NFL.
“These are not easy decisions to make at any time of the year, but we will move ahead with the utmost confidence in what Marc Colombo and Hudson Houck will bring to our team in their new roles.”
Colombo, 40, was an offensive tackle for the Cowboys from 2005-’10 and has been on Garrett’s staff for four seasons. He was a 2002 first-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears and started 95 games for the Cowboys.
Meanwhile, Houck was the offensive line coach for the Cowboys from 1993-2001, and also from 2008-2011. He also was the offensive line coach when the Cowboys won Super Bowls following the 1993 and ’95 seasons.
In fact, during Houck’s initial nine-year tenure with the Cowboys, the 203 sacks they allowed represented the fewest any team allowed during that span.
The Cowboys are generally known to have the game’s best offensive line. But this year quarterback Dak Prescott has been sacked 23 times and harassed on numerous other occasions.
The Cowboys are also fourth in the league in rushing (136.9 yards per game), but only 29th in passing (183.1 yards per contest). And in the 20-17 loss to the Redskins on Oct. 21, running back Ezekiel Elliott was held to just 33 yards rushing while the Cowboys amassed 73 total rushing yards.
Still, owner Jerry Jones believes the Cowboys have what it takes to win their division this year.
“I’m more urgent,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “Not that we shouldn’t start off the first kickoff in Carolina (on opening day) urgent, but we’re more urgent because we dug a hole here.
“In order to really be where we want to be, which haven’t diminished – that be in the playoffs – then we’ve got to be pretty strong in our success here. We don’t have the room to wiggle here.”
The Cowboys will try and remain within striking distance of the Redskins when they host the Tennessee Titans on Monday at 7:15 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. They also know they have a huge showdown with the Redskins at home on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 22.
These two games take on even more importance since the Cowboys are 3-0 at home, but only 0-4 on the road this season.
“I know you see it in every other discipline — any other business or areas — you see adjustments being made on the run,” Jones said on his radio show. “And so I think what you’re seeing in us in the Cowboys is us analyzing, assessing, looking at ways that we can play better on the road, looking for ways that we can get some spark in our offense, block it up, protect it up better, do what we can do both with personnel as well as with our strategies to just be a better team and win more games.”