Winds of change

The Cowboys have already started an overhaul of the coaching staff in their attempt to place blame for the woeful 2011 season and make changes for next year.

Longtime secondary coach Dave Campo is gone, as is veteran offensive line coach Hudson Houck, who retired Jan. 10 after 29 years in the league.

The two will be replaced by Jerome Henderson and Bill Callahan, respectively.

Henderson is coming to Dallas from Cleveland, where he worked under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in 2009 and 2010. The Cowboys wanted to hire him last year when they hired Ryan but couldn't get him away from his contract.

Callahan is coming from the Jets and is likely here because the Cowboys couldn't get former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to take the gig without also being offensive coordinator and having full play-calling duties.

The move with Campo was not unexpected considering the performance of the secondary of late, and the offensive line was a target of criticism as well prior to Houck's retirement announcement.

But as the Cowboys continue their evaluation process they will likely find that team's woes were more because of a failure in personnel than coaching.

That point is most clear on defense, where Ryan was brought in to improve a unit that gave up more points and more passing touchdowns in 2010 under Wade Phillips than any in team history.

The Cowboys improved in points allowed overall but the pass defense was again an abomination when you consider it gave up the second-most passing yards in team history and came nowhere close to slowing down the truly elite passing quarterbacks. Michael Vick of the Eagles, Tom Brady of the Pats, Eli Manning of the Giants and Matt Stafford of the Lions combined for 13 touchdown0s and four interceptions against the Cowboys.

The Cowboys blamed their problems on communications issues due to not being able to learn Ryan's scheme because of the lockout and no offseason, which every team in the league had to deal with.

By contrast, Phillips went down to Houston and turned around a defense that finished 31st in the league in 2010. The Texans defense was second in 2011 as it got after the quarterback and made plays on the ball.

Clearly the problem on defense in Dallas in 2010 wasn't just about Wade Phillips, who has proven to be a very capable coordinator — just like the problem in 2011 wasn't solely on Ryan or the defrocked Campo.

The Cowboys must improve their personnel. They must find more playmakers who will get their hands on the ball in the secondary and get after the quarterback.

The Cowboys were dismal in both areas the past two seasons under Phillips and Ryan.

That's why a change in personnel is a must and the Cowboys have the opportunity to do that in offseason.

Linebackers Anthony Spencer, Bradie James and Keith Brooking, defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abe Elam and cornerbacks Frank Walker and Alan Ball are all free agents.

The majority of them will not be brought back in 2012.

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