It's possible that Marc Colombo's knee acting up in training camp could be the best thing that happened to the Dallas Cowboys offense this summer. While he tried his best to -- once again -- tough it out through pain, it appears that opting to have the surgery has him back on the field and as pain-free as he's been since at least the 2008 season.
We all know that Colombo is reaching the end of his career and he is the first to acknowledge this as well. We also know that Colombo is not at the same level he was in 2006 and 2007 and the wear on his knees is quickly catching up to him. Despite all of the knee injury issues over his career, Colombo has still managed to be a very solid right tackle for the Cowboys and while we'd all like to have the absolute best at every position Colombo has been a more than worthy option on the right side of the offense.
More importantly, Colombo has become the heart and soul of the offensive line. What he lacks in physical ability and talent he makes up for with hard work, a tireless work ethic and the absolute nastiest attitude of any player on offense. It's this attitude that was sorely missing last week against Washington as the Cowboys struggled to find an identity and points while once again racking up a high amount of yards.
Marc Colombo will be back on the field on Sunday and with the Cowboys taking on a fast, physical and explosive Chicago Bears defense, his attitude could be exactly what this offense needs.
Some may point out that in Colombo's absence last season due to an injury that the Cowboys offense still performed just as well as it did with him. This season is different however, with heightened expectations and all sorts of pressure on the Cowboys to do their absolute best, and while the Cowboys were fine without him last season there's no doubt they desperately needed his return now.
Watching the Cowboys last week against the Redskins you couldn't help but notice that something was just off. Tony Romo was fine, the running game looked good and we even got to witness Dez Bryant make some plays. Yet there was an overall tentativeness about the offense, a shakiness that manifested itself -- once again -- with dumb penalties and decisions at the worst moments in the game.
The Cowboys are a confident team. The defense has attitude, as well they should; under Wade Phillips this defense has evolved into one of the best in the NFL. They play with hunger and fire and will stop at nothing to make the play. Sure, this defense fails to make the big game changing turnover too often but that doesn't stop them from being one of the stingiest at allowing points in the NFL.
That attitude has not carried over to offense. The struggles of the preseason were prevalent once more against Washington and while Romo looked good -- even great -- at times it was painfully obvious that he was uncomfortable and jittery in the pocket. This extended to the rest of the offense and while the Cowboys were able, like always, to move the ball it was actually putting up points that was the sticking point.
It's almost painfully obvious where this lack of comfortability came from. Watching the right side of the offensive line work last week was painful most times and downright excruciating at others. While we won't blame the entire loss on just one play and one player, the entire game it was painfully obvious the offense was geared towards covering up the shortcomings of the backup right tackle.
Marc Colombo might not have the physical tools that Alex Barron does but he does have much, much more: smarts, strength, never-give-up mentality and most important of all a downright nasty attitude.
It's this attitude that the Cowboys need to feed off of this week. Having Kyle Kosier and Colombo back puts the offense at full strength for the first time in well over a month and most importantly it puts that offensive line at full strength. Say what you will about the struggles of the line against Minnesota or the how the line as a whole is older than most want, it's impossible to deny that that as a whole the Cowboys operate much smoother when Kosier is back and Colombo is anchoring that right side.
I understand that Doug Free filled in just fine on the right side but it's obvious now that Free's abilities are much greater than we thought last season. He's extremely athletic and has a bit of a nastiness of his own, but Colombo -- when healthy -- is able to give this offense an edge they've been lacking.
I expect to see a much more confident and certainly less tentative Romo in the pocket this weekend, and hopefully a more balanced running game that can actually attack the right side of the offensive line as well. Colombo's abilities may not be exactly what we'd hope for in a starting offensive linemen for the Cowboys but it's obvious that this team needs the attitude he brings to the game. With Colombo healthy he should be much more stable than we've seen him for a while now and against this Chicago Bears defense that's what is most important of all.