After the 2017 season ended, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett decided to make some wholesale changes to the structure of the Dallas Cowboys to avoid another disappointment, if 9-7 can really be called a disappointment. While offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli both remained with the team, much of the staff around them has changed. This series is meant to profile each coach, including the ones who stayed, and analyze how their presence will contribute to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. Today, we are looking at former Cowboys player-turned-coach, Marc Colombo. Be sure to check out our other profiles below:
The assistant offensive line coach for Dallas should be plenty familiar to Cowboys fans. Marc Colombo was known for his time as an offensive tackle, where he spent six of his eleven years as a player with the Cowboys.
A Boston College grad, Colombo was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears in 2002. Over his three and a half seasons in Chicago, Colombo was only active in 19 games and started just seven; injuries plagued him each year. After being released near the end of the 2005 season, Colombo was picked up by the Cowboys. He didn’t play again in the 2005 season, but took the time to heal his body. In 2006, Colombo earned the starting right tackle job and not only did he start all 16 games, but he played incredibly well on an offensive line consisting of Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, and Kyle Kosier. The offensive line’s play as a whole led to some outstanding numbers for Dallas, who was also witnessing the rise of Tony Romo.
Colombo became entrenched at the right tackle spot and wouldn’t miss a game until the 2009 season, when he broke his fibula. That injury paved the way for Doug Free. Colombo returned the next season with Free moving to left tackle, but the Cowboys were in the midst of a tumultuous season that saw Wade Phillips get fired and usher in a rebuild led by Jason Garrett. Colombo was released after the 2010 season as Dallas tried to undergo a youth movement in the trenches, which started with the selection of Tyron Smith. Colombo went to the Miami Dolphins for a mildly productive year and then signed a one-day deal with Dallas to retire a Cowboy.
In the beginning of the 2014 season, Dallas brought Colombo in as an assistant in the personnel department before becoming the assistant offensive line coach in 2015, when Bill Callahan left the team and Frank Pollack filled his role. Since then, Colombo has become a valuable resource given his recent playing experience. His ability to connect with these offensive linemen and give them different insights on the game is part of what has made this unit so dominant. While the offensive line coach, whether it’s Callahan, Pollack, or Paul Alexander, are in charge of teaching and running the drills, Colombo is able to serve as a liaison of sorts between the coach and the players. His perspective as a recently retired player also offers good lessons to be taught to the young players, which he described in a recent interview:
Technique is everything. Things like footwork, things like working next to the guy you’re going to be working with on the field. For instance, rookie left guard Connor Williams is going to be lined-up up next to center Travis Frederick. We want those two guys getting in-sync with each other so that when we come full-speed, full-contact during the games, they’ve already done it a million times.
We like to work ‘aiming points’ on a defender. We like to run the wide zone here, so we have an aiming point and it’s are a certain amount of steps. It’s three steps to a target, there’s your aiming point, and then a track to the linebacker.
Another example is footwork. Footwork is a system. Footwork is always the same. That’s what makes decent offensive lines ‘okay’ and really good offensive lines, like we have, consistently good. We really harp on the footwork to make sure it’s consistent every time. Inconsistency is where you create hole on the offensive line. We, as coaches, spend this time in minicamp and OTAs trying to make our line cohesive so they can work together.
That last line is also critical to understanding the value of Colombo. With an offensive line, cohesion is perhaps the most important part. Colombo understands the importance of cohesion and how offensive linemen work with each other. His ability to connect with the players and work with them almost as a teammate than an actual coach is vital for the relationships between each lineman. As it stands now, Colombo’s boss Alexander is the guy with all the experience - decades of it - and Colombo is effectively the TA in this dynamic. Both are great resources for the players, and hopefully this dynamic will result in another outstanding year of the Great Wall of Dallas.