Injuries have plagued the career of right tackle Marc Colombo.
It’s a shame because he certainly looks the part of a quality player at the position when healthy.
Through all of Dallas’ ups and downs on offense throughout the Garrett Administration, all has not been lost. Sure, the Cowboys have really been exposed as being a good team, but far from a great one.
But amidst disappointing results in 2010, recent history suggests that the Cowboys have the making for a very good offense.
The stats might not mean much in terms of wins and losses, but they do tell the story of a team that can get the ball down field. You don’t do this with poor pass protection.
Colombo was a bonus for the Cowboys, as the former first round pick of Chicago in 2002 became available at a real bargain by late 2005. As a project at that time, Colombo eventually delivered and was a key part of the team’s 13-3 showing in 2007.
Since suffering a broken leg against Green Bay last season, Colombo simply hasn’t been too available. His return to action last season in the playoffs was rather bittersweet, as the Cowboys won big against Philadelphia, but fell big to the Vikings the following week in Minnesota.
Colombo’s turnstile imitation explained much about the latter.
Perhaps most discouraging of all is the fact that an entire off season did not seem to do anything as far as helping Colombo get healthy. He missed the season opener against Washington, which set the stage for Alex Barron’s infamous holding call to negate Roy Williams’ game winning touchdown on the final play of the game.
It’s hard to believe some of this stuff isn’t just made up!
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have not drafted offensive linemen very well in recent years. Both the effort and the scouting proved to be minimally effective towards adding any kind of depth, let alone future starters.
Outside of Doug Free, there has not been any I can think of in a very long time.
With rookie Sam Young and veteran Barron as the only other right tackles close to being able to compete for playing time, the Cowboys have no real choice but to try one more time to get a healthy Colombo in the lineup for 2011.
Either that or Dallas could draft a young left tackle in the early rounds of the upcoming draft and simply move Doug Free back over to the right side. After all, this was where he wowed the coaching staff last season heading into the playoffs in relief of Colombo while he rehabbed.
In hindsight, it’s hard to tell if moving Free over to left tackle was the right call. In other words, what would the Cowboys have done if they knew that Colombo was going to miss time in 2010 and also look little like he has in seasons past?
Would Jerry Jones have kept Flozell Adams one more season?
The point is this: the Cowboys are in a hole when it comes to the offensive line and have just one off season to make significant changes that are overdue.
The premium that Jones is paying for his starting offensive line these days is almost offensive in and of itself.
The tackle positions, areas of strength as recently as early last season, are now big question marks. While it’s probably safer to expect Free to continue to improve over the next couple of seasons, I do not think that the long term future at right tackle is nearly as solid and Free is no Pro Bowler mind you.
Somehow, the Cowboys have to decide if Barron can push for a starting job, as he tried to maintain his slim hopes of remaining a starting lineman in the NFL. Barron would seem to have the motivation to do so and still provides outstanding depth.
At some point we have to let the holding call at Washington in the season opener drift away with the wind.
Sam Young is another question mark that provides few, if any, clues. Young comes from a big program with pro values, but I have not really been impressed with a Notre Dame offensive line in a long time.
Is Young better than his surrounding cast?
Right now, nobody knows.
I see no other choice than to bring Colombo back for one more run if he can stay healthy through training camp. If he’s rehabbing through training camp in 2011, then it’s time to walk.
The Cowboys must have a contingency plan heading into next season.
Rather than overspending for mediocrity in free agency, Jones needs to find the anchors of the Dallas offensive line in the draft. Depending on the potential new regime coming in soon, both tackle spots might be considered not well manned and that would be hard to argue.
But until those pieces are acquired, Colombo is paid for through 2012 and might as well get one last look.