FRISCO, Texas – Marc Colombo laid out his message as the Cowboys' new offensive line coach the only way he knows how:
Blunt and intense.
"We've got to get back to our roots the past few years here, which has been a nasty attitude," he told reporters Friday.
As a starting right tackle for the Cowboys in the early 2000s, the 6-foot-8 Colombo was a fierce competitor and a diligent technician. That's clearly the identity he wants for the current line, a proud and decorated group that hasn't met their own expectations through seven games this season.
On Monday the Cowboys parted ways with first-year line coach Paul Alexander, a former long-time assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals who brought a different philosophy in technique to Dallas. Colombo said he'll re-introduce some of the concepts the veteran linemen are more familiar with that also happen to be part of his own background as a coach and former player.
"Most coaches' style is one way. Coach Paul's was a different way," Colombo said. "He's had tremendous success with that style, and to his defense, it had only been in place for a short amount of time. But these guys, some of the older guys, are used to doing more of my style. That's kind of what we're going to go back to."
To help with the transition, Colombo is excited to have Hudson Houck, his former position coach, on board in an advisory role.
Colombo pointed out that the line did have some success in the first seven games. Led by Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys are ranked fourth in rushing offense at 136.9 yards per game.
But only eight teams have allowed more sacks than the 23 given up by the Cowboys' line. Quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked 32 times all of last season and only 25 his rookie year when he led Dallas to a 13-3 record.
This year's line is working with two new starters: second-round draft pick Connor Williams at left guard and veteran Joe Looney at center while Pro Bowler Travis Frederick recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome. But when the group has struggled, it has been a collective issue – particularly in the Cowboys' four road losses.
Colombo is tasked with helping them regain their edge.
"I'm more of an old-school guy in the sense that we're going to work. We're going to grind every day," he said. "We're going to be out there working every single technique, every drill. We're going to bring violence and nasty to the game. The guys have done that somewhat.
"I just think we need to get back to who we are and what we do. And obviously I'm a part of that too. It's really no one's fault. We're trying to find a solution. The coaches and Coach (Jason) Garrett and Mr. (Jerry) Jones thought this was the best opportunity for us to do that. So that's what we'll do."