Watch me. This is the way I did it. This is how I want you to do it.
This has not been the Giants’ way on their offensive line, but it is now. This is what Marc Colombo brings to the meeting room and the practice field. He stands 6-foot-8 and can take one of his players and move them where he wants them to go.
“It’s important for them to get a visual of exactly what it is instead of watching another guy do a technique that I was teaching,’’ Colombo said. “I’m able to get in there and do it myself, at least right now. I’m 41, so I’m not getting any younger.’’
This is the new way of business for the Giants and their offensive line, with Colombo, an assistant hired by Joe Judge, charged with making over a unit that for years has been in decline. It is not intimidation the towering Colombo is seeking, but rather, intensity and passion through osmosis.
“As far as being there with us, he’s one of us,’’ guard Will Hernandez, entering his third year with the Giants, said. “He’s one of the guys. Of course, you separate that title. When he’s coach, he’s coach. You have that respect line. But it’s cool having somebody who is very similar to everybody in that room and kind of gets it. He just gets it.’’
Colombo was a 2002 first round pick of the Bears out of Boston College — where he was a teammate of Giants Ring of Honor inductee Chris Snee — but his career never took hold in Chicago. He suffered a dislocated patella and femoral nerve damage after 10 games as a rookie, missed the entire 2003 season and half of 2004. The Bears waived him after one game in 2004 and he was out of football until the Cowboys — and Bill Parcells — came calling in November of 2005.
“Coach Parcells, I mean, he revived my career,’’ Colombo said. “He saw something in me when I was hurt and no other team would take a chance on me. I owe him a lot. He pushed me to be something better than I ever thought I could be. Forever indebted to that. I’d run through for a wall if he asked me to, right now.’’
Colombo retired in April 2012 and figured he would play his music and move on to other things. His heavy metal band, Free Reign, was rocking, with Colombo playing rhythm guitar and singing vocals. He is a big, big fan of Metallica, mentioning Master Of Puppets, Injustice For All, Ride The Lightning and Kill ’Em All as his favorites songs.
Jason Garrett, the Cowboys offensive coordinator and later interim head coach in Colombo’s later years in Dallas, was skeptical of Colombo’s music — “maybe a little harsh for me’’ — but had no such trepidation about the player and person. Garrett said jokingly he told Colombo he would give him “a couple of years’’ in the rock and roll world before summoning him back to coach his offensive line.
Garrett hired Colombo in 2016 and five years later pushed hard to get him on Judge’s first Giants staff.
“I’d say with Marc, the deciding factor wasn’t his past experience with Jason,’’ Judge said. “The deciding factor was he’s a tremendous coach. His body of work as you turn on the tape and watch how his guys play with technique, execution and toughness is ultimately what the deciding factor was.”
Getting Garrett’s blessing certainly did not hurt, though.
“He was one of those guys that was just a natural leader on our offensive line and throughout our team,’’ Garrett said. “He simply played the game the right way. You talk about wanting guys who are going to fight, guys who are smart, tough, disciplined, and play the game at a high level. Marc did that.’’
The Giants hope some of the offensive line excellence Colombo helped cultivate in Dallas accompanies him to the Giants, where the talent and experience level is suspect and the reliance on rookies (Andrew Thomas and possibly Shane Lemieux or Matt Peart), youngsters moving positions (Nick Gates) and a journeyman veteran (Cam Fleming), plus the opt-out of Nate Solder, makes for quite a challenge.
“It’s a work ethic and it’s a nasty attitude going out there and just kind of imposing our will on the defense,’’ Colombo said. “Flying around, that’s non-negotiable and that comes right from coach Judge and this organization. They demand it here.’’