So what about Marc Colombo? Coach Wade Phillips says he’ll not be ready for the season finale. Actually, listening to Wade talk about it makes me wonder if Colombo will be ready to go for the wildcard round. People actually seem to be worried about Doug Free getting another start while Colombo heals. I’m not, and I’ll tell you why.
I compared our last four games, all of which Free has started in place of Colombo, to four games earlier in the season when Colombo was starting and playing fully.
The first thing I noticed is that while Free shouldn’t be a part of matching numbers that Colombo was a part of, the comparison showed that in each set of four games we converted a total of 25/53 on third downs. But a little more telling about it that we had a lot more third downs with Colombo in the game.
Next I wanted to see how Romo faired in the pocket and if there was a notable difference between Free and Colombo playing, and there was a small difference. With Colombo, Romo was sacked nine times for a loss of 47 yards. With Free, Romo was sacked just seven times for a loss of 42 yards. Now we could argue that 2 sacks over four games doesn’t make that much of a difference, but I’m pretty sure that Romo and every other QB in the game would tell you that every sack matters.
But those numbers aren’t enough alone, so I looked at passing and rushing yards as well. Now for this I simply compared totals for each game in the sets defined as with Free or with Colombo.
The run game was better behind Colombo – no secret there. We averaged 113.5 rushing yards a game behind Colombo, and only 101.5 behind Doug Free. Of course the numbers for Free are skewed heavily by the lack of production against the Giants four weeks ago.
As far as throwing the ball though, well we did better behind Free averaging 309.8 yards a game and only 306.3 yards a game behind Colombo. But something to consider is that the numbers for Colombo include Miles Austin’s hella performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. And to be clear, all the games I compared were from the Chiefs game on so Austin was a big factor in all of them.
So when I hear people talking about being concerned that we won’t have Colombo back against Philly this coming week, I’m don’t really see the big deal. We’ve played as good or better with Doug Free. That’s not to say that when Colombo is healthy that Free might challenge him for his spot – that’s simply not going to happen. But if Marc ever needs a breather, we’ve got a good player to give him that with Free.