MASTERMINDING A MARINELLI MIRACLE: Anticipating the Dallas Cowboys 55th NFL Training Camp | Overcoming historic 2013 defensive struggles | Defensive coordinator faced with restoring faith in America’s Team
IRVING, Texas – Defense … defense … defense.
That will be the Dallas Cowboys battle cry when they land Tuesday (July 22, 2014) at Naval Air Station Point Mugu in Southern California.
Defense … defense … defense.
MEET MARINELLI’S MAULERS: Loss of DeMarcus Ware means relentless waves of Dallas Cowboys rushmen | 2014-2015 defensive trenches outlook | Seventeen DL-men remain | In-depth Analysis
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys report to Oxnard for training camp in a few days (July 22). Several questions center around Rod Marinelli’s 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defense … including:
Where will the pass rush come from after the notable personnel changes this offseason?
COUNTDOWN TO THE OTA’S: Your 2014 Dallas Cowboys top defensive “Wave Rushers” starting to emerge | Dallas Cowboys Organized Team Activities 2014
IRVING, Texas — In my experience of working in personnel offices around the NFL this time of year, as a staff you are working hard to eliminate the unknowns for your squad.
There are always going to be questions whether you have the numbers (see the current Dallas Cowboys roster) and depth to get you through training camp in July and into August. The last thing you want to happen during camp is to get caught short if you have a run of bad luck with injuries.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Monte Kiffin knows Rod Marinelli can give the defense the jolt it needs | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff
IRVING, Texas – When Rod Marinelli thinks of the best thing Monte Kiffin’s done, it’s not the 40-plus years of coaching defense professionally and collegiately or the Super Bowl they shared together in Tampa Bay.
MEET YOUR NEW DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Pro scouting report on veteran DT Amobi Okoye | Dallas Cowboys free agency 2014
Amobi Okoye | Defensive Tackle | Louisville | Height/Weight: 6-2, 292 | Age: 26
Drafted: 1st round, No. 10 overall, 2007 NFL Draft by Houston Texans at age 19
Experience: Houston Texans and Chicago Bears.
Games Studied: 2012 Chicago Bears against: St. Louis, Dallas and Green Bay
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff
Monte Kiffin doesn’t hold the title of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator anymore, but he’s as fired up as ever. Just ask him.
“I’m really excited. I’m really fired up,” Kiffin said. “I’m not down one bit. I’m really not. I can’t coach that way. I wouldn’t stay here. If I didn’t feel right, if I knew I wasn’t going to contribute, and it wasn’t going to be a good situation, I promise you I would have moved on. I like it here. I like the head coach. But Rod Marinelli is the guy.
Kiffin was hired a little over a year ago to oversee the team’s transition from the 3-4 to the Tampa Two 4-3 style (commonly referred to as the Texas-2 Defense on this site).
THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching | Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli: Time For Teaching | 2:54 | Rod Marinelli talks about why it’s an important time for teaching instead of competition. He also talks about where he could envision Tyrone Crawford playing on the defensive line. (Watch | Listen)
Former Marine, and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s not into nursing anyone’s confidence, or lack thereof.
THE MARINELLI CONNECTION: Dallas Cowboys sign former first-round DT Amobi Okoye | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent Amobi Okoye, a former first-round pick in 2007, to a two-year deal.
Okoye could possibly give the Cowboys some help at defensive tackle if he can get healthy, something that has been a challenge for the former No. 10 overall pick of the Texans in 2007.
Okoye, born in Nigeria, was drafted when he was just 19 years old. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound tackle became the youngest player to start an NFL game since 1967.
Okoye reunites with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached him two years in Chicago from 2011-12.
Still just 26 years of age, Okoye will likely play the 3-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 scheme.
“We like a lot of things about him. He’s a young player coming out of (Louisville),” Jason Garrett said of Okoye.”He has a lot of talent. Rod was around him in Chicago so we know him well. We think that’s a positive thing. He’s had some health issues the last year … we feel like he has a chance to be a contributor on the line.”
In four years with the Texans, Okoye started 58 of 62 games. He played 25 games in two years with the Chicago Bears but only started once. Out of football in 2013, Okoye might have some position flex at tackle.
“We feel like he has the move to play (3-technique) but he can certainly play the nose,” Garrett said. “We’re not going to rush him into anything. But it’s good to have him in here.”
To make room for Okoye’s spot, the Dallas Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Stewart, who spent time on the practice squad last year.
MEET YOUR NEW DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Pro scouting report on DT Henry Melton | Tuning up Marinelli’s Motor | Dallas Cowboys free agency 2014
Henry Melton | Defensive Tackle | Texas | Height/Weight: 6-3, 295
Drafted: Fourth round, No. 101 overall, 2009 NFL Draft by Chicago
Games Studied: 2013: Cincinnati, Minnesota 2012: Dallas, Houston, San Francisco
Melton was a much better player in his 2012 film than he was in 2013. He didn’t show the same explosive quickness and get-off that he did two seasons ago. Under Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator, he was on the move more, and this is where Melton thrives. When he can get on the outside shoulder of the guard and attack the gap, he can be difficult to block. Before his knee injury against the Steelers in 2013, you didn’t see this type of use in the scheme. He played slow and sluggish.
Simply put, he didn’t even look like the same player. There were too many snaps where he didn’t come off the ball, and where he put that pressure on the blocker. There were times where he was washed out of the play, knocked to the ground and was a non-factor.
When Melton is really on a roll, you can see blockers have to reach for him to try and block. He can put them in bad positions with just his first step. He’ll make blockers overextend and lose their balance. He has a feel for how to make himself small when he is on the move in the pass rush.
He’s one of those players you want to play line games with because of this ability. The second you get him a little space, he is tight to pick and around the edge. In 2012, he had a sack against the Dallas Cowboys in that exact situation.
This is one of those defensive tackles that can throw pass-rush moves as he is going up the field. He makes a quick arm-over move and then he is gone. He’s slippery when working toward and through the hole. He’s also a really nice space player, and he can change directions with the best of them.
The tape also shows that Melton’s lateral movement and quickness are outstanding. If the ball goes away from him, can really flatten down the line and chase after it. He makes it hard for blockers to keep up with him, and he shows the ability to beat the reach block with his quickness. In that sense, he does a nice job of reading blocks on the move.
If there’s one big problem to his game, it’s when he gets caught rushing down the middle of the blocker and he gets stuck. Where blockers have success against him is when they can get him to stop his feet –then he gets in a bind. Movement is such a big part of his game, it’s hard for him to get going again once he stops.
This happened to him more in 2013 than 2012. He’s not the type of player who plays with the power to beat double team blocks. He will extend his hands, but he’s not going to be able to stand in there toe-to-toe with blockers and slug it out.
Where he might get in trouble is when he tries to jump around blocks and he will leave holes.
It was amazing how different Melton’s film was between the two seasons. In talking with him on Wednesday, he spoke about Rod Marinelli working with him to get himself right again, so even in his own mind, he knows that he was a better player and that is the level he needs to play at for this to all work.
RELATED: Henry Melton eager to become the motor that drives Marinelli’s defense
IRVING, Texas – From the time it became clear the Dallas Cowboys might need a new three-technique defensive tackle, Henry Melton seemed like a logical option.
The Chicago Bears Pro Bowler was a free agent, was coming off an ACL injury and he was from the Dallas area – it made sense. But perhaps Melton’s most-discussed tie to the Cowboys was his relationship with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Melton enjoyed the best seasons of his career under Marinelli’s watch in Chicago, posting a combined 13 sacks in 2011 and 2012 and earning his only trip to the Pro Bowl.
It’s one thing to suppose the Dallas-area native would want to reunite with his old coach – it’s another thing to hear it from the man himself.
“Once I reconnected with Rod – he did some good recruiting. It was a pretty easy decision,” Melton said.
One need only look at the Cowboys’ roster to see why Marinelli was so set on reuniting with his former star. Jason Hatcher signed a free agent deal that left the Cowboys without those 11 sacks and it left them without a true three-technique defensive tackle.
In Marinelli’s system, the three-technique is referred to by many as the motor that drives the defense – a crucial element of the pass rush. Melton’s familiar with the role, and he said he’s ready to take it on once again.
“I’m familiar with the system, I know what it demands and they want me to be the guy. I’m accepting the position,” he said.
Who Melton will line up with is still a matter of some speculation. The Cowboys have now replaced one Pro Bowl defensive tackle with another, but there’s still the absence of All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware to consider.
Dallas signed journeymen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to free agent deals last week, and Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass are set to return from injury in 2014. Two of last season’s starters, Nick Hayden and George Selvie, also return. But it remains to be seen how all of those pieces, including potential draft picks, will translate to a productive defensive line.
That didn’t seem to faze Melton, however, who said he’s eager to embrace the challenge – starting with a return to his Pro Bowl form from 2012.
“I think if I’m dominant and playing the way I know I can, and Rod gets me right and the defense is flying around, this team is really close to doing something special,” Melton said.
If there was any doubt about Melton’s excitement about the reunion, his conversation gives it away. The University of Texas standout mentioned Marinelli at nearly every turn, even allowing that he went to dinner with Marinelli on Monday night, the day before he and the Cowboys agreed to terms.
“He’s tough on you, but the thing about Rod is he cares about you as a person,” Melton said. “He wants to see you succeed, and you can sense that about him. I’m just happy to be here and work with him.”
The expectation is Melton will be healthy and ready to go when the Dallas Cowboys report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Having Marinelli alongside to push him can only raise those expectations higher.
“It gives me great confidence,” Melton said. “I know what the position demands, I know what the schemes are and I know Rod – how demanding he is. It’s going to be fun.”
ROD MARINELLI WANTS YOU: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator helps land free agent Henry Melton
IRVING, Texas – In Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys believe they have one of the best coaches in the NFL.
It appears he might be a pretty good recruiter, too.
The Cowboys’ ability to land free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton was a lot about the contract, a lot about Melton possibly wanting to play at home, and a lot about Marinelli.
“I’m excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form,” Melton told Calvin Watkins.
Melton developed into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle under Marinelli with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12. Melton had 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl after a six-sack season in 2012. He also had 71 tackles and nine tackles for loss with Marinelli as his mentor.
He might talk softly, but Marinelli has a way of forging relationships with defensive linemen. He did it with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did it with Melton and Julius Peppers with the Bears. He did it with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were forced to use 20 defensive linemen in 2013 and were one game away from making the playoffs. Marinelli was able to make it work to a certain degree with guys such as George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Jarius Wynn, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse.
He never had Jay Ratliff or Tyrone Crawford. He had Anthony Spencer for 34 snaps in one game. He was without Ware for three games and Hatcher for one.
Melton becomes the third defensive linemen to join the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain signed with the Cowboys last week.
Mincey was coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars by Joe Cullen, who coached under Marinelli with the Detroit Lions.
“Genuine and a believer,” Mincey said last week. “He believes in what I believe: Going out there and giving your all and trusting the process and seeing what happens. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a bunch of guys who are hungry, who are dedicated and motivated for a larger purpose.”
The job is not over. The Dallas Cowboys concluded a visit with Jared Allen today and the veteran could be the next one added to the Marinelli mix.
POINT AND COUNTERPOINT: DC Marinelli vs. OC Linehan – Debating which coaching change will impact the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys the most
IRVING, Texas – For some, it can still be an issue deciphering the specific roles of each coach after the various offseason changes, but it’s no issue picking out the most impactful move.
That is, without question, the move to make Rod Marinelli the defensive coordinator.
Dallas Cowboys officials can say whatever they want about Monte Kiffin’s new position by adding the title of assistant head coach, but the reality is Marinelli’s now in charge of the defense. It’s a switch that should help change the course of next season more significantly than any other coaching move.
For starters, Marinelli won’t need to do much to at least improve the defense from where it was at last year as the NFL’s worst total defense, allowing 415 yards per game. No other NFL team allowed even 400 yards per game.
In addition to earning the unwavering faith of all the many linemen who cycled in through Dallas last season, Marinelli also experienced recent success as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.
The Bears finished as the No. 5 total defense in Marinelli’s final season as the defensive coordinator for Chicago in 2012. Throughout Marinelli’s tenure, that defense had a penchant for pressure and takeaways. The Bears ranked in the top 10 in sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles in Marinelli’s final season as coordinator.
Since arriving as the defensive line coach last season, he’s preached the importance of finishing. A sack is not enough to Marinelli. He wants the ball to pop out and for his linemen to be athletic enough to take that to the house. He’ll now get to preach the same objective to a wider audience on defense.
The Bears led the league with 24 interceptions in his final season in Chicago, returning eight of them for touchdowns. Chicago also ranked in the top 10 in total defense two out of three times during Marinelli’s three years as coordinator.
Now, this is a different team he’s dealing with. His personnel in Chicago undoubtedly played a role in those numbers. But Marinelli’s recent past gives reason to believe this defense has a better chance to succeed under his tutelage, and no one would have scoffed had this changed been made last season. Any marginal change will be an improvement from finishing last in the league, but he gives the Cowboys the potential to be better than just “not the worst.”
On the other side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys realigned a coach (Bill Callahan) who’s now still on the staff and part of the game-planning process on offense while adding to the mix a new play-caller (Scott Linehan) and voice for the offense with new terminology.
Last year, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it was his intention for Jason Garrett to be significantly less involved on offense before circumstances changed the original plan. Will that happen again if the offense is out of sync early on as it adjusts to Scott Linehan’s offense?
The decision to make Marinelli the defensive coordinator is the major move everyone was waiting for, and it’s the move that will make the most impact among the various changes that occurred to the coaching staff this offseason.
It makes sense for the focus of this offseason to rest squarely on the Dallas Cowboys defense.
We’re talking about a unit that finished last in the NFL and was the worst in franchise history. The Cowboys surrendered 500 and 600 yard days, 40 and 50-point totals and first downs galore in 2013; in 2014, they changed their defensive coordinator from Monte Kiffin to Rod Marinelli.
All eyes will be on how the defense improves, and it will certainly have to if the Dallas Cowboys are going to compete for anything meaningful. For the money, though, the real improvement comes on offense, which is also under new management in the form of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
The story is well-known by now: Jason Garrett brought in an old colleague in Linehan – someone with similar offensive philosophies to himself – to oversee the passing game and manage play calling duties in place of Bill Callahan.
Both Marinelli and Linehan have had their share of success at these positions before. Chicago led the league in turnovers and finished fifth in total defense under Marinelli’s supervision in 2012. With Linehan serving as offensive coordinator, Detroit finished sixth, third and fifth in total offense in the past three seasons.
Take a look at who each coordinator is working with for your answer about which unit will look better in 2014. The defense could possibly lose Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, and there is the ever-present question about whether DeMarcus Ware returns – or how well he’ll play if he does. The secondary remains a question mark, particularly at safety, and the linebacker corps appears unsettled – its lone constant, Sean Lee, is once again returning from injury.
Yes, it’s likely that Marinelli will have some new draft picks to work with, and there’s no telling what free agency could bring. As much as that might help, though, any rookie contributions would have to be substantial to bolster the Dallas Cowboys standing that much.
Meanwhile, this Dallas offense – which finished a surprisingly mediocre 16th in total offense – returns four of the team’s five Pro Bowlers from 2013. The Cowboys have 2013 Pro Bowlers at wide receiver, left tackle, tight end, and running back. Although not an award winner last season, Tony Romo has a few accolades of his own.
Everyone knows the gaudy numbers Linehan was able to put up with Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford in Detroit, and that can only benefit Romo and Dez Bryant. Similarly, it should open up opportunities for Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, and even Cole Beasley to get more involved.
And take a look at the Lions’ 2013 rushing totals before you worry about DeMarco Murray’s production. Murray is coming off his first 1,000 yard season and his first Pro Bowl nod, and the Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly want to continue that momentum.
Fortunately, 2013 saw Reggie Bush manage just the second 1,000-yard season of his career under Linehan in Detroit. The Lions offense also produced a 650-yard, eight-touchdown effort from backup Joique Bell. The two backs weren’t exactly slouches in the passing game, either. Bell caught 53 balls for 547 yards, while Bush nabbed 54 for 506.
The Dallas Cowboys managed basically no production from the running backs behind Murray. If you’re a fan of Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle, the addition of Linehan can only mean good things.
None of that accounts for an offensive line that may finally be considered a strength of this team. Anchored by Tyron Smith and bolstered by the addition of Travis Frederick, the Dallas offensive line caught fire in the second half of 2013.
So it’s not as if I think Linehan is a better coach than Marinelli, and I’m also not saying Marinelli can’t improve this defense. I don’t think there’s any argument Linehan has more to work with, though, and that should show when the offense returns to its more explosive ways.
NEW TWIST ON TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Rod Marinelli excited about his new role as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
INDIANAPOLIS – Rod Marinelli finds himself back in a similar spot, just with a different team.
The former Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach is now also the defensive coordinator. It’s a change he’s both familiar with and excited about, going back to the role same role he had in his previous stop in Chicago.
“I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s all football,” Marinelli said. “I’m excited about the whole thing.”
The promotion for Marinelli, who’s now in charge of the whole defense, likely means an increased role for assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett. Marinelli said he feels like Lett has grown tremendously in their year together, and he believes both Lett and Ben Bloom’s help on the line will alleviate his workload.
He also said a year under his belt in Dallas will help “big time” as he prepares for his new role.
“You’ve kind of got things in place, I think, for the most part,” Marinelli said. “Now you’ve just got to make corrections and add some people and kind of go from there.”
The first place he said he’ll look for help is on the front seven. Given that the Dallas Cowboys probably won’t have much room to add key pieces via free agency given their cap situation, it’s likely Marinelli will look to the NFL Draft to try to get that done.
“We’ve always got to look at the front seven, that kind of drives the whole thing for us,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to add some pieces. I like some of the guys still that were injured last year, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass, some of these other guys.”
Crawford figured to be a key piece in the defensive line rotation last year, but he ended up being the first casualty of camp and the first in a snowball effect of defensive linemen going down the rest of the year.
Marinelli said he has to see how Crawford moves coming off his injury before deciding what position the defensive lineman will play, but he still thinks Crawford has the ability to move inside or outside. It wasn’t long after Crawford’s injury that the Cowboys found out they’d lose both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff the rest of the year, forcing them to cycle new linemen on and off the team.
The new defensive coordinator said he tries to look at the positive of every situation, even when it’s not always apparent.
“You have a chance to maybe really become a better teacher through the season,” Marinelli said. “It forces you to really be on the details every week, because you miss things. It’s easy to miss something when you get a guy in on Tuesday and you’ve got to get him ready for Sunday, how to condense your menu, all those things. I kind of looked at that as a positive, and I think we found a couple guys that might be able to help us continually, like George Selvie and Nick Hayden and some of those guys.”
While his focus was on the defensive line, Marinelli still had a chance to speak to and coach other players throughout the season. He said he loves talking to and teaching players, regardless of position, which should help him as he prepares for his more expansive role.
But Marinelli said mentor Monte Kiffin will still be around, helping every step of the way.
“He’ll be in there every day with us, film, working, drills, all of those things,” Marinelli said. “He’s a tremendous resource and a great coach. I’ve got great respect for him.”
It’s important to Marinelli that he’s as detailed and exact as possible in what he’s teaching over and over again to ensure his players know what he demands. When he looks back to last year’s struggles, he said it’s all about the coach and player relationship and execution, and that everyone’s involved in the team’s success, or lack thereof.
He said another year with the roster and adding more pieces will help the defense. The Cowboys likely won’t be major players in free agency this year, but Marinelli still believes management will bring in enough pieces. He said he’s not concerned with the cap, and he’s more concerned with improving whatever he’s got.
“With me, it all goes back to fundamentals,” he said. “That’s kind of always been my base, and just getting guys to do things right and coaches got to work extremely hard. You’ve got to get more takeaways, those types of things.”
VALLEY RANCH RESTRUCTURED: Expect Dallas Cowboys coaching changes to bring aggressive, attacking style on both sides of the ball
Here’s what to expect from the 2014 restructuring of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff:
The differences with Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator
Many so-called experts believed that the switch to this 4-3 defense was going to be good for all the pieces that Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett had on this roster.
Nothing against George Selvie, Nick Hayden and what appeared to be the cast of thousands that played along the defensive line this past season. They were not what these defensive coaches believed they had before they went to Oxnard. Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett were outstanding in what they were able to do with the group that Jones and Will McClay assembled.
What you will see from Marinelli that you didn’t see from Monte Kiffin is playing more to the strengths of your personnel. Marinelli and the other coaches were not going to step on the toes of Kiffin and what he wanted to do scheme wise, that just was not their style.
You will see a more aggressive approach from Marinelli when it comes to attacking offenses. His defenses while he was with the Bears, were this way. His front seven played a huge role in how he called the game. You will still see some two deep schemes but you will see even more of the single high packages that they went to in the second half of the season in Dallas. Kiffin was more willing to sit there and play sound than he was to come after an offense. This is where Rod Marinelli was be totally different.
Changes with Scott Linehan as the new offensive play caller
The hiring of Scott Linehan as the offensive player caller for the Dallas Cowboys did catch many by surprise. Once Jason Garrett came out after the bye week and said that he would be the coach relaying the play call to Tony Romo, it signaled the end of Bill Callahan in that role.
At that point, some believed Garrett was coaching for his job and by taking over that role, he was trying to save it.
What Linehan can bring to the table is a scheme that will get Dez Bryant even more involved in the offense. During his NFL career, Linehan has made it a point to make the “X” receiver the focus of the passing game. We all witnessed firsthand what Calvin Johnson was able to accomplish with Linehan as the play caller.
What Garrett and Callahan were able to do later last season was move Bryant around to create some matchup opportunities which Linehan should build on. There were times during the Lions games where you observed Johnson playing out of the slot and with effectiveness.
We should also appreciate what Linehan was able to do with Reggie Bush in the backfield. There were creative ideas of where to line him up and how to get him the ball in space. That’s not to say that Lance Dunbar is Reggie Bush but the thought of what he can do with a loose-play running back is inviting.
Scott Linehan has moved the ball wherever he has coached and with this offense at key positions, he should once again have that opportunity.
COACHES REALIGNED AND DEFINED: Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett provides insight into 2014 coaching changes
IRVING, Texas – So the Dallas Cowboys will make major staff changes after all, especially on defense.
Through a press release sent last night, the Cowboys announced several coaching moves, including the switch at defensive coordinator. Rod Marinelli, who served as defensive line coach, will replace Monte Kiffin as the DC. Kiffin has been moved to the assistant head coach/defense. The Cowboys finished with the worst statistical season in franchise history, allowing 415.3 yards per game, the fourth-worst season total in NFL history.
Marinelli served as defensive coordinator in Chicago under Lovie Smith for three seasons. The Bears ranked ninth, seventeenth, and fifth in total defense during his three years.
“Rod’s responsibilities will be those typical for a defensive coordinator,” Garrett said Tuesday evening. “He’ll be the point person on defense all throughout the offseason and game-planning and certainly on game plan when he calls the defense.”
While Kiffin’s role has changed, Garrett said the veteran coach will take on a larger role as the assistant head coach and remains a big part of the team’s transition in defenses.
“Kiff has been such an instrumental piece for us transitioning from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense,” Garrett said. “No better guy than Monte Kiffin to help us do that and spearhead that transition. And that transition continues. He’ll oversee the coaches coach and providing a different perspective than he had last year. He has invaluable experience as our defense continues to grow.”
As for the offense, the Dallas Cowboys officially hired Scott Linehan as the team’s passing game coordinator. Linehan, who coached one season with Garrett in Miami in 2005, will be the third play-caller in three seasons, replacing Bill Callahan in that capacity.
However, Callahan will remain as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. Callahan reportedly has received offers from Baltimore to become the OC and perhaps Cleveland, although the Cowboys decided not to grant those teams permission to interview Callahan, who is under contract another season.
“We’re excited about Scott Linehan,” Garrett said. “He’s one of the best coordinators in this league and has been for a number of years. I had the good fortune of working with him in 2005 in Miami. He was our coordinator and I was the quarterback coach. I worked very closely with him and have a great deal of respect for him. His track record speaks for itself. We think he’s a great addition to our staff.”
The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to having a passing game coordinator. In fact, Garrett said he sees this current setup as very similar to what was in place two seasons ago when Garrett called the plays and Callahan remained the OC and coached the line. Now, Linehan will be the play-caller but will work alongside.
“The roles and responsibilities will be similar to what we had a couple of years ago with Scott being in the role I was in,” Garrett explained. “As passing game coordinator, he will call the plays and work closely with Bill Callahan and the rest of the offensive staff in a role we’re comfortable with. He has a comfort level with our system and the language and terminology of our system. That transition we think will be fairly smooth. The perspective and ideas he brings, we think will be a positive thing for our team.”
While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense. The Lions ranked 17th in rushing as Reggie Bush had 1,006 rushing yards.
Linehan also served as head coach of the Rams from 2006-08, making him the third assistant with NFL head coaching experience along with Marinelli and Callahan.
While there is a natural perception that both Callahan and Kiffin have been demoted, yet remain on staff, Garrett said it will be his responsibility to make sure every coach is on the same page and has the same goal.
“Embracing your role is a critical piece to this,” Garrett said. ”As coaches and players, we do that all the time. We’re excited to get going and build on positive things we’ve done. You’re always trying to build chemistry on your football team. Every day is an opportunity to do that.”
In other coaching staff news, Garrett said Marinelli is expected to oversee the defensive line but Leon Lett and Ben Bloom will also work closely with that position.
COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Veteran Scott Linehan added to Dallas Cowboys coaching staff | Coaches role’s realigned and defined
The Dallas Cowboys elevated Monte Kiffin to position of assistant head coach/defense, elevated Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator, hired Scott Linehan to be passing game coordinator/play-caller, and announced that Bill Callahan will remain as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.
The team made the official announcement in an emailed press release tonight.
It provided this statement from Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:
“Our responsibility is to bring quality people into our organization and find the best fit for them. That applies to players, and it applies to coaches. Rod Marinelli’s production in terms of creating turnovers and changing field position as a defensive coordinator is well documented. Monte Kiffin’s overall knowledge and understanding of this defensive scheme will be put to use in mentoring all of the players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball. Monte was brought here to direct a transition in philosophy to the 4-3 scheme, and he will continue to oversee the development of our defense in this scheme.
“The opportunity to add someone of Scott Linehan’s expertise and experience will benefit our offensive unit, and we believe the combination of him and Bill Callahan working closely together will give us a great chance to build upon the strides we made offensively last year.”
Scott Linehan is a former head coach in the NFL, with the St. Louis Rams in 2006-08, and was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions for the past five seasons. Linehan will take on the role of the Dallas Cowboys offensive play caller for the 2014 season. While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense.
Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach in 2013, was most recently the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith from 2010 to 2012 where the Bears units finished ninth, 17th, and fifth, respectively. In 2012, the Chicago Bears led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (44), and were third in points allowed (17.3 points per game).
DALLAS COWBOYS GAME 13 PRIMER: Chicago Bears preparing to face former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli
IRVING, Texas – Bears coach Marc Trestman had a decision to make when he replaced Lovie Smith in Chicago. For his part, he wanted to retain Rod Marinelli as the team’s defensive coordinator.
It was an understandable decision. The Bears led the league in takeaways in 2012 with 44, and they finished fifth in total defense. Chicago maintained a fearsome reputation on defense during Marinelli’s four-year stay – one season as defensive line coach, and three as defensive coordinator.
But after a talk with Trestman, Marinelli opted to leave.
“I have tremendous respect for Rod, and I’m sure he would tell you that we had a great conversation, Trestman said. “I laid it all out for him and certainly wanted him to stay. We certainly respected his decision to move on.”
That decision may have had more to do with loyalty than any other issue. Marinelli and Smith both got their NFL starts in 1996 for Tampa Bay, under Tony Dungy and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. During the Cowboys’ bye week, Marinelli told reporters he had only gone to Chicago to reunite with his close friend.
“I’ll say this – he is one of my very best friends,” Marinelli said of Smith. “I went there because of him, not for any other reason. We had a long tenure together in Tampa, and I just – I believe in him.”
Marinelli added that he feels similarly about Kiffin, which helps explain why he chose to make his way to Dallas after leaving the Bears in January.
“I just think, for me, that was Lovie’s defense,” he said.
In Dallas, Marinelli’s influence as defensive line coach has been hard to miss. With a constantly rotating cast of characters, he has coaxed the Dallas Cowboys to 28 team sacks, including a career-high nine from Jason Hatcher.
“I have so much respect for him. I’ve said that so many times, but I’ll say it again – he’s a special guy. He’s an icon at what he does” Kiffin said. “He isn’t just a defensive line coach — he was a head coach, he was a coordinator. He can be whatever he wants to be.”
That also includes intangibles, in addition to mechanics. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett praised Marinelli’s ability to teach fundamentals, but he said there’s an extra quality to his expertise.
“He also does a good job of coaching the guys emotionally — where your emotions need to be to play this game at a high level,” Garrett said. “I think he does that in practice, he does that in the game. He’s just an awfully good coach. I’ve learned a lot from him.
None of that is to say the Cowboys are dominating statistically. But it wasn’t lost on Trestman that Dallas is one of the best in the league at creating takeaways – which was Chicago’s specialty under Marinelli.
“Their ability to create turnovers has been their number one asset. They’ve got approximately, what, 25 turnovers right now,” Trestman said. “It’s enabled their offense to play on a short field and help them out at times.”
Marinelli’s role isn’t limited to just defensive line, as Kiffin said. It also isn’t limited to the defensive side of the ball. Marinelli’s three-year stint as a head coach in Detroit, which saw the Lions post the NFL’s only winless campaign, gave the veteran some valuable experience to bring to future staffs.
“He had a tough go in Detroit with the players, and no disrespect to Detroit, but just the whole situation,” Kiffin said. “But this guy – and not just myself — I know the head coach leans on him a lot, too. We all do.”
From one stop to another and on to the Cowboys, that seems fine with Marinelli, who said confidence is key during the highs and lows of a coaching career.
“When I was in Detroit that was a great experience for me, because it’s what I believed in. It didn’t work, but I never lost confidence, I never lost faith – I went to Chicago and kept working,” he said. “If you have a belief and it’s tested, and you crack with that, then it’s not a belief. So you better get a big semi to run over me, and you’d better do it three times.”
Related articles from The Boys Are Back archives:
NO LOVIE IN CHICAGO: Rod Marinelli gave up a chance to be Bears defensive coordinator to reunite with Monte Kiffin
MASTERMINDS REUNITED: Monte Kiffin thrilled to work again with “An Icon” in Rod Marinelli
COACHING ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys sign Rod Marinelli to help teach new defense
AGING KIFFIN ON CAGING GRIFFIN: At 72, this ‘new’ defensive coordinator could bring the ‘Grampa 2 Defense’ to the Dallas Cowboys
PRIDE OF THE TEXAS-2: Once again, Marinelli’s Misfits step up to save the day
ARLINGTON, Texas – Worked out on Monday, signed on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … so naturally Everette Brown had a big sack and forced fumble in the final seconds of Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
Now, Brown didn’t get a turnover, but the play was still a big play to help prevent Minnesota from driving deep in Dallas territory.
Brown, who said his focus was starting up a new Smoothie shop with his fiancée in Charlotte before the Cowboys called him last week, is the latest of several defensive linemen who have rolled through the organization this year.
In fact, if you’re scoring at home, Brown is the 16th defensive linemen to play a snap for the Dallas Cowboys this season. That doesn’t include Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Sean Lissemore, who once figured into the rotational plans for this D-line.
“Every week, it’s a new guy,” said Jason Hatcher, who has been the most consistent and the best lineman so far this year. “But I think they’re coming in and doing a great job of contributing right away. I give them credit and Rod (Marinelli) for getting them ready. They were big again today.”
One of the biggest plays of the game occurred from a trio of defensive linemen who might not have been in the NFL at all had it not been for the Cowboys giving them a shot.
Nick Hayden scored his first career touchdown by falling on a loose fumble in the end zone. George Selvie stripped the ball right before Jarius Wynn blasted Christian Ponder.
“I got him pretty good … it felt good, too,” Wynn said. “But it’s nice to come in here and help this team any way I can. I feel more comfortable now.”
Speaking of comfortable, Hayden looked right at home in the end zone after his first touchdown since his high school days.
Afterward, Hayden displayed what appeared to be a rather rehearsed dance.
“It was me rocking out,” Hayden said. “I just played the air-guitar and then smashed it at the end. It’s something we had talked about before for a sack dance. But I just used it today with my touchdown. I’ve got some other (dances), too, if I ever need them.”
While Hayden is far from the new guy anymore, he was also one of the players back in training camp just trying to revive his career.
“This group … we’re relentless,” Hayden said. “We’ve got new guys coming in each week, but they’ve been stepping up for us. It’s been great. We just try to learn from Coach Marinelli. He’s done a great job with us. We just keep playing for him.”
|George Selvie end zone strip and Nick Hayden recovery for TD replay||Locker room comments from Marinelli’s Misfits and Sean Lee|
|Watch Video | No Audio||Watch Video | Play Audio|
DALLAS COWBOYS RISING STAR: Marinelli Misfit George Selvie making a name for himself in Texas-2 Defense
IRVING, Texas – You know that half-a-sack George Selvie was credited with this past Sunday in Philadelphia, the one he shared with the just-arriving Jarius Wynn?
Well, upon further review, Selvie was credited with a full sack. That then officially gave him two sacks in the game.
In turn, that now gives him five sacks in seven games.
Let that sink in: George Selvie, now officially the leader of “Them Other Guys,” is second on the Dallas Cowboys in sacks, just one behind Jason Hatcher, who’s having a Pro Bowl start to this 2013 season.
Why, Selvie has one more sack than DeMarcus Ware, at this point likely to miss his second game in a row Sunday after having played in every one of the first 134 of his career.
Those five Selvie sacks, they would have been the third most on last year’s Dallas Cowboys team – for the entire season.
Five sacks. Until last year that total was just one less than Anthony Spencer’s career-high over his first five years in the NFL, and until this year one more than Hatcher’s previous seven-year career-high.
Five sacks. Just one less than the team’s previous high by a player not named DeMarcus Ware from 2009-2011, and just three less than what Greg Ellis and Bradie James posted in 2008.
And on July 25, three months to the day this Friday, with all 32 NFL training camps in full swing, this very guy, George Selvie, was sitting at home in Pensacola, Fla., out of work, having been released by Tampa Bay back on May 6.
He had just turned 26, released for the fourth time since he was a seventh-round pick in 2010 out of South Florida, and his mind was understandably beginning to wonder, “What do I do now? What do I do after football?”
Please don’t pinch the dude. Let him be.
Selvie, the guy who had never started even once over his 36-game NFL career the previous three seasons – drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2010, released on the final cuts of 2011, claimed by Carolina only to be released four weeks later, then signed by Jacksonville five weeks later, playing 16 games over two seasons with the Jaguars before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and signed a month later by Tampa Bay this offseason – now is tied for 12thin the NFL with those five sacks. He’s in the same company with the likes of Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, LaMarr Woodley and a half-sack behind Elvis Dumervil.
To further appreciate what Selvie has done so far this 2013 Dallas Cowboys season, a flashback to this summer is necessary, back to when the Dallas Cowboys called, more so out of necessity. Remember, the Cowboys lost Tyrone Crawford for the season the first practice of training camp (torn Achilles) with Spencer having his knee scoped about a week later.
They were simply looking for warm bodies at that time, defensive end types who were athletic, had high motors, could play the strong side, all with a decent amount of speed and … out of work. The list of candidates Will McClay’s pro scouting department had handy kicked out one George Selvie.
“I was coming to training camp like, they probably just think of me as a [camp] body,” said Selvie during his interview this week that can be heard in its entirety on the Jason Garrett Show, locally at 11 p.m. Saturday on CBS-11. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
Understand, camp body is a derogatory term, meaning a guy simply needed to fill out the 80-man roster and help facilitate training camp practices at minimum wage then discarded before the final 53 is assembled. The percentages are against these guys, especially coming into camp a week late, with no OTA practices or minicamps under their belt.
And in Selvie’s mind on his way to the West Coast, this just might be his last call.
“I’m going to go out here and try to prove myself,” he said of his thinking when getting the call and traveling all the way from Pensacola that same day to Oxnard, Calif., jumping into practice the very next day. And stuff just fell in place.
“I was blessed to be in the situation I’m in now, just fell in place for me – but I am where I am.”
Fell in place? More like crashed down in place. Ten days after arriving in Oxnard, Selvie demonstrated he was more than a camp body in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game, recording five tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two tackles for losses against Miami.
Come on, was this for real or one of those one-time wonders?
Judging from emails and phone calls to Talkin’ Cowboys, fans would have just as soon left Selvie in Canton, Ohio, to be measured for his yellow jacket. There actually were questions about the possibility of trading Spencer. Just let Selvie take his place and grab $10.6 million in cap relief.
So there we were, on the tennis courts at training camp, interviewing Selvie on Talkin’ Cowboys, letting him know of his new-found celebrity, but quickly finding out, as Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett likes to say, he is the right kind of guy.
“It’s just been crazy,” he said at the time, “because Twitter and stuff. I was like, got my phone, ‘I don’t want no part of that.’ I got a lot to do, you know what I’m sayin’, I got a lot to do.
“People are like, ‘Great start …’ but I still got … look I know the feeling.”
And he then began earning his eventual nickname coined by defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who Selvie readily credits for much of his success: Bricklayer. You know, come to work every day, work hard and lay those bricks down one at a time.
And yes, things fell in place. Obviously, Crawford was done for the season. Spencer was on his way to being done for the season. Ben Bass, a guy who could play defensive tackle, defensive end, was headed for injured reserve, too. Suddenly, he looked up one day and basically when it came to defensive ends, it was DeMarcus Ware, Kyle Wilber and … George Selvie.
Man, after never starting in any of those first 36 games he played in the NFL, there he was, under the glare of Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium, starting. Starting, mind you, for the first time in his career, no more than six weeks removed from wondering just what he would be doing for the rest of his life.
Nearly two months later and now Selvie is a fixture in the Dallas Cowboys lineup, having started all seven games and now standing second on the team in sacks, tied for second in tackles for losses (3) and third in quarterback pressures (11) behind some guys named Ware and Hatcher.
Meteoric rise would be an understatement, and not likely in his wildest dreams …
“No, I couldn’t have imagined it,” says Selvie when thinking back to those lonely moments in Pensacola, having trudged back home after Tampa Bay released him to contemplate his future.
“But this is the best football I’ve played, the stats show those are the facts, and I’ve had the opportunity to go out there and play, rush the passers, actually get out there on the field. I never had that [opportunity] in the past, but now I do.”
And aren’t the Dallas Cowboys darn glad he does, too.
So don’t even think about it, no pinching allowed.
George Selvie 1-on-1 interview with Mickey Spagnola (3:10)
Mickey Spagnola sits down for a 1-on-1 interview with Dallas Cowboys DE George Selvie.
NUMBER 90 REBRANDING: Cowboys DT Marvin Austin assigned Jay Ratliff’s locker and his jersey number
Jay Ratliff left the building only a week before his No. 90 and his locker went to another defensive tackle. Marvin Austin has taken over both after the Dallas Cowboys signed him Tuesday.
Austin spent two seasons with the Giants after they made him a second-round pick in 2011. He spent two games with the Dolphins this season before his release Oct. 15.
“It’s definitely a new beginning and a lot to build on,” Austin said.
Austin, listed at 6 foot 2, 312 pounds, still was pouring with sweat a half hour after practice. He admits he is not in football shape.
“Not good enough,” Austin said. “To be honest with you just the way they practice and the way they want you to go out there and play, I’ve got to keep working every day to get in shape to go out there and perform.”
Austin hopes defensive line coach Rod Marinelli can work the same magic with him as Marinelli has with several no names along the defensive line.
“His record speaks for itself and coach [Monte] Kiffin also,” Austin said. “The way that those guys coach, and the success they’ve had in this league, I have no excuses.”
IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE: Jason Garrett likes the passion of the defensive line coach Rod Marinelli
Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli apologized moments after getting a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, coach Jason Garrett said.
“He’s a stand-up guy,” Garrett said. “As soon as the flag happened, he turned to me and apologized. But if everybody brings it like Rod Marinelli brings it, we’ve got a really good chance of being a good football team.”
The penalty gave Washington a first down after Jason Hatcher’s sack would have set up second-and-20. Initially, the play was ruled an incompletion, but a replay reversed the call. Marinelli had argued that the quarterback was down.
Garrett described what happened like this:
“He had a short conversation with the official on the play that Hatcher got the sack,” Garrett said. “I think initially, they ruled it that the quarterback had thrown the ball away, and I think we all saw that his knee was down, and I think Rod was just trying to let the official know that, and I guess the official didn’t like how he said it.”
Hatcher laughed about it Monday.
“We got him on a grade sheet. I think he got an F today for that penalty,” he said. “He fought for my sack, so I got a sack. That’s my fifth one of the season. I thank him for that.”
TEXAS 2 SCOUTING REPORT: A closer look at your newest Dallas Cowboy–DE Jarius Wynn
A few thoughts from film study of defensive end Jarius Wynn, who the Dallas Cowboys added to their roster. Wynn played five games for San Diego this season before making his way to Dallas.
Jarius Wynn DT / DE 6-3 285 Georgia 5th Season
Games studied: San Diego vs. Dallas, Oakland, Philadelphia, Tennessee
- Wynn played both tackle and end in the Chargers’ 3-4 scheme, and he will see action at both spots for the Dallas Cowboys.
- He has a long, rangy build and plays with more strength than quickness, and he can hold the point of attack.
- Gets some push from the inside, had a nice sack by using power against Todd Herremans of the Eagles, who could not handle his movement down inside. He was able to finish the play on Michael Vick.
- Can work down the line and hold up blockers, but he needs to do a better job getting rid of those blockers quicker. Tends to get stuck.
- There were times where he tried to use counter moves as a pass rusher, and he had some success. But it needs to work more often.
- Wynn has used a quick swim move to free himself against Raiders and later against the Titans, along with a swat move as well that helped him in his rush.
- When he does free himself, he has a burst to chase the ball. His effort is good when trying to finish the play. Not a lazy player.
- Plays with power but, but I don’t like when he rushes down the middle. Brian Waters stoned him a couple of times on his rush in the San Diego game, and he was very unproductive.
- He will work to extend his arms to attempt to control his blocker, but he needs to use his hands quicker to get rid of that man.
- I was surprised he was able to hang in there taking on blocks, because he plays with a narrow base.
- I thought he was better when he was able to rush off the edge and try to get to the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. He played with more quickness on the edge, whereas inside, it was more about power.
- Did not see much quick redirection in his game, but his effort is really good when it comes to chasing the ball.
The bottom line is that Wynn will give the defense some flexibility at two spots, but I would like to see if Rod Marinelli can get him to play with more quickness off the ball. The Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme could allow him to be better in that regard.
DALLAS PUP RECOVERING: Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff rehab continues to linger
The Dallas Cowboys are holding out hope Jay Ratliff will be on the field at some point this year, but there’s still no set date for the defensive tackle’s return.
Ratliff may not be ready to play when he’s eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list next week. He’s also not rehabbing with the Dallas Cowboys, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Jones told 105.3 FM “The Fan” that Ratliff has “had his frustrations in terms of his medical situation,” and the Cowboys gave him the opportunity to explore different avenues in his rehab, though the team didn’t prefer it.
“This is rare, but we felt like if it mentally helped him and gave him a better chance to get back to where he thinks he needs to be, we were up for him doing that,” Jones said. “As far as knowing where he is, we get reports daily and understand how he’s progressing, so we’re aware of what’s going on.”
Ratliff only played in six games last season before getting sports hernia surgery at the end of the year. He injured his hamstring during the conditioning test at the beginning of training camp this year and hasn’t played since.
“Any time you reward a player, you hope he plays at a high level,” Jones said. “Any time it doesn’t work out, it’s frustrating, obviously. But that’s a part of the business we’re in.
“I’m sure Jay wishes it were different. I know we wish it was different. We could use him, but that’s not the way it is.”
Editors comment: Monte Kiffin’s Texas-2 Defense was predicated on having both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff in the rotation. As you know, Spencer is out for the rest of the season and Ratliff has had lingering issues for months. Dallas Cowboys DL coach Rod Marinelli has managed to make the best of a bad situation. Let’s hope we see Ratliff in the rotation at some point in the 2013-2014 season. The standout still needs to get into ‘football shape” before Jason Garrett can put him on the field. Doesn’t look like Dallas will have this dog in the fight anytime soon.
EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Week #4-2013 Dallas Cowboys @ San Diego Chargers
Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” was pretty much dead-on with his predictions.
Last weeks win over the ‘other’ Missouri team gives us die-hard Cowboys fans (and Demarco Murray) reason to celebrate. We’ve seen the sudden emergence of a running game and a havoc causing Texas-2 defense coming into their own identity. Today’s game in San Diego should feel like a Dallas Cowboys home game with the heavy fan base in sunny Southern California. Bruised Romo should be in better shape this week. While Miles Austin sits on the bench with his hamstring, Jason Garrett will ask next-men-up Terrence Williams, Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley to take up the slack. In the trenches, right guard Brian Waters is expected to start … and Mackenzy Bernadeau will be suited up as backup for both guard positions. The Dallas front-four will be without Anthony Spencer for the remainder of the 2013-2014 NFL season … but, Marinelli’s hungry linemen have shown they are up to the task through the first three games.
The GREAT Robbini is psyched about the Cowboys – Chargers incoming vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. OK, here we go …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys week #4 predictions:
Cowboys set up shop in San Diego, Qualcomm stadium looks like ‘home away from home’
The Dallas Cowboys, on a mission to fuel up their game before hosting “unstoppable” Denver, get behind the wheel in Norv’s old town. They’ll head back to Big D, with plenty in the tank and a ‘W’ in the trunk. Expect a high octane performances from Dez, Demarco, TE group and Kiffin’s boys.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- 3 takeaways
- DeMarcus Ware 3 sacks
- J.J. Wilcox 1 sack
- Brandon Carr INT
- Jason Hatcher 2 sacks
- 6 team sacks
- Carter/Wilcox lead tackles
- 1 San Diego Charger injured
Predictions for the offense …
- Tony Romo 300 yards, 4 TDs
- Dez Bryant 75 yards, 2 TDs
- Williams 50 yards
- Beasley 30 yards
- Jason Witten 65 yards, TD
- Gavin Escobar 30 yards, TD
- James Hanna 15 yards
- Demarco Murray TD
- Rushing committee 150 yards
- Offensive line 3 penalties
- Cowboys receive opening kick
- Offense starts game with possession
- Cowboys control time of possession
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for week #4. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
EVALUATING THE TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli coaching havoc and reaping rewards
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are getting exactly what they want out of their new defensive coaching additions, while the defensive mind they let go is excelling elsewhere. Consider that a win through three weeks for both parties.
The Dallas defense resides in the top 10 in the league in sacks and takeaways led by new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, while the coordinator the Cowboys let go has shifted New Orleans’ putrid defense of last year to the No. 5 total defense in the NFL this season.
In the minds of some, former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn’t do a lousy job in Dallas last year. Fact remains, the Cowboys weren’t happy with the lack of pressure and thought they should upgrade.
The front office (Jerry Jones) stressed an emphasis on takeaways after creating just 16 all of last season. They now have seven through three games with Kiffin and Marinelli, due in large part to the havoc created by the defensive line, as the Cowboys sit atop the NFC with 13 sacks. They’re also tied for sixth in turnover differential at plus-3 with a top-10 scoring defense.
Kiffin and Marinelli insisted they didn’t need a defensive lineman in the draft to conjure the kind of pressure they needed on their defense. Even without Jay Ratliff or Anthony Spencer, they’ve been exactly right. DeMarcus Ware is back to his old form and the switch to defensive end may even help him reach the quarterback more often.
The defensive coaches continue to get elite play at defensive tackle out of Jason Hatcher, who’s tallied a sack in each of the team’s first three games, while turning Nick Hayden and George Selvie into legitimate starters.
Selvie said he feels he has a coach in Marinelli who believes in him, and that coach is getting the best out of his group. It’s obvious, and head coach Jason Garrett sees the same thing.
“He’s just an excellent football coach and teaching is a big part of that, inspiring is a big part of that, seeing the real positive traits in people and getting them into situations where they can be successful,” Garrett said. “(Marinelli) helps them be successful by how he teaches them technically, how he teaches them physically, how he teaches them emotionally.”
The Cowboys’ three interceptions may not seem like much, but that’s three times as many as they had through three weeks with Rob Ryan last season.
The colorful, boisterous defensive mind has to be a revered character in New Orleans, demonstrating his worth by changing the culture of the Saints’ defense. New Orleans allowed 440.1 yards per game and 28.4 points per game last season, and those numbers are down to 295.7 yards per game and 12.7 points per game so far.
Both sides are getting exactly what they wanted by fixing the problems of the past. It’s a small sample size, but the Cowboys and Saints are reaping every benefit they could have hoped for with their offseason defensive changes.
This should create quite a buzz (and another comparison) going into week 10 …
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