New Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Coach Rod Marinelli Has Right Mentality

By Jake Carapella
Rod Marinelli
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Rod Marinelli is wasting no time in getting down to business as the new defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Marinelli has added a twist to the defensive-line label of the Cowboys’ front and labeled them “Rushmen” — pointing out that the first and primary job of a defensive line is to get to the passer. Speaking with, Marinelli said earlier this week that it is important for his linemen to understand their first responsibility, rushing the quarterback.

This is a refreshing mentality that is sorely needed on a Cowboys staff that, for the most part, lacks an aggressive, intense mentality. Rob Ryan brought that, but that didn’t necessarily translate into on field success, as his defense was caught out of sorts on many plays, guys repeatedly not knowing where to line up. Most of the fire that Ryan brought could be seen leaving his mouth in a frequent barrage of curse words. Jason Garrett, as everybody knows, chooses to take a most positive approach to the field, encouraging players even in times where they make game-changing errors. To be clear, that is not a bad thing. But it is when everyone else on the staff has that mentality.

Hopefully, Marinelli can change that.

He is perhaps most famously known as the head coach of the winless Detroit Lions in 2008. But before that, he was with Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spearheading a tremendously talented, Super Bowl winning defensive line led by Warren Sapp. And most recently, he was the Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons – a defense that last season led the NFL in takeaways with 44 and takeaway/giveaway differential with a difference of plus 20.

Marinelli joins the Cowboys’ defensive staff as the team transitions into Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme from Ryan’s 3-4. His familiarity with the system will no doubt aid the Cowboys’ linemen, and hopefully he can revive a pass rush that really, for the last few years, has consisted of DeMarcus Ware and no one else – aside from Anthony Spencer’s solid 2009 and 2012 campaigns.

Marinelli definitely has a mentality that is needed on this Cowboys’ staff. His desire to come in right away at his first Cowboys’ practice and set a tone is a welcome sight.

We know Ware and Spencer bring that mentality. Hopefully the rest of the “Rushmen” can too.


Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for Follow him on Twitter @JKCSports1, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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