The release of DeMarcus Ware left the Dallas Cowboys with one of the thinnest defensive lines in the NFL. Instead of looking for a big name pass rusher to replace the franchise’s all time sack leader the Cowboys are trusting Rod Marinelli‘s ability to coach and develop defensive lineman to get the defense back on track.
The Cowboys signed two relatively unknown defensive lineman in Terrell McClain and Jeremy Mincey. Not only are these pass rushers not on the level of a Ware but they are barely starter material. However, these are the exact kind of signings the Cowboys need. These guys may not be every down pass rushers but they will do well in filling a rotation and they add some desperately needed depth for a cheap price.
The problem is that a defensive line will not have success with a collection of average rotation players. This is where Marinelli comes in. Jason Hatcher and George Selvie both more than doubled their career high sack totals when Marinelli took over. The Cowboys new defensive coordinator has a knack for making ordinary defensive lineman extraordinary.
Adding this depth means the Cowboys can avoid pulling in defensive lineman off the street in the middle of the season. Marinelli will have a full offseason to develop and make sure these unknown additions do just as Hatcher and Selvie did, ensuring the world knows who they are by season’s end. The success of the defense hinges on getting pressure on the quarterback, and if Marinelli picked out these two lineman that means he sees potential that he believes he can optimize.
With Hatcher likely to receive an offer the Cowboys will not be able to match, there will be no household names on their defensive line. Even if they sign Henry Melton or Robert Ayers and go after a defensive lineman like Aaron Donald early on in the draft the Cowboys will lack a clear cut No. 1 pass rusher and will depend on consistent play from several different players.
Even though Marinelli has a great reputation there are no guarantees with any of these and this is where the great risk lies. If none of these players break out or consistently elevate their game the Cowboys will be left with no pass rush once again.
If Marinelli is unable to get solid production out of the defensive line its unlikely the defense will see much improvement from last season, leaving the Cowboys in the all too familiar position of mediocrity. Marinelli is a solid coach to bet on and the Cowboys’ cap situation has left them with limited options, which is why it is worth taking this risk.