Well, that didn’t take long. Rod Marinelli hasn’t even gone through OTAs yet as the new defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, but he’s already making sure his players understand there’s a new sheriff in town.
On Monday, Marinelli was asked about his players’ confidence, a question that applied specifically to Bruce Carter. His response included a hint of aggravation, as if the question was a waste of time in his mind.
“I don’t do confidence stuff…Get down and play…It’s a man’s game, man…That’s what I want. We’re going to coach it. We’ll coach you hard. Be where you’re supposed to be. This is what we expect, and then go.”
That should be music to the ears of Cowboys fans, who have suffered through years of embarrassment on the defensive side of the ball, but arguably none worse than last season under Monte Kiffin. Although the elder defensive mind is still on the staff, his lackadaisical approach to the players is ancient history.
Long gone are the days of pathetic excuses, such as Morris Claiborne complaining about not being able to play man coverage as much as he wanted last year. Long gone are the repeated chances for players who miss assignments, which will finally result in Dallas putting the best players on the field instead of the ones with the highest status on paper.
Marinelli made it clear he doesn’t care about a player’s status or lack of confidence, again speaking specifically of Carter.
“I just coach football, and I think there’s a lot of toughness in football coached the right way.”
There’s been a don’t-ruffle-any-feathers mindset around Valley Ranch for a very long time, a “Country Club” attitude ripped by Jimmy Johnson, that is now finally, hopefully, gone. Players who were high draft picks had no fear of losing their jobs, regardless of performance. Now Marinelli’s comments about Carter, a former second-round pick, suggest that is no longer the case, at least on defense.
Well, that’s a good start and at least it’s the side of the ball that needs to most work. If Carter doesn’t play well or Claiborne complains again, you better believe Marinelli won’t hesitate to pull them, which is the way it should be.
Maybe, just maybe, this will instill a mindset in the Cowboys’ players that will lead to a mentally-tough, hard-working (and, eventually, winning) attitude.
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