It was recently announced former Defensive Line coach, Rod Marinelli, will be taking over as Defensive Coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Last years’ Defensive Coordinator, Monte Kiffin will be retained in a different capacity (Assistant Head Coach/Defense).
While Kiffin’s new title is more honorary than anything, it was a necessary move. Many fans and media were already calling for Kiffin’s head midway through the season. By the end of it all it was obvious something had to happen. The Cowboys fielded their worst defense – EVER. That is difficult to fathom given the talent and payroll.
Injuries played a big part but when haven’t they? After all, it wasn’t just the street free agents messing up and disappointing. It was the established veterans and the highly regarded draft picks that also disappointed. This defense was a colossal failure no matter how you look at it and someone’s head had to roll to turn it around.
So…why didn’t someone’s head roll?
Why did Kiffin get a new title instead of getting fired?
Rod Marinelli is why. Rod is fiercly loyal and if he felt the Cowboys were disrespectful or unfair to his friend Monte Kiffin, he would have no problem walking away. He did it last offseason in Chicago. When Lovie Smith was fired Rod walked. He was asked to stay but he preferred to take a lower ranking job elsewhere than to work for a team that wronged his friend.
I predicted at season’s end a move like this would happen. Kiffin would be repurposed while Marinelli would take the reins on this defense. With Kiffin saving face and kept on staff, Marinelli can be satisfied his friend was dealt with appropriately, respectfully, and compassionately.
This is a very untraditional way of conducting business and Jerry Jones has already been lambasted for doing yet another questionable move to his dysfunctional coaching staff. But this was a smart move. This was a necessary move. Rod Marinelli is just that important.
In the three years Marinelli was running the Chicago Bears defense, the Bears only gave up 904 points. That’s good enough for 4th place in the NFL. The same defense was third in interceptions and first in forced fumbles (something the Cowboys are already good at).
Can the team stay healthy enough for him to achieve these kinds of rankings? That remains to be seen. But if the overachievement of the defensive line indicates anything, Marinelli will find a way to make it happen.
Kiffin needed to stay because the Cowboys need Rod Marinelli.
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