Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Why Terrell McClain Will Start For The Dallas Cowboys In 2014

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that Rod Marinelli is one of the best defensive coaches in the league at getting the most out of his players. This was the case in 2013 when Marinelli got the most out of George Selvie and Nick Hayden. Although Hayden didn’t have any sacks, he wasn’t that bad at holding his ground in the middle of the field. Selvie on the other hand had by far his best statistical season. The South Florida product had seven sacks, even though he was signed towards the end of training camp in August.

In 2011, when Marinelli coached for the Chicago Bears, he had a lot of interest of Terrell McClain. McClain at the time was just entering the NFL from the University of South Florida. In fact, McClain played a year of football with Selvie in college.

Here is a video of Marinelli working with McClain at a private workout in Tampa:

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This leads me to my next point… I believe McClain will start next to Henry Melton on this defensive line in 2014. Although many believe he will be a depth guy, there is reason to believe why McClain could start on this team. I said earlier how Marinelli made Hayden a better player. The interesting thing about that is that McClain is more talented than Hayden, and it shouldn’t be long until Cowboys fans see that this guy can play.

McClain is the epitome of a 4-3 defensive linemen, and he was misused in 3-4 defensive schemes when he played in Houston and Carolina. Also, the Texans and the Panthers have had good defensive lines in the past few years. This is just another reason why McClain has never had his chance to shine. Coming into a new system with one of the best defensive line coaches in the league, McClain will flourish. Last year, it was Damon Harrison of the New York Jets who came out of nowhere to make an impact in the middle of the field. With an opportunity to start, McClain will become a household name in 2014 for the Cowboys.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Henry Melton Rod Marinelli Terrell McClain

  • David

    Marinelli has said he wants an 8 to 9 man rotation to always keep the guys fresh and attacking. I could see McClain starting and rotating with Hayden. I could also see Crawford at the 3 tech rotating with Melton if they draft another DE in the 2nd or 3rd round. Crawford has a lot of versatility to play the 3 tech or move to DE.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment, David. An 8-9 man rotation would be a good idea, especially since we have no stars across this defensive line. Melton is good, but his ACL injury is scary. I like Crawford a lot too.

      • David

        Your welcome Ryan and honestly I am not to worried about Melton’s ACL injury.

        • Ryan Ratty

          David, check out the video of Marinelli working with McClain I just added into the article!

          • David


            I like the McClain pick actually. With him and Hayden playing there they should not have to worry about adding a 1 tech in the draft until the later round if at all. I beleive Melton will come back strong and they will perhaps use Crawford there with him in the rotation or the will move him to DE. I personally think he may be able to be a very good 3 tech because he displayed some good interior lineman skills playing the 3-4 DE. If that is the case I really hope they Address the FS position or add another legit LB to the mix. I dont care how good our front four is, if the safety positions do not get better the defense will still not be great or even very good. Especially in todays pass happy NFL. I think the safeties have 2 picks in the last two years. Let me know your thoughts..



    • Viper4

      Jimmy Johnson was one of many coaches who said THE KEY to winning in the NFL was a pass rush in the fourth quarter. I remember watching the Cowboys’-Packers NFC title game when the Cowboys’ “D” had just ground down Green Bay’s O-line and Madden said, “This is almost unfair.”

  • brian basile

    I like McCain, think him and Melton could anchor the middle of line for years to come…Great thing about DE situation is there will be some hunger fighting for spots…Would like to see Spencer signed on a 1 year show me deal…Still think main D concern is safety…My draft wish list is Pryor/Dix 1st, Creighton/Murphy 2nd, Richardson/Dozier 3rd, Christian Jones 4th, Brad Smith 5th, trade into 6th and get Michael Schofield and if Aaron Lynch is there in seventh….Im stoked…EVERY one of these players I can see contributing right away and spot is possible….

  • Viper4

    The Cowboys jut need someone to collapse the pocket and in a best-case scenario to occupy two blockers to free up Selvie or whoever else is coming off the other corner. Ware hasn’t been himself and there’s a question whether he will return to anything close to that form. Injuries eventually brought Charles Haley and Deion Sanders back to the pack. If Dallas can get another six or seven sacks from Selvie, another six or seven from the interior line and that many from another defensieve end AND there is consistent pressure up the middle, the secondary will be improved dramatically.

    • David

      It takes more than just a great D-line to win a SB. Lets put it this way, if Seattle had Wilcox, Heath and Church in the SB Manning would have carved them up and the Broncos win…

      • Viper4

        True. Still coaches will tell you it takes a strong pass rush in the fourth quarter to win in the NFL. Watch the last few minutes of the 1996 NFC championship game between Dallas and Green Bay. Favre was running for his life and took three sacks, not because the secondary was playing press coverage but because he couldn’t drop back, step up into the pocket, and was flushed out. Or watch the way Parcells’ Giants demolished the 49ers in 1986. It wasn’t because they had a killer secondary it was because LT, Harry Carson, and Leonard Marshall
        overpowered 49′ers o-line and kept putting Montana on his back.

        Then, too, the 1985 Bears had nine pro bowlers: on the defensive side, two were on the d-line, two were linebackers, and only one came from the secondary.

        Flash forward to the 2000 Ravens–another great defense. That team had five pro bowlers and one came from the secondary.

        So, we have three of the best defenses of the past 30 years and three or four could boast pro bowl players in the secondary. By and large, if they played defense they were on the d-line or played linebacker. There wasn’t a cornerback among them. Now, that might change if you throw in the 49′ers and Cowboy teams of the 90′s with Deion Sanders but teams are shut down by the d-line with support from linebackers. Upgrade those postions and secondaries get a lot better.

        • David

          Bro while I agree with you on some points, the teams you are talking about were in a different era. Todays game is so different and pass happy. A few years ago Dallas was close to the top in the league in sacks with Ware and Spencer playing great. How did that work out. Their defense still struggled because their safeties were borderline horrible..

          • Viper4

            Don’t take my word for it:

            “Former Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls, who set a team record with 11 interceptions his rookie season in 1981 and compiled 44 picks during his time with the Cowboys from 1981-89, said on NFL Network that the problem with the defense lies with the front seven.

            “I lived by pressure,” Walls said. “(Ed) ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Harvey Martin, Randy White, I had plenty of pressure up there. They made me so upset sometimes, they took away my interceptions because they got there so fast…That’s the luxury that I lived with. The Cowboys need to shore up not just their front four, but their front seven.”

            The Cowboys finished last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and No. 25 in the league in sacks overall last year. Walls, a Dallas native and four-time Pro Bowler who played behind some of the best pass rushers in the league, said there needs to be a better rush if the big-money secondary players are going to reach their potential.

            “If you’re going to be good in the secondary, you have to be good on the defensive line, and that’s just all there is to it,” Walls said.”

          • David

            I dont care what he said. He played in an era where qb’s threw 20 times a game.

          • Viper4

            I can always tell when someone is blowing smoke and hasn’t done their homework.

            Look at the top 10 quarterbacks in 2013 and you will discover collectively they had approximately 4700 passes attempted which average about 27 per game.

            Now go back to 1981 when Walls and the Cowboys were stillamong the elite. The top-10 quarterbacks attempted more than 5200 passes or about 32 per game.

            It’s all there–if someone wants to do the research but you don’t because it will conflict with your theor–ands there’s little doubt you will attempt to refute the numbers with some contorted logic.

          • David

            Well for one I was being a bit facetious when I was saying 20 times a game. And my point is that the game has changed quite a bit from when he played. Also I have never said the Cowboys or any other tame does not need a great pass rush to help the secondary. But if you think that just a great pass rush will make the Cowboys safeties Pro Bowlers well then you are to put lightly about as football ignorant as they come. But you are right. Dallas should just draft all D-lineman this draft. And hey when hey are all world dont even bother playing safeties they wont need too.

          • Viper4

            In 1992 the Cowboys entered the season with Darren Woodsen, Kevin Smith, Clayton Holmes, Thomas Everett, and Rayo Horton as D.B.’s.

            When the 49′ers sent Charles Haley to Dallas, Al Davis called Jerry and said, “Congradulations. You just won the Super Bowl.”

            He didn’t say that when they drafted Smith or Woodsen. Dallas was coming off of
            a debacle of a loss to the Lions in the 1992 playoffs. As Johnson was walking off the field, he said, “This will never happen again.”–meaning a run and shoot team would never pick apart his defense by slicing and dicing it with short quick passes.
            This meant he needed pressure comning off the corner.

            Football ignorance would be suggesting collecting sacks are the litmus test of a championship caliber team. It’s not. It’s pressure up the middle that prevents the quarterback from stepping up into the pocket and planting.

            Even if I am as ignnorant as you suggest, knowledge can supplant ignorance. Arrogance, however, the kind that causes a fan to mock the opinion of a Hall of Famer player isn’t so easily eradicated or where I said, they should just draft all d-lineman.

            And, perhaps, you can point out where I suggested a much-improved pass rush would make Claiborne and Carr pro bowlers or that Dallas should just draft dl-lineman. of course, you can’t because I never said that. I do have history on my side.
            In 1992 despite a harvest of potential pro bowlers in the secondary, the Cowboys were one player away from the Super Bowl and that turned out to be Charles Haley, as Al Davis knew and predicted.