It’s nothing new when we talk about how dreadfully awful the Dallas Cowboys defense was this year. The stats have been thrown around plenty, almost to the point of making everyone with any association with the Cowboys lose their minds. How can a roster this talented be so mediocre? And even more important, how can a defense with names like DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr be so horrible?
Well it’s really not that complicated when you break it down to the core. It basically comes down to injuries and scheme. One cannot easily be overcome, while the other can be adjusted according to available personnel, and the week’s opponent. With so many key players injured right from the get-go on through to Week 17, Dallas’ poor draft strategy and Free Agency stupidity have killed the roster’s depth for years to come. That’s why you can’t tear down the coaching staff…just yet.
If the defensive coaches have to be shook up, one man cannot be shown the door. Rod Marinelli kept Dallas’ defense from completely imploding throughout the season. Sure, they weren’t good, but when a unit like the defensive line gets ravished by injuries, and the depth is nowhere to be found, you can’t expect a team running the Tampa-2 that is predicated on the front four getting pressure to be competitive. You can’t blame the poor showings entirely on Marinelli, or any of the defensive coaches for that matter. They were never given a fighting chance, and you can place the majority of the blame on the front office.
If someone does have to lose their job, the scapegoat needs to, and probably will be defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. By the end of the season he really wasn’t playing that much of a role with the defense, and honestly he was more dead weight than anything. But at the same time Dallas needs to keep some sort of continuity on the defensive side of the ball, and who better to do it than Marinelli. He has the pedigree that is more relevant that what Kiffin has.
Marinelli spent four years prior to coming to Dallas as defensive line coach and coordinator in Chicago. He has experience as a 4-3, Tampa-2 guru dating back to the birth of the defense in Tampa Bay under Kiffin. More importantly than all of this, he has head coaching experience in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. That’s something Kiffin has never done, and considering how poorly the Cowboys defense played this year, probably never will.
Can you imagine how bad it might get if Dallas switches defensive schemes again in the offseason? Losing Marinelli, along with the rest of the defensive staff will set the Cowboys back even further in their development. Three different coordinators and schemes in three years is not the answer. No matter how badly you may want to see the defense revamped again, switching it out now is not the answer. Keeping Marinelli is the right decision and should be the only one.