If you were CEO for a company and posted the worst financial year in your organization’s history, you probably wouldn’t expect to have a job for very long. That’s exactly what Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin did last year. The only difference, he expected to keep his position. He was wrong.
On Tuesday, the Cowboys “promoted” Kiffin to assistant head coach/defense. It’s a title Dallas most likely made up simply to placate an aging football legend. After leading the worst defense in the NFL , and in the Cowboys history, onto the field last season, it was arrogant for Kiffin to think he would keep his job. Yet, that’s exactly what it looked like owner/general manger Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett were willing to do…until this week.
All of Kiffin’s responsibilities, and his title as defensive coordinator, have now been transferred over to Rod Marinelli. As Dallas’ defensive line coach, Marinelli is widely regarded as the lone bright spot in last year’s debacle of a defense. Coaching up players like defensive end George Selvie and defensive tackle Nick Hayden, both of whom were unemployed free agents, and making them productive NFL starters who played with intensity and passion.
The biggest advantage on Marinelli’s side is the fact his players love him. He makes giving their maximum effort fun. For example, Marinelli called his defensive line group the Rush Men this season and gave them all nicknames. Names like Jason “Big Daddy” Hatcher, DeMarcus “Long Arms” Ware, and George “Brick Layer” Selvie. The players loved it. It’s that personal connection, and 40 years of coaching experience, that make Marinelli the perfect candidate for this job.
What will Kiffin’s role be in his new position? The Cowboys say he’ll attend all the meetings and be deeply involved with the defense. It appears Kiffin will do everything he did before outside of calling plays and supporting his staff. Now, he’ll simply support Marinelli. I wouldn’t expect him to last in Dallas past this season. And that also goes for offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.