Cowboys Rod Marinelli ready to unleash his Frankenstein
By Brad Austin
Since joining the Dallas Cowboys as defensive line coach in January 2013, Rod Marinelli has played the role of mad scientist.
In a plush laboratory using limited body parts, he was tasked to create a ferocious monster with a bloodlust for quarterbacks.
The type of savage beast his 2002 Buccaneers became while choking the life from opposing offenses (12.9 ppg).
The same vicious animal his 2012 Bears conjured to steal 24 interceptions and rank 3rd in scoring defense (17.3 ppg).
The massive obstacle in Dallas was quality parts take time to accumulate and mesh into a violent entity.
METHODICALLY GATHERING PARTS
In 2013, a plague of injuries forced Marinelli to use 17 different defensive linemen to handle only 4 positions.
Dallas ended the season 27th in sacks (34), and 26th in scoring defense (27 ppg).
As 2014 ushered in, out marched DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and 17 sacks.
Dallas drafted desired rush end Demarcus Lawrence to pick up the slack. Lawrence flashed in mini-camp before breaking his foot and missing the first eight games.
Marinelli was again left with scraps at defensive end, only adding 12.5 sacks to the team’s total of 28. His defense still finished a respectable 15th in scoring (22 ppg).
During the 2015 offseason, the mad scientist vowed to find the fierce pass rushers he’d desired since leaving Chicago in 2012.
His vision has always revolved around basketball type players who can dominate with burst, power, and athleticism.
"Where the league is at right now in terms of mobility at quarterback—with speed and/or guys that can step up and avoid—you need speed coming at the quarterback. You’re looking for athletic guys. You’re looking for athletic guys that can play in space. — Marinelli on 2012 Bears DL"
By then only half of the parts needed to create his pass rush masterpiece had been collected. Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford were his only powerful, athletic rushers.
Marinelli lobbied owner Jerry Jones to sign veteran Pro Bowl pass rusher Greg Hardy. Rookie pass rush specialist Randy Gregory miraculously fell to Dallas in the draft.
Over a few short months, Marinelli had finally collected the last missing pieces to build his master creation….his new Frankenstein.
The football world (and Marinelli himself) has yet to experience how vicious this monster will be on Sundays while filled with adrenaline.
Hardy was suspended the first four games. While Gregory sat out the last four games nursing a high ankle sprain.
This Sunday against the Giants, all four rush pieces finally come together for the first time as a finished product. The beast is alive and he’s ready to eat.
“IT’S ALIVE, ALIVE!”
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Dallas plays nickel defense over half of the time. Gregory, Crawford, Hardy, and Lawrence will bring a violent onslaught of gifted rushers from this alignment.
But that’s not the only way Marinelli will unveil his genius. It’s the basic, head-on threat of his attack. Next come the ambushes and battle tricks.
Now he’s free to blitz one of his dominating linebackers (Sean Lee, Rolando McClain) while blockers are fully engaged with his front beasts.
He can tighten corner cushions in man coverage, jamming receivers at the snap. His physical safeties will cheat up and punish the recipients of increased quick passes.
If the offense decides to run misdirection or screens to take advantage of the attacking nature, he has three linebackers with excellent open field mobility to snuff it out.
If they lean on the size mismatch using a big tight end, Marinelli will call on rookie, hybrid corner/safety Byron Jones to shut it down.
The entire defense will take on a new identity built on aggression and violence. The same style that causes sacks, bad decisions, and turnovers.
It’s taken 32 long months to piece together a legit Tampa-2 monster capable of inflicting his bad intentions.
Marinelli is finally set to unleash his Cowboys version of Frankenstein on Sunday. Six days before Halloween, the fear is just beginning.