IRVING, Texas – As one former Cowboys position coach heads to Chicago, it wouldn’t be shocking to see another coach make the reverse trip from the Windy City to Dallas.
Bears defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Rod Marinelli decided to move on from his post, according to Chicago’s new head coach, Marc Trestman. That decision could have something to do with his longtime coaching comrade, Lovie Smith, getting fired as Chicago’s head coach.
Monte Kiffin rejoining the professional ranks could also have played a role.
Marinelli spent the last four seasons coaching for Smith, including the last three as defensive coordinator. Smith and Marinelli also coached together for five seasons as position coaches in Tampa Bay under the tutelage of Kiffin, the Bucs’ defensive coordinator, in the late ‘90s.
The Cowboys should be thrilled if Marinelli’s desire to move on stems from a desire to coach again with Kiffin. Marinelli was the defensive line coach for Kiffin in Tampa Bay for 10 seasons. In that span, Tampa Bay finished in the top five in total defense seven times.
Only once did the Bucs finish outside the top 10 in total defense during Marinelli’s tenure, and that was when they ended the year at No. 11 in Marinelli’s first season with the club. The defense also finished in the top 10 in the league in sacks five times in that 10-year span.
Marinelli’s head coaching career never went as planned while with the Lions, winning just 10 games in three seasons. But his superb work as a defensive coach can’t be questioned.
The Bears finished No. 5 in total defense with Marinelli as the coordinator this season. Anyone who owned a fantasy football team or watched the Bears play the Cowboys should understand the kind of playmaking ability that defense possessed.
Chicago ranked in the top 10 in sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles this year. The Bears led the league with 24 interceptions, while returning eight of them for touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns on interception returns occurred at Cowboys Stadium.
Much of the Bears’ long-time defensive success could be attributed to Smith’s defensive mind, having served as the Rams’ defensive coordinator prior to becoming head coach. But Smith hasn’t held the title of defensive coordinator the last three seasons. That would belong to Marinelli, who’s been in charge of one of the league’s perennially premier defenses.
Marinelli’s demonstrated he can handle that role skillfully. If he does come to Dallas as a position coach, the Cowboys would be developing one of the stouter defensive staffs in the league. Marinelli and Kiffin have already displayed what they can accomplish while working together.
Thus far, no changes have been disclosed on the Cowboys’ defensive staff, outside of Rob Ryan’s departure. Brian Baker is the current defensive line coach in Dallas, and he’s held that position for two years. Judging by the hastiness in which staff changes have occurred this offseason, an announcement of further changes to the position coaches could come at any moment.
Marinelli would be a solid fit for Kiffin and the Cowboys. Not to mention, his addition to the staff would give the Cowboys another potential option at defensive coordinator in the future.