IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' defensive turnaround has come as one of the surprise storylines of this NFL season, as they've improved from worst in the league last year.
He might be on a different team now, but that reversal doesn't come as any kind of shock to Jason Hatcher.
"Coach Marinelli, I knew from the day he got the job he was going to change things around," Hatcher said Thursday. "I know what kind of guy he is, and I knew it wouldn't be long before those guys were playing well."
Hatcher was perhaps the lone bright spot on the Dallas defense last season, as he earned a Pro Bowl selection for his 11 sacks on the year – most in the league among defensive tackles. He leveraged that success into a four-year $27.5 million contract with Washington.
As is often the case with those who have played under him, Rod Marinelli got the bulk of the credit for Hatcher's success in the Dallas scheme last season. He became one of the NFL's top pass rushers playing as Marinelli's three-technique – the position Henry Melton and Tyrone Crawford now occupy.
"He did a great job of just getting me believing back in myself, my ability and just going out there and playing fast and pass-rushing -- he taught me a lot about that," Hatcher said of Marinelli. "I can't credit nobody but him. He did a great job of just coaching me every day, coaching me hard, working me every day as hard as he could, and it paid off."
The biggest offseason departure for the Cowboys was undoubtedly DeMarcus Ware, who signed with Denver after he was released in March. That's understandable, considering Ware is the franchise's leader in sacks. But it's worth noting that Hatcher spent eight seasons with the team after he was drafted in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
"I kind of had an idea I was leaving, I was kind of prepared for it. I just enjoyed my last year there and it was a great organization and I appreciate everything they done for me and I was kind of ready," Hatcher said. "As far as D-Ware, I didn't see that coming. I thought he would be a longtime Cowboy. It's a business and everybody got to go sometimes. You just got to keep going."
In order to keep going, Hatcher and the Redskins will be looking to get their second-straight win after a four-game losing streak. Asked if it was difficult to watch his former team enjoy a six-game win streak, Hatcher said he didn't have any hard feelings.
"I understand how hard it is to win in this football league, man. I was there with those guys, and I know what kind of work they put in, and it's finally paying off for them," he said. "I don't wish nobody bad in this league at all, because I understand how hard it is to win. So I'm happy for those guys."