IRVING, Texas – Rod Marinelli didn't bother mincing words when asked about his pass rush through three games.
"It's not good enough – it's not at the championship level we want, and they know that," he said.
It didn't really need to be said. To this point, Dallas is tied for 29th in the league with a paltry three sacks. To add insult to injury, only one of those sacks has come from the pass rush. Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens have combined for two on the year, leaving Tyrone Crawford as the only defensive lineman on the stat sheet.
"We've just got to keep grinding and just keep pushing, each and every day, each and every week," Marinelli said. "Try different guys in there, move guys around, maybe different matchups, and just work at it. Just work at it – it's not good enough."
There's plenty of rationale you can use to justify the lack of production. Greg Hardy is still finishing his four-game suspension, and Randy Gregory has been out since the season opener with a sprained ankle. Jeremy Mincey also sat out last week with a concussion.
None of those excuses are things Marinelli wanted to hear on Thursday.
"There's no excuse there. I think you just come back, you bring a bunch of men into a room and you make your corrections," he said. "You point out what we did right, and what we didn't as coaches, because they reflect who we are. You make your corrections and you move on and now we went back to work."
It should help that Mincey is available this week, though. The veteran led the team in sacks last year, and his presence was sorely missed against a vulnerable Atlanta defensive line last weekend.
"We lost our identity for a game, and we're fighting to get our identity back," Mincey said.
Mincey has become a big part of that identity during his time in Dallas. Keep an eye on any team huddle before kickoff and you'll make note of that, as the emotional sparkplug for Marinelli's defense.
"He's got a real edge to him, now – you've seen him, how hard he plays," Marinelli said. "He kind of represents that blue collar work that we go to work with."
Asked about that fact, Mincey agreed with his coach's assessment, and added that he's excited to bring it back to the field this weekend in New Orleans.
"That is one of my gifts – mentality, bringing guys up with me with my energy and mentality and all. I think they missed that," he said. "I really do feel like my teammates missed that, and I'm glad to be back so we can look at each other eye-to-eye and go through the same struggle and win this thing together."