The Dallas Cowboys have found a new defensive coordinator, promoting former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to the position.
ESPN's Todd Archer reports that Marinelli will replace Monte Kiffin, who was named an assistant head coach.
Rod Marinelli Cowboys new defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin named assistant head coach/defense— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) January 29, 2014
America's Team must fix their putrid defense from this past season, which finished at the bottom of the NFL in total yards allowed per game (415.3) and was 30th against the pass, 27th versus the run and 26th in points allowed.
Not much positivity to draw from, but head coach Jason Garrett feels confident in the tweaks made, explaining the decision to promote Marinelli to The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota:
Garrett: "Rod Marinelli's production in terms of creating turnovers and changing field position as a def. coordinator is well documented."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 29, 2014
Is Rod Marinelli a viable solution as defensive coordinator?
Marinelli was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 2010 through 2012. In his final season with the Bears, they led the league with 44 takeaways, ranked fifth in total defense and third in scoring defense.
Creating turnovers was not a problem for the Cowboys this past season, though, as they managed a respectable total of 27.
Giving up big plays and yielding red-zone touchdowns are what Marinelli needs to curb, as Dallas allowed 2.5 touchdowns inside the red zone per game—dead last in the NFL, per TeamRankings.com.
Garrett also shed more light on the specifics of Kiffin's new role:
Garrett: "Monte was brought here to direct a transition in philosophy to the 4-3... he will continue to oversee the development of our def."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 29, 2014
Jason Garrett: Monte Kiffin's knowledge "will be put to use in mentoring all of the players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 29, 2014
This reshuffling of the Cowboys' coaching deck on Tuesday also included the hiring of former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as the passing game coordinator and play-caller, per ESPN.com news services, which cited insider Chris Mortensen's source with knowledge of the situation.
Per Machota, Garrett is seeking to give Dallas' dynamic offense even more room to grow in hiring Linehan:
Jason Garrett: The Linehan/Callahan combination "will give us a great chance to build upon the strides we made offensively last year."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 29, 2014
Ed Werder of ESPN weighed in on the immense experience Garrett's staff has, which should only heighten the pressure to guide the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2014:
Addition of Scott Linehan means Jason Garrett - in final contract year - has 3 staffers with NFL HC experience: Callahan, Marinelli, Linehan— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) January 28, 2014
Dallas went 8-8 for the third consecutive season in 2013 and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Hopefully for Cowboys fans—and for the sake of Garrett and his staff's job security—the coaching shakeup works. Putting Marinelli in charge of the defensive play sheet may be the key to a necessary turnaround in what should be a wide-open NFC East division.