On April 2, 2009, the fans of the Chicago Bears became anxious for the upcoming 2009 season as Jerry Angelo pulled off the unthinkable.
You guys know what it was…
Anyway, my first reaction to it was “Oh please oh please, don’t let this be like the Herschel Walker trade.” (Ha-ha Vikings).
But for me, I became excited for the 2009 season on January 10, 2009 when the Chicago Bears Organization signed former Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli.
After this move was made, I became very hopeful that the Bears could make it into the playoffs in 2009. Even with the players and personnel we had at the time, I was very hopeful and excited.
When news of Marinneli signing on to be the team’s DL coach broke, there was a good share of negativity from Bears fans.
When a coach is hired after leading his own team the first ever 0-16 record, why would you hire him? Many were saying that he can’t help our DL because he couldn’t help his own team. Well, I think this judgment on Rod is a whole bunch of you-know-what.
First off, I want to say that the Detroit Lions Organization completely let Marinneli down. They couldn’t get the needed players from free agency and the draft, the Lions personal were completely awful, and lastly, the Detroit Lions team gave up on him.
I know Rod has taken his fair share of the blame, but sometimes there are guys that can head coach and guys that can’t. In Rod’s case, he was one of those who can’t.
But before his non-glory days of Detroit, he was a highly successful DL coach. Marinneli played a pivotal part in the Tampa Bay Bucs Super Bowl season in 2002, as he helped regular players like Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp become All-World players.
Sapp was so high on Rod that he stated wherever he was hired at, he would help him out. Even Simeon Rice stated that he would like to come and play for the Bears simply for the fact that Rod could be coaching. When quality players like those two say that about a coach, you know he's good at what he does.
An argument can be made about why he couldn’t make the Detroit Lions DL into stars. Rod couldn’t coach one unit, he had to coach the whole team as what he was hired to do. He had to cover not only the DL, but the secondary, the offensive line, receivers, personal, linebackers, etc.
He couldn’t command his whole team, but like I said earlier, some guys can head coach...
The addition of Rod Marinneli to the Bears coaching staff was big for our team. I would say just as big as getting Cutler and Pace. Why? Well Lovie Smith always states in his interviews about the Tampa-2, that it all starts with the front four. And he is right.
The effect on how the Tampa-2 is executed relies on the defensive line, and as you all saw last season, our line has definitely underachieved. For what Rod did in Tampa Bay, he can definitely do in Chicago where defense means everything here.
His priority should be to get the DL to be the reckless, ruthless line it once was and turn each player on the line into high-quality players.
The guy that needs it the most is Tommie Harris. His knee injuries have been a problem since college in the 2006 season and has been an excuse for him to sit out practices, thinking that he will be able to give it his all come game time. That hasn’t been the case for a couple seasons now.
So what Rod can do that Babich should’ve done is giving Harris a swift kick in the behind. Tommie needs a reality check on why he was drafted, not a paycheck. Former Rams DE and Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood played in his only Super Bowl on a broken leg. He even played in the Pro Bowl that next week with little treatment on it at all.
And here we have one of the best players on our defense and he’s sitting out practices because his knees are nagging him? Please…
Rod, put Tommie in his place and make him a football player.
Secondly, Rod can actually make Alex Brown and others into the Pro Bowl DEs that they can be.
The proper coaching can get Alex to be that type of player. Ogunleye is in a contract year so he should have no reason to level off this season. If Rod can’t get him to be the stout player he once was, then odds are he won’t get that contract that he so desperately wants.
Mark Anderson looked like an All-Pro his rookie season and a rookie for the past two seasons. Though coming into his fourth season, he still hasn’t hit his prime yet. Rod can easily mold him into the player he once was and can stay that way.
Can Rod make Dusty Dvoracek not injury-prone anymore? Probably not, but he can get the best out of him for the season until he goes down again.
At Tampa Bay, Sapp and Rice were Rod’s new toys to play with and help turn them to great players. Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton are now those two guys. With no NFL experience for both, Rod can teach them both the fundamentals of playing DL and both rookie have a very great chance of contributing to line in a year or two.
Lastly, not only Rod’s coaching can make the line better, but the whole defense as well.
When the DL is top notch, the Tampa-2 will work greatly. Our safeties and corners will definitely look and player better.
In conclusion, what Jay Cutler will be to our offense, Rod Marinneli can do for our defense.
Our defense was what brought us down last season and the last I checked, Jay Cutler plays QB. So with Rod’s guidance and wisdom to the defensive line, our defense will be significantly better. Marinelli’s addition to our team was definetly a need by all means.
So when you see Chicago Bears' DL coach Rod Marinneli walking the sideline in the season opener, forget the past three lowly years he had in Detroit. Remember the times he was a heralded DL coach in Tampa Bay by making a few of the best defensive line players in NFL history.
And he is now part of our team.
I have faith in you Rod! GO BEARS!