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Should Rod Marinelli Be on the Hot Seat?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

After being one of the hottest teams in the NFL a year ago, the Dallas Cowboys have struggled quite a bit in 2017. Surprisingly, the problems have come from every aspect of the game, offense, defense and special teams.

However, the defense is the biggest issue for this football team. That is a fact.

It doesn't matter how much you argue whether Dak Prescott should've thrown that pass on second and one or not. Or if he should have slid at the one-yard line instead of scoring.

The truth remains that this is a defense that allowed Aaron Rodgers and his offense to drive the ball down the field to score a game-winning touchdown in less than a minute and a half.

And it isn't just about last week. The Cowboys haven't had a dominant defense for what feels like an eternity. Some blame the players, some blame the coaches.

For a long time, I've been reluctant to blame coaching. But now, I think it's high time we take a look at Rod Marinelli being the problem for this defense.

Cowboys Nation has always defended Marinelli saying that he "has done more with less", arguing this is a defense without talent from which Rod Marinelli has exceeded expectations every year.

Cowboys Blog - Rod Marinelli: Cowboys' Key Piece on Defense

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

To a point, this is fair. In 2014, the Cowboys were supposed to have the worst defense in NFL history and ended up being the 15th best in the league. The Cowboys finished their regular season 12-4 that year.

But to be honest, I think that we are underestimating the talent this defense has.

I understand that maybe the Cowboys don't have the talent necessary to become an elite defense, but they're not even decent. Rod Marinelli might be a great teacher, and we've seen it with a lot of projects he's had over the years. But when it comes to coaching the entire defense, he probably can't handle it.

Rod Marinelli uses the Tampa 2 defense a lot, which is a zone scheme. Players like Morris Claiborne, for instance, might've had better careers in Dallas if man-to-man coverage was used more often.

The Tampa 2 scheme also relies a lot on its defensive line to pressure the quarterback. This is why it seems like we never see a blitz by the Cowboys' defense.

Looking at this Cowboys defense, I can't help but wonder what the team can do with these players. Rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis would probably benefit from playing man-to-man coverage more than zone coverage.

Has CB Jourdan Lewis Earned A Starting Role?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Byron Jones, Xavier Woods are players that could be great at blitzing with the athleticism they both have. Once Jaylon Smith is 100% healthy, he could be used in a lot of different ways, too.

This defense might not be great today, but it does have a lot of talent ready to be exploited. Rod Marinelli's conservative approach to the game is not what they need.

I think however this season ends for the Cowboys, this will be Marinelli's last year in Dallas. This team is very young and its talent shouldn't be wasted.

There are a lot of directions this team can go if they decide to move on from their defensive coordinator. I think the most likely option will be giving linebackers coach Matt Eberflus the chance. He has done a great job with the linebackers and he could become a great defensive coordinator.

For now, let's hope this defense finds a way to do just enough to help the offense win football games. The future of the Cowboys this season is as uncertain as it could be. They could turn it around easily, or it could go south really fast.

Maybe Rod Marinelli won't be the only change we see in the coaching staff in 2018.

Tell me what you think about "Should Rod Marinelli Be on the Hot Seat?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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12 Comments
  • ruben perez

    Muy Bueno te felicito

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Gracias, amigo!

  • Fatfan

    I agree, good article…fitting considering. I’ve wondered about Marinelli. I often hear about the wonders he does for a D; but I just wonder about the D. It might be time for a different D Coordinator

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I agree with you. We’ve been talking about how Marinelli doesn’t have talent around him… but I think he does. At least to be better than what they are now. Thanks for reading, my man!

      • Michael Barthel

        Marinelli needs to go!! Every season he has been coordinator our pass defense has been bottom of the league. Our run defense was decent but that was with a healthy Terrell McClain for the first time since he joined Dallas. Now he’s gone and Dallas run defense gets shredded. I honestly wish we would of kept Bruce Carter he was a very good linebacker. But all I’m saying is every since marinelli been with Dallas we have given up alot of yards and have had a very suspect pass rush. I think it’s time for him to go

        • Michael Barthel

          We def have the talent on defense. Brown and Lewis at corner. Smith and Wilson at linebacker. Taco Irving and Lawrence on the line. Jones and woods at safety. I’d like to see them call up Marquez white I’m a Florida State fan and I watched him alot there and the boy can play plus he taller than any of our corners now. White Lewis awuzie and brown could make a great secondary for years to come. White gave up 2 tds at Florida State that’s great stats

          • Mauricio Rodriguez

            I agree, this defense has more talent than given credit for.

  • Rodney Alston

    I believe it’s time for Rob Marinelli to go. We need a new defensive coordinator that willing to play more man coverage. When we play zone we gave up to many yards. Take look at Morris Clariborne,and Barry Church, they are playing good football. It seem to me every time our player go to another team they shine, why is that. Demarus Ware leaves and get a super bowl ring with Denver Broncos. The bottom line is we need a change because the offense can’t keep carrying the defense.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I think this Cowboys defense – which has more talent than given credit for – could use a scheme change.

      • Rodney Alston

        I agree the defense has a lot talent, but the student is only as good as the teacher.

  • Albert Smith

    I enjoyed the article but who would we get to come in and replace Marinelli, I have a lot of friends mentioning John Gruden as a head coach replacement but he’d keep Marinelli on so it makes no sense.

    • Michael Barthel

      So with us missing on Navarro bowman why doesn’t Dallas sign perry riley Jr very good run stopper and isn’t that bad in coverage. I say pull the trigger

Star Blog

QB Dak Prescott Continues To Come Through In Clutch Situations

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott Continues To Be Money In Clutch Si

Dak Prescott is possibly the most criticized quarterback in all of football.

Of course, this comes with the territory of being the Cowboys starting quarterback, but each throw Prescott attempts is placed under an intense microscope, even by NFL standards. We analyze every snap of every game, looking to find where Dak was right or wrong with this reads.

There's no question, though, that Prescott has been inconsistent throughout his young career. Week to week, drive to drive, and even play to play, we seemingly have no gauge on just how Dak Prescott will perform.

One scenario where we can say with confidence he will come through, however, is when it matters most. Last Sunday, in yet another must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott orchestrated a game winning drive to lead his team over the favored Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, but when Prescott got the ball in a tied game, I felt confident he would give Brett Maher a chance to win the game. Even on the road, and even after the offense had struggled a bit through the air all day.

Prescott got the ball late in the fourth quarter, looking to answer former NFL MVP Matt Ryan's game tying touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Dak went for it all on the first play, looking for Michael Gallup deep down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. After that throw, Prescott went 4/5 for 45 yards, including a huge completion to Cole Beasley, putting Dallas in game winning field goal range.

This confidence in Dak Prescott is justified, as is shown by his numbers in late game situations. Prescott now has 12 game winning drives, tying him for the league lead over the last three seasons. For comparison sake, Eagles starter Carson Wentz has just 3 game winning drives over that same stretch.

Overall the box score shows a rather quiet day for Prescott, but it was exactly the kind of Sunday they need from him. He completed over 60% of his passes, ran for a touchdown, and avoided the key turnover which could have sung this close game.

He played efficient football, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win it late. Then, he did what he does best, making plays in clutch situations and coming through in the 2 minute drill.

For all of Dak Prescott's flaws, those end-of-half and end-of-game situations have been a clear strength for the young quarterback, and continued to be this week.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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