OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has worked miracles before and is being asked to again.
Marinelli, however, acknowledges this year’s defense might be his toughest task as he never has had a line so inexperienced.
Despite the uphill battle, the former Marine tunnel rat and Vietnam veteran is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s on me to get it done,” Marinelli said. “I like it. I just got to go do my job. I got to get this defense flying. We’ve got to play team football. If we can do that, then it’s exciting.”
Marinelli is encouraged by the success the defense had in 2014 when the Cowboys went 12-4 and won the NFC East. Much was made about the ball-control offense, featuring NFL-leading rusher DeMarco Murray’s 1,845 yards and quarterback Tony Romo’s most valuable player-caliber performance.
But that team also had Marinelli working his first season as defensive coordinator. He took a defense that ranked last in the league in 2013 to 19th in 2014.
More to the point, the Cowboys ranked second in the league with 31 takeaways.
Marinelli acknowledged that team was the one in which he is most proud of in all of his years of coaching.
“Their effort was off the charts,” Marinelli said. “We hit balls out. We stripped. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”