There was some criticism of the Bears' interest in Rod Marinelli as the defensive line coach, and some now that he has been hired today to handle that role and be the assistant head coach.
I'm not sure where the it comes from. Yes, Marinelli and the Detroit Lions reached an all-time NFL low this season by finishing 0-16. That was a mess that Matt Millen had just as much or more to do with than Marinelli. No one has propped up Marinelli as a head-coaching candidate in this league. No one advocated him being the Bears' defensive coordinator. Just because he failed as a head coach doesn't mean he cannot be a successful position coach again.
Marinelli had a 10-38 record in three seasons as the top man in Detroit.
Dick LeBeau was 12-33 as the head coach in Cincinnati from 2000-2002. He's done a pretty good job returning to his roots as an assistant and will lead Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense into play Sunday against San Diego at Heinz Field.
Marinelli was regarded as one of the best line coaches in the league during a 10-year run in Tampa Bay. That reputation had nothing to do with his relationship with Lovie Smith. During that span, the Buccaneers' line had 328.5 sacks, the most in the league. That's 32.5 sacks per season from the line.
Marinelli is also the most experienced NFL assistant Smith has ever hired. In fact, he's the only coach on staff other than Smith with 10 years experience in the league. Now, he can't make Tommie Harris' left knee feel any better. He can't turn Dusty Dvoracek into an iron man, and who knows if he'll be able to travel back in time and find the Mark Anderson of old. But he's experienced working with linemen and here's something worth considering: Marinelli could be in a better position to make a difference now than he would have been if Smith would have been successful in his bid to hire him as coordinator in 2004.
Both Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo named Marinelli as their first choice to be defensive coordinator when the original staff was assembled. Marinelli remained under contract to the Bucs at the time and couldn't get free. One source in Detroit said he'll be best working with the linemen, describing him as a teacher at heart and saying that X's and O's were not his strength. If that's accurate, the Bears have him in the right spot. If they can get improved play from their line it's going to help the pass defense that ranked 30th and bolster the run defense.
I'm just not sure how it's a bad move. Smith has been criticized, rightfully so, for building staffs with limited NFL experience. Marinelli comes in with a track record as a line coach in the NFL. Smith could have made many moves that would have made a lot less sense than this one.