Chicago Sun-Times

Hiring Marinelli to do what he does best makes sense

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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.

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11 Comments

Brad your correct. Their is absolutly no way bringing in coach Marinelli is a bad move. This should absolutly be a positive for our front line. I just hope that when Rod and Lovie evaluate the line play they see that they need a true nose tackle to make the defense dominant. Either bulk up Marcus Harrison and Anthony Adams, or do the more sure thing and sign Albert Haynesworth. Welcome abord Coach Marinelli, you have my support!! GO BEARS!!

This was a great move by Chicago to bring in a position coach with some NFL experience, Im glad Rod Marinelli is a Bear now.

With players like defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who got better as the year went on, I think as the knee got better, so did Tommie Harris play, Harris should be good to go next season. Also, Harris was selected as a first team alternate for the pro-bowl, Im sure if the knee would have been good all season, Harris would have been a starter. Its no coincidence as the season went on, the better Harris play got, with an off-season of rest, Harris should be good for next season. Most knee injuries take a season to fully recover anyways. Like I was saying, Harris, along with defensive end Alex Brown, defensive tackle Anthony Adams, and Marcus Harrison, are a few core players up front that should only get better with Marinelli's teaching.

Its also no coincidence, that every team with an opening for a defensive line coach, Chicago, Houston, Seattle [as a coordinator], and even Green Bay was rumored to have interest, brought Marinelli in for an interview. Rod Marinelli has a proven track record as a defensive line coach, even if Tampa did have two good players on their front four, Sapp and Rice. But then again, Marinelli didn't get Rice until 2001, in 2000, before Rice, the Bucs still had one of the leagues best front four, with just Sapp, the rest of the line in 2000 was made up of big namers like, NT Brad Culpepper [remember the Bears had him for a short stint], and ends Steve White & Chidi Ahanotu, as you can see with these big name defensive linemen Marinelli had, it was more than just the players. Also, after Warren Sapp left for Oakland in 2005, Lindys pro football said, "With the loss of Sapp, Marinelli continues to master the art of developing young defensive linemen into starters." I can't wait to see Marcus Harrison, who looked good as a rookie, continue to develop with Marinelli now in Chicago. Chicago has some talent on their front four also, Harris, Brown, Ogunleye, Adams, and second year defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, theres no reason to think Marinelli can't help turn this thing around on defense, and it starts up front GO BEARS!!

This is the best coaching hire the Bears have made in a very long time. Teams like the Patriots and the Cowboys consistently (compared to us, anyway) make the playoffs, and a big reason for that is that they go after top guys and spend what they need to when it comes to coaches. Since it doesn't go against the cap, the only excuse for not doing this is stinginess or cronyism. The Bears front office is willing to spend big when they think it's justified, they just usually pay the wrong people. And who knows, maybe the only reason Marinelli is in Chicago now is because he is Lovie's friend, but if that's the case, let's just consider ourselves lucky that Lovie finally brought in a buddy who's a legitimate NFL coach. Too bad he doesn't have one of those that wants to replace Babich.

Rod Marinelli being added to the Bears coaching staff is another example of the Good Ol Boy politics in the Bears staff. The Bears have taken one giant step backwards. Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo are trying to recreate the D that Tampa had. The Cover 2 D that was once a great scheme has been figured out by the league. In its day it was an awesome scheme, but in its day the statue of liberty play was awesome. Teams/schemes/coaching need to move forward. Create new schemes or adjust old schemes to todays game. Schemes that worked 10 years ago wont make it in todays league.
The Bears ended the season #30 against the pass and #5 against the run and they have added a coach whose team was last in the league against the run last season. How does this help anyone other than Jerry's buddies?
I love the Bears and I hope to God I am wrong about this but in my humble opinion Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith just buddied themselves out of a job next year.

Kevin,

In 2005 they had Booger McFarland and picked up Chris Hovan in free agency from the Vikings. They also still had SIMEON RICE who recorded 14.5 sacks.

Your right, Marinelli didn't get Rice until 2001; Rice was a 3rd overall pick and held(holds?) the Big 10 record for sacks in a career. By the time Marinelli got him, Rice had already been Defensive Rookie of the Year and been to his first Pro Bowl.

I'm still trying to figure out how Rod Marinelli was such a great defensive line coach? He had HOF'er Warren Sapp who was selected 12th overall and had been a legitimate college dominating force with more hardware than Home Depot. They brought in Simeon Rice. When Sapp left they brought in Chris Hovan. Next to Sapp\Hovan, they had Booger McFarland a 15th overall pick.

If you load up a defensive line with first-round, proven talent, you could make any coach look great. We don't have Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, or Booger McFarland. We don't have Seth McFarlane.

In college you see QB's come out and they are labelled as "product of the system." So what would you call a defensive line coach who had huge free agent and first-round talent and the first chance he goes out on his own ... 30th ranked defense, 32nd ranked defense, 32nd ranked defense and 0-16.

I'm sorry, I just can't see how this is going to help unless we provide this guy with first-round talent. Exactly who did he "coach up" that you can point to and say that's why we need Rod Marinelli?

Creighton,

I have been asking people over and over on this board why Rod Marinelli is so great for Chicago. I keep hearing guys like Bill Holland call people "stupid" or other people refer to those like me as "morons" for not thinking this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

In a related thread:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/bears/2009/01/hiring_marinelli_to_do_what_he.html

I posed that Marinelli is a product of the system. Since he left the Bucs have not dropped off. In 2006 they dropped to 17th in defense but were back to 2nd and 9th the last two years. I pointed to Rice\McFarland\Sapp\Hovan as guys they brought in via free agency and\or were 3rd, 12th, and 15th overall picks. I think you or I could "coach" a line with high-priced free agents and top 15 overall picks.

No one has yet to address HOW he was this great defensive line coach. More importantly - when he left "the system" - he had a Detroit defense that was 30th ranked, 32nd ranked, and 32nd ranked PLUS 0-16. This looks more and more like another Bob Babich decision to me.

Hey, if the guy can turn Mark Anderson back into the guy who won Defensive Rookie of the Year, I am ALL FOR IT! However, I have yet to see ONE GUY you can point at and say "Rod Marinelli made him what he is." Just show me ONE FARKING GUY and I'll take the moniker of "stupid" or "moron" for thinking this is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Da Church of Da Coach, your trying to tell me Booger McFarland or Chris Hovan are any better than Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams? Harris is a three time pro bowler, if not for the knee this season, it would have been four time. As Harris knee got better, so did his play, as we all saw him get better toward the end of the season. Harris should be good to go for next season. As for McFarland, the fact Marinelli got anything from McFarland was a job well, McFarland was injury prone. And Marinelli only had Hovan for one season, and again, no way is Hovan any better than Anthony Adams, or second year defensive tackle Marcus Harrison for that matter.

DC of DC, you are right about a defensive end, the Bears currently don't have a pass rusher the caliber of Simeon Rice, hopefully they can get one on draft day, not saying they will land the next Simeon Rice on draft day, but someone to help rush the passer. Also, defensive end Alex Brown isn't no slouch himself, Brown is actually a pretty good player.

DC of DC, its not just about the players, if Chicago is determined to stick with the cover-2, who better to coach the defensive line in this scheme, than someone like Marinelli who has 10 yrs of experience, I still believe Marinelli can make this defensive line better, especially with his knowledge of the cover-2, I think he is the right guy for the job.

Lastly DC of DC, we could go on all day with this argument he had this guy and he had this guy, but here's some food for thought, name me a good coach that never had good players? GO BEARS!!

Kevin,

Aside from getting anything from 15th OVERALL PICK Booger McFarland who had an injury history ... WHO IS THE GUY that Rod Marinelli really turned into something special? Just name me the guy.

As for coaches having good players, some coaches CAN DEVELOP good players. I just keep hearing how great "Hot Rod" is and no one can point to a single player.

ps. I apologize, the post to Creighton was supposed to be in a different thread, but the points I made hold ... ONE GUY, name him!

Alright DC of DC, I'll stick up for my teams new defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, by giving you a couple names of players Marinelli help develop.

The first players is former Buccaneer nose tackle Brad Culpepper, Culpepper was a 10rd draft pick in 92 [today thats the equivalent of a free agent rookie], and Marinelli had Culpepper as the Bucs starting nose tackle from 96-99. First of all, any coach that can get x amount of starts from a 10th round draft pick is on top of his game as a coach. If you don't think thats impressive, how about the fact Culpepper was 6-1 270lbs, thats right, 270lbs as a nose tackle, oh yeah, Culpepper led the Bucs defensive line in tackles in 99 with 72tckls. Thats not bad play for a former 10th round draft pick is it??

The second player is Chidi Ahanotu the Bucs former starting defensive end from 96-99. Ahanotu was a 6th round draft pick in 93, by 2000, was 5th on the teams all-time sack list, if you know anything about football, you know thats impressive production from a 6th round draft pick!

Oh by the way, Ahanotu missed most of 98 with an injury, no problem for Marinelli, injuries happen right? Marinelli had Tyoka Jackson, a former free agent rookie from Atlanta in 94 to start 12 games for the Buccaneers, this is also a prime example of Marinelli being on top of his game as a defensive line coach to have a former free agent rookie ready to start.

DC of DC, these players were not big names, but they were major contributors under Marinelli's tutelage. DC of DC, its not only about the players, Marinelli's knows the scheme very well that Chicago is running on defense, of all the available defensive line coaches for the cover-2 scheme that the Bears run, Marinelli was the most qualified, by far. No one is saying anything about this guy being a savior, or the head coach, but he is the best guy for the job a defensive line coach for the Bears, you can only expect so much from the coaching, I think Marinelli should be able to help the Bears front four get better. Marinelli might not have been head coaching material, but with the success he had as a defensive line coach, and the good play he got from former free agent rookies, and 10th round draft picks, should prove he has what it takes to do the job, and thats all that really matters GO BEARS!!

Kevin: "The first players is former Buccaneer nose tackle Brad Culpepper, Culpepper was a 10rd draft pick in 92 [today thats the equivalent of a free agent rookie], and Marinelli had Culpepper as the Bucs starting nose tackle from 96-99. First of all, any coach that can get x amount of starts from a 10th round draft pick is on top of his game as a coach. If you don't think thats impressive, how about the fact Culpepper was 6-1 270lbs, thats right, 270lbs as a nose tackle, oh yeah, Culpepper led the Bucs defensive line in tackles in 99 with 72tckls. Thats not bad play for a former 10th round draft pick is it??"
Well that really is impressive stuff. Considering Brad Culpepper was DRAFTED by Minnesota and picked up by Tampa in 1994 and became an instant starter. Of course that was 2 years before Marinelli came to town.

"second player is Chidi Ahanotu the Bucs former starting defensive end from 96-99. Ahanotu was a 6th round draft pick in 93, by 2000, was 5th on the teams all-time sack list, if you know anything about football, you know thats impressive production from a 6th round draft pick!"
Ahanotu became a starter his rookie season of 1993 not 1996. He recorded 3 sacks in 1995, the most in his career to that point. Apaprently adding Warren Sapp to the d-line helped. In 1996, he had 5.5 sacks and in 1997 double-digits with 10. What changed in 1996 and 1997, well aside from using the 12th overall pick in 1995 to get Sapp, Tampa used the 12th overall pick in 1996 to get pass-rusher Regan Upshaw.

And Tyoka Jackson? Really? THE Tyoka Jackson who had 3.0 sacks and 21 tackles playing defensive end for 16 games? That guy? Playing next to Culpepper, Sapp, and Upshaw - Jackson is who you point to as Rod "being on his game"? Really?

How about Marcus Jones? You know the guy they took with the 22nd overall pick in 1996 (10 spots after Upshaw). You're pointing to a Tyoka Jackson being "ready to play" but they spent a 22nd overall pick on this guy and he didn't even crack the lineup until 2000 even with an INJURY to the starting defensive end! Granted Jones did have one good year - not coincidentally the same year Sapp (then) broke the sack record.

Before we start re-writing history you may want to know a little more about the situations and the players involved.

DC of DC, you do realize by bashing the players I named, your only making Marinelli look better right? Because he basically took a bunch of nobodies [and that was my whole point by the way], and made them competitive. I know we both agree Marinelli had success in Tampa, my whole point was he didn't just do it with Sapp & Rice.

FACT, while Marinelli was in Tampa, they had one of the leagues better defensive line, you can't argue with that. FACT, Marinelli coached up one of the leagues better defensive lines when he was in Tampa, with only 2 special players, Sapp & Rice, we both agree, that was why I named off a bunch of scrubs in my above blog, to prove my point, Marinelli took a defensive line made up of lower round draft picks, some other teams cast-offs, and Sapp & Rice who he didn't even have until 2001, and made them competitive, THATS GOOD COACHING!! DC of DC, your screaming above, name another special player Marinelli developed, I can't, because he didn't have one, thats my whole point. Marinelli didn't have another, other than Sapp, and Rice in 2001. But what he did do, and I don't think you understand this, was take a defensive line of players that weren't special [other than Sapp & Rice] and made them competitive. Its not just about developing superstars as a coach, its about having your team ready to play, and DC of DC, even you can't argue, the Bucs defensive line came ready to play when Marinelli was their coach, and with only TWO special players after 2001, before that it was only ONE, Sapp.

DC of DC, you said it yourself, Sapp & Rice were special before Marinelli got them, Rice was defensive rookie of the year, and Sapp was a stud in college, your right. Bottom line, either a player is special or their not, it doesn't matter who their coach is, the coaches job is to make sure they come ready to play, and Marinelli did just that with two stud players and a bunch of lower round draft picks, higher round draft bust, and other teams cast-offs, and made them a good defensive line.

DC of DC, again, Im not saying this guy is a savior, Im just saying he was a good choice for the job. Don't get mad just because you didn't like the idea of the Bears getting Marinelli, make the best of the situation, you might be surprised. Heck, I didn't like the idea of Chicago turning Devin Hester into a wideout, but this guy might just turn out to be a pretty good receiver with 51 catches, and only two years of experience, so who knows? I say give Marinelli a chance before running him out of town, you might be surprised GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 10, 2009 6:36 PM.

Bears land Marinelli to reshape defensive line was the previous entry in this blog.

Marinelli will not bring linebackers coach in package deal is the next entry in this blog.

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