Although national reports speculated Rod Marinelli would leave Dallas for Tampa Bay, Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said the Cowboys defensive coordinator is right where he belongs.
“What I wanted for Rod was for Rod to be happy, and he’s been happy,” Smith said Wednesday at the Scouting Combine. “He’s embraced the Dallas Cowboys and the tradition behind them. So I enjoyed my time I worked with Rod other places, but I’m OK with him being with my second favorite team.”
Marinelli never talked to Smith before telling Jason Garrett he wanted to remain with the Cowboys. Marinelli signed a three-year contract before becoming a free agent.
Smith, who grew up in Big Sandy, Texas, began his NFL career with Marinelli as assistants on the Bucs staff in 1996. They reunited in Chicago with the Bears in 2009, and Marinelli left after the 2012 season when Smith was fired, though the Bears offered for Marinelli to stay as defensive coordinator.
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Marinelli finished second in assistant coach of the year voting. He took over the third-worst defense in NFL history from Monte Kiffin, and the Cowboys finished 19th in total defense (355.1 yards per game) and second in takeaways (31).
“Not surprised at all,” Smith said. “I think I’m on record on what I think of Rod Marinelli as a football coach. I’ve just never been around a better man, a better coach. He’s the same way every day. Loves his job. You want him influencing our young men, and you want to see them have success, and he did a great job with them last year, and I’m really pulling for him to do the same thing except for that one game they come to Tampa next year.”