Perhaps the Dallas Cowboys’ defense doesn’t need a change.
The DC’s future with the Cowboys has been a topic of debate, along with other members of the coaching staff.
It remains to be seen whether the last month of the season has any bearing on the front office view of Marinelli, or whether his support in the locker room holds any weight.
But the defense, with linebacker Sean Lee back on the field, put together its best month of the season. Four of the Cowboys’ seven games in which they held their opponent to under 300 yards came in December. The Eagles were held to 219 yards, their second fewest allowed this season. The last time the Cowboys pitched a shutout was against the Eagles in the 2009 regular-season finale.
“I think the last four games this defense has played really well and I think we showed we’ve improved as the year has gone on,” Lee said. “[I have] extreme confidence in [Marinelli]. He’s a Hall of Fame coach, a defensive coordinator that we thrive being around. This system has proven to produce great players and produce great defenses.”
After allowing a season-high 515 yards at home to the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 23 and a third consecutive loss, the Cowboys rebounded to finish the season 4-1.
“We just had to get back to our style of defense and play our system the way we’re supposed to play it,” defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. “I feel like Coach Marinelli did a good job of getting us back on track and getting us to the point where we’re playing our style of defense again. It’s crappy that it’s over. I feel like we would have been a great defense in the playoffs. We have to live with that and use it as a stepping stone, a building block for next year.”
Lee, who missed five games and saw limited action in several others because of hamstring injuries, hopes the sting of missing the playoffs spurs the team in 2018.
“It’s a learning a lesson and understanding that things are very fragile. If you don’t win close games, if you don’t make plays that you need to make, when we don’t have all of our guys, all of a sudden you can be in a position that we are right now,” he said.
“We’re 9-7, we were in a lot of close football games that we could’ve won and put ourselves in the playoffs. So I’m not using that as an excuse. We shouldn’t use that. We have to understand that if we want to get back on track we’ve got to win those close games and make those plays.”