Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had no answers for the Rams running game, which rushed for a club-record 273 yards in their 30-22 victory over Dallas in the NFC Divisional playoffs on Saturday.
It was the first time in Cowboys postseason history that two backs topped 100 yards in the same game. The last time it happened in the regular against Dallas was the final game at Texas Stadium in 2008 by Baltimore’s Leron McClain and Willis McGahee.
But Marinelli was ready and waiting when questions arose about his future following the game.
A number of reports have suggested that Marinelli might retire or the Cowboys may move him to a different role to reward Kris Richard, the secondary coach/passing game coordinator credited with the improvement in the defense in 2018.
Richard was a candidate for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job, but the team is going with New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, according to reports.
So Richard will be back with the Cowboys and Marinelli will apparently return as the defensive coordinator.
Marinelli, 69, grew testy when asked again about his future.
“I am tired of answering it,” Marinelli said. “I have answered it every week since I have been here. You have asked me 5,000 times if I am going to retire or if I feel a little old. I am disappointed in it. What kind of question is that after the game.”
Regarding the poor run defense, Marinelli said, “There are no excuses. Coaches and players didn’t perform. We didn’t get off blocks. They did everything we expected. We didn’t execute.
“Anybody got an idea how old I am going next year?”
Richard said he not thinking about another job. He said his focus is on the players in the Cowboys locker room and they will get back together and get right back.
Furthermore, Richard, who is the defensive play-caller, said the woeful performance was on him.
“It’s on me,” Richard said. “I have to do a much better job of having our guys prepared to execute when we get out there on the field. We didn’t attain our goal. Our goal is as simple as us being the best that we can absolutely be. Tonight, we did not show that.”
But Richard did allow that the youth on defense, especially at linebacker, caught up to the Cowboys Saturday night. The defensive line got blown off the ball. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were often out of position and veteran Sean Lee provided little help.
“They came off the ball and knocked us back,” Richard said. “We showed our youth at an inopportune time. It wasn’t the right timing for us.”