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A Tale Of Two Penalties: Rod Marinelli vs. Rob Ryan

One year ago, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cincinnati Bengals. On Sunday, Cowboys fans were treated to a flashback as defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was penalized for the same offense. Let's compare and contrast the infractions.

Rod Marinelli's passion for the game is self evident
Rod Marinelli's passion for the game is self evident
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ryan, as we all know, is a coach who is known for his displays of emotion during the game and sooner or later, that passion was bound to draw some negative attention his way. That happened during the Cowboys 20-19 win over the Bengals. Upset that the Cowboys defenders were being held, Ryan had been jawing back and forth over the issue. When the Bengals tackle, Andre Smith, decided to add his two cents to Ryan's diatribe, the boisterous coach decided that he had put up with enough. Ryan ventured out on to the playing surface to continue the debate with Smith in a more up close and personal manner. That's when the fellows with the yellow hankies decided that Rob had went too far. The Cowboys were assessed a half the distance to the goal penalty. The head coach was clearly not pleased with the actions of his chief defensive subordinate.

"One of their players came over and kind of hollered at our sidelines and Rob hollered back. We can’t do that. We have to keep our emotions in check. That was the scenario there about a potential call and their players reaction to us and Rob had a reaction. That felt like it was justified to call that penalty there."

"I think the bigger issue was he was out on the field. That was the explanation they gave me." - Jason Garrett on the Ryan penalty

Flash forward to last week's match up against the Washington Redskins and we have a similar penalty being called against the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. This time it was defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. The situation was sparked by a disputed ruling on an incomplete pass by Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Marinelli adamantly contended, and replay later confirmed, that Griffin had actually been downed prior to releasing the ball. Unfortunately, Marinelli might have been a little to adamant in his objection to the call and once again there was laundry on the playing surface. Although Jason Hatcher was credited with a sack on the play, the men in stripes then stepped off 15 yards against Dallas. The second time around, there was a different reaction from the head coach.

"I think initially, they ruled it that the quarterback had thrown the ball away, and I think we all saw that his knee was down, and I think Rod was just trying to let the official know that, and I guess the official didn’t like how he said it."

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"As soon as the flag happened, he turned to me and apologized. But if everybody brings it like Rod Marinelli brings it, we’ve got a really good chance of being a good football team." - Jason Garrett on the Marinelli penalty

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That is a pretty sharp contrast reactions by Jason Garrett; which begs the question "Why?" Other than the fact that had Rob Ryan stayed on the sidelines he likely would not have been flagged, I speculate that it all comes down to the underlying issue. In Cincinnati, Rob Ryan was actually engaging an opposing player in an argument that, at the very least, should have been broached with the officials; while on Sunday in Dallas, Rod Marinelli was actually debating the result of a play with the referees. At first, this might seem like a minor difference, but in the mind of the Rooster, it seems to have been a major change in circumstances. While Ryan was fighting with an opposing player, Marinelli was fighting on behalf of his own charges. In a team-focused organization like the Dallas Cowboys, that technicality can make all the difference.

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