The Dallas Cowboys have spent the first week of their offseason making changes to their coaching staff.
Friday night gave us the seemingly back-and-forth decision concerning Derek Dooley, who’s Missouri-bound.
Also coming on Friday night was the Star-Telegram’s report that Rod Marinelli is considering retirement.
The veteran defensive coordinator is mulling whether to return for the 2018 season, according to team sources. And if he does, 2018 will likely be it.
The Cowboys, and head coach Jason Garrett, are giving Marinelli as much time as he wants to decide. Veteran coaches of Marinelli’s age routinely contemplate retirement once the off-season begins.
Marinelli will turn 69 just before the Cowboys head to training camp this season. It’s understandable that he’d be at a stage of life where he’s ready for the next chapter.
This past week has been filled with support for Jason Garrett and his two coordinators from Jerry Jones. The trinity seems to be as intact as one can possibly be, especially coming off a disappointing 9-7 campaign.
What if Marinelli does retire, though?
Rod’s defense lived up to their hype at points last season, carrying the team far more often than originally anticipated. DeMarcus Lawrence took the leap, the young secondary looks promising, and even often-hated Taco Charlton looks somewhat solid.
If there’s a change fans want to see with a coordinator, it’s inarguably on the offensive side of things with Scott Linehan; however, if Rod wants to retire that’s not necessarily something within the Cowboys' control.
This could perhaps be a good thing for Dallas, though. Linebackers coach and passing game coordinator Matt Eberflus has reached the end of his contract, and it’s expected that he’ll be a defensive coordinator before all of the coaching changes are finished.
Eberflus has been linked to New England at times, but they don’t have a defensive coordinator vacancy just yet (though DC Matt Patricia will likely become a head coach as soon as the Patriots season is over). What if Dallas beat New England to the punch?
Mac Engel notes that the Cowboys are giving Marinelli time to make his decision, and he deserves that. On the subject of what people deserve, Eberflus has also earned his right to lead an NFL defense.
It could work to the Cowboys benefit if Rod Marinelli retires, he could essentially make the decision that they don’t want to make for them. He could sail off, enjoy life, and give the Cowboys the vacancy to promote Eberflus (assuming he were to even accept it).
Of course, the worst-case scenario here is that Marinelli retires and Eberflus still elects to go elsewhere. He purposely denied a contract extension last season, choosing instead to bet on himself, so he’s far from predictable.
Many have discussed the idea that the reason Jason Garrett’s coordinators are returning is that he’s being given another year to prove himself and that shuffling in new coordinators for that would seemingly be unfair. If you subscribe to that theory, there may be that level of pressure weighing on Marinelli to return, the pressure of helping Garrett in a potential prove-it 2018.
The longer the Cowboys wait to make any of these decisions, the longer Rod Marinelli mulls over retirement, the longer we wait for answers. Patience is a virtue, my friends.