Rod Marinelli is often regarded as a whisperer of sorts when it comes to the defensive line.
This holds some water when you look at his time in Dallas, especially when you consider the season that DeMarcus Lawrence had in 2017.
But Marinelli doesn’t just work his magic with high draft picks like Lawrence. If there’s one thing Rod has been consistent at, it’s getting legitimate production out of castoff or forgotten defensive linemen. Think about it. Guys like George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey, and Benson Mayowa have had their best years under Marinelli. He also elevated the game of Jason Hatcher who had 11 sacks in 2013 while Marinelli was the defensive line coach. Terrell McClain and David Irving have also prospered on Marinelli’s defensive line.
Jihad Ward could be the next in line. Dallas acquired the defensive tackle they’d previously had eyes for with an even swap of Ryan Switzer. Considering the aforementioned Irving is suspended for the first four games of the season and that third-year man Maliek Collins is rehabbing a broken foot, that trade feels like a good one in the middle of June.
Ward figures to play a big role along Marinelli’s defensive line early. We’ve only experienced OTAs and minicamp thus far, but Ward is playing well and impressive. All signs point to optimism as of now.
The Cowboys have bargain hunted a lot in years past for players along the defensive line. Guys like Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory had their stock dinged for different reasons and Dallas found a way to bring them in, but ultimately (for now, concerning Gregory) those experiments have failed.
The bargain approach has yielded results with other players, though. Much like the Cowboys have shown an ability to find the occasional UDFA, they’re also showing an ability to find help along the defensive line and have Rod Marinelli work his magic on them. He may not make them superstars, but he definitely makes them serviceable players.
Let’s hope that Jihad Ward is the latest name in that bunch. We kind of need him to be.