After the Cowboys’ loss to the Packers today, head coach Jason Garrett is now a free agent and is free to sign with any team. If he’s retained as expected, though, he may have to find a new defensive coordinator, as the Buccaneers are expected to hire Rod Marinelli to their DC position, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Marinelli, whose contract also just expired, worked in Tampa Bay from 1996-2005 as a defensive line and assistant head coach.
Assuming he finalizes a deal with Tampa Bay, Marinelli will replace Leslie Frazier, the former Vikings head coach who led the Bucs’ defense in 2014. Despite adding Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner to defense that already contained stars in Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, Tampa’s defense finished just 25th in both yards allowed and points allowed; advanced metrics liked the unit a little better, as it finished 18th in DVOA. On the flip side, Dallas’ defense, which was expected by many to be among the worst in the league, was 14th in yards allowed, 15th in points allowed, but 22nd in DVOA.
The 65-year-old Marinelli was the head coach of the Lions from 2006-08, and was with the Bears from 2009-12 in a variety of defensive roles. Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, of course, was Chicago’s HC during that time, so the two are obviously familiar. The Cowboys, meanwhile, will need to find a replacement for Marinelli — longtime Steelers DC Dick LeBeau recently resigned, but he runs a 3-4 scheme while Dallas has run a 4-3 front under Marinelli. If Jim Schwartz ultimately doesn’t stick around as Rex Ryan’s defensive coordinator in Buffalo, he would be a nice fit with the Cowboys.