Almost immediately after the Dallas Cowboys were defeated by the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last month, rumors began to surface suggesting that defensive coordinator and coaching-free agent-to-be Rod Marinelli would depart for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to work under his old friend, Bucs’ head coach Lovie Smith.
The two had worked together for five seasons in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000 and four seasons in Chicago, from 2009-2012.
Of course, those rumors turned out to be wrong, and Marinelli returned to Dallas on a three-year deal that puts him among the highest paid assistants in the NFL. Smith told reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week that he was just fine with his friend’s decision.
“What I wanted for Rod was for Rod to be happy,” Smith said, per the Dallas Morning News. “He’s embraced the Dallas Cowboys and the tradition behind them. I’ve enjoyed my time working with Rod in other places, but I’m OK with him being with my second favorite team.”
Smith went on to say he wasn’t at all surprised by the job Marinelli did in 2014 when, in his first year as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, he took the unit that was historically bad just the year before to a level of respectability.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Smith said. “I think I’m on record on what I think of Rod Marinelli as a football coach. I have never been around a better man, a better coach. He’s the same way every day. He loves his job. You want him influencing our young men.
“You want to see them have success and he did a great job with them last year. I’m really pulling for him to do the same thing except for that one game when they come to Tampa next year.”
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