Marinelli Return a Surprise, Blessing | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Marinelli Return a Surprise, Blessing

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 4: Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli of the Dallas Cowboys on the field during warmups before a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

    Within hours of Dez Bryant's catch being overturned and the Dallas Cowboys' season coming to a heartbreaking end at Lambeau Field, there were reports floating around that Rod Marinelli would indeed be heading to Tampa Bay to be the defensive coordinator for longtime friend Lovie Smith.

    The scenario had been talked about for a while given Marinelli's loyalty to Smith, but it was finally "confirmed" in a report by Pro Football Talk, a normally reliable source of NFL information.

    Since then, all hell has broken loose and that report has fallen apart, to the point that all local reports say the Cowboys have agreed to a deal with Marinelli, though it hasn't officially been announced by the Cowboys yet.

    It's surprising in the sense that just about everyone thought Marinelli would go to Tampa Bay, where he'd have some better defensive players than he had this year in Dallas and get to work for one of his best friends. But the fact he's actually coming back to Dallas is arguably the biggest offseason move the Cowboys have made and will make this winter/spring.

    Marinelli took over the NFL's worst defense from 2013 then saw his three best players exit stage right — DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher via free agency and Sean Lee via a torn ACL in OTAs. All Marinelli did was oversee a defense that improved to 19th overall and 15th in scoring defense, which was good enough with the Cowboys' stellar offense to win 13 games.