Rod Marinelli Has Plan to Help Taco Charlton Improve

Taco Charlton has played 145 NFL snaps, spanning six games. Some folks have already labeled him a bust.


It’s too early to know what kind of player Charlton will become in the future. He’s still learning how to play.

Yes, the Cowboys expected him to have more than three tackles and three quarterback pressures by now, but they also understood he was a project when they signed him.  He’s done a few good things, but not as much as the coaches would like.

He practices hard, and he’s smart. Technically, Charlton has much to learn. He must do a better job finishing plays because NFL offensive linemen excel in recovering after they get beat and sustaining their blocks.

Charlton started one year at Michigan, and he was the last of six defensive ends selected in the first round of the 2017 draft.

If it makes you feel better, none of the other defensive ends taken in the first round are playing like All-Pros.

The have combined for a total of 10 sacks and four of those belong to Myles Garrett, the first pick overall. He’s also missed three games with a high-ankle sprain, and he’s currently in concussion protocol and will miss Sunday’s game in London against the Minnesota Vikings.

Solomon Thomas, a Coppell native taken third overall, has 24 tackles. No other defensive end taken in the first round has more than 10. Jonathan Allen, taken 17th overall, is expected to miss the season with a foot injury.

These days, a pass-rushing defensive end is one of the NFL’s most difficult positions to master, in part, because left tackles are some of the game’s best athletes.

Few defensive ends enter the league and make an impact. Just so you know, Aldon Smith and Joey Bosa are the only defensive ends in the last decade to get double-digit sacks as rookies.

Players such as J.J. Watt and Jason Pierre-Paul hit double-digits in their second seasons. Understand, no one with any sense expected Charlton to get 10 sacks this season, but they did expect more impact plays.

Against Green Bay two games ago, Charlton played A season-low eight snaps, in part, because Marinelli is an impatient sort.

The reality, however, is the Cowboys invested a first-round pick in him. They had only $775,000 invested in Moore and they have only $1.1 million invested in Benson Mayowa this season.

Moore didn't have a future here and Mayowa’s future is tenuous at best because he has no sacks and eight pressures this season. He had a team-high 6.5 sacks last season.

So the best move is to force-feed Charlton playing time and see how much he improves over the next two months.

“Sure, it’s hard because nothing is working,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “ It’s just a grind of going through it all. It’s just a grind. There are some small things coming every time and, yes. it’s not giant steps, it’s baby steps right now. I’m seeing some baby steps.”

Marinelli is talking about Charlton’s acceleration at the snap of the ball is better and more consistent. His body lean is more consistent and Charlton is keeping his pad-level low, so he can play with more leverage.

Most of all, Marinelli wants the rookie reacting instead of thinking.

“He’s got to be a little bit more decisive right now in his movement,”Marinelli said. “There was one play, it was on a bootleg, he got up in a guy’s face. Two things there: it was a stunt we have and he did it correctly.

“He didn’t do it well during the week. We went through it. He got it, read it and now the next step is maybe get your hands up and go big.”

The process is slow, but there’s no quick way to turn a project into a player.

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