Rod Marinelli has crafted a career out of not blitzing.
But he won the Cowboys an important football game last week by straying from his strategy.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and – while stubborn – Marinelli is no fool. He benched his beloved four-man rush for blitzes. Early. Often. And, most importantly, effective.
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The Cowboys’ offense is handicapped without Tony Romo. The days of scoring 30, even 20 points are gone. Dallas can’t afford to sit back and allow teams to control the ball, because their counter-punching has been de-fanged. Even more troubling to the equation, while the Cowboys’ defense has been better than average at limiting opponents’ points it hasn’t produced takeaways to set up the offense with advantageous field position.
Add it all up and, yep, Marinelli was forced to play outside his comfort zone.
“Some of those pressures had been good for us, and you want to constantly be on the attack,” head coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday in his press conference. “There are different ways to attack. The key to those pressures is the execution of the pressures. You can dial them up all you want, but if you don’t do them the right way you’re not going to get home.”
The Cowboys brought the safety blitz on the first play. And didn’t stop bringing pressure until the Dan Bailey’s 54-yard field goal allowed them to escape with a win.
The challenge – the gamble – is now this: Can Marinelli blitz Aaron Rodgers like he did Kirk Cousins?
No doubt the strategy will allow some big plays, but at this point the Cowboys have no other choice.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.