In his first year as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2014, Rod Marinelli oversaw a unit that forced 31 takeaways. Last season, that number tumbled to 11, and Marinelli believes that played a significant role in their inability to win games in 2015—even as the defense did other things well.
“Not good enough,” Marinelli said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “It’s everything. I think the hustle, the effort, the hitting, all those things were good. We didn’t finish games like we should have, but the takeaways are the No. 1 thing in football.”
The Cowboys finished with a minus-22 turnover ratio, the worst in football. The team with the best ratio in football, the Carolina Panthers, will play in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
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“Just have to keep redoing it over and over,” Marinelli said. “I’ve always had success with it. We did it (in 2014). Last year I didn’t. You just got to keep doing it.”
Marinelli always preaches the importance of turnovers and it appears the message got through to Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Lee, who said this offseason will be devoted, in great part, to figuring out how to get more takeaways going forward.
“We’re all defensively going to this offseason looking at how we can cause more turnovers, how can we find a way to get to the quarterback to where we can have game-changing plays through the game and then in the fourth quarter down the stretch,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “That was the theme. You don’t have to watch too much film to know we didn’t cause turnovers and make plays in the fourth quarter.”