One of the popular stories surrounding the Cowboys is that the team has a no-name defense that's held together by little more than hustle and Rod Marinelli's coaching.
And that story is not without merit. In 2013 for example, the Cowboys cycled through 19 defensive lineman over the course of the season. It got so bad in practice at one point that when Rod Marinelli called, “Hey, new guy!”, the entire defensive line turned around.
The Cowboy defensive players themselves have bought into the story of the defense being the perennial underdog.
“Coach Marinelli always has something he comes up with every year,” Tyrone Crawford said last year. “This year it’s ‘The Mighty Orphans.’ It’s kind of how we live, the mentality of being treated with less [respect]. We’re Rocky, not the Russians. We don’t get the high-class treatment, but we get the job done."
More recently, the legend of the under-manned and under-talented defense has taken on a bit of a life of its own, especially when the Cowboys lost a handful of defensive starters this year. This led some to question whether Rod Marinelli's ability to coax the maximum out of his defensive players has allowed the Cowboys to shortchange the defensive side of the ball in the draft and in free agency.
Rod Marinelli's role in all of this has grown to such an extent that he's being called Master Splinter, the sensei who trained the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the arts of ninjutsu, all while raising them as his own sons.
"He's Master Splinter," Crawford said. "Definitely."
Most recently this legend of the under-talented defense held together by Rod Marinelli's coaching surfaced in one of Peter King's meandering reflections on another week of NFL play.
I think the Giants’ porous line helped, but I’ll be damned if Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli hasn’t again figured a way to take a slew of blue-collar players with a star or two (Sean Lee may be the only one) and build a defense that should be good enough for Dallas to contend for the playoffs.
Blue-collar players with a star or two?