Fiery defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli addresses future with Cowboys

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, Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES — Rod Marinelli’s defense got gashed Saturday night by the Los Angeles Rams. 

The Cowboys’ defensive coordinator willingly addressed the myriad failings of the unit that allowed two 100-yard rushers in the NFC divisional-round playoff loss. 

But he did not appreciate questions about his future with the team in a postgame interview.

An NFL Network/ report earlier Saturday claimed that Marinelli could adopt a senior defensive assistant role while Kris Richard took over as coordinator.

Richard already calls the defensive plays and is the defensive backs coach, and was a hot candidate for head coaching jobs in recent weeks, though he didn’t end up landing a position.

Marinelli, who works closely with the defensive line, has been a vocal supporter of Richard and their partnership leading the defense over the last season.

But Marinelli, 69, took umbrage when asked if he wanted to step aside.

“Why do people keep asking me the same question?,” he said, as a large group of media swarmed Richard nearby. “I can’t figure it out. Can somebody tell me why everybody asks me that? I would tell you. My age? You gotta be kidding me. Do you ever see me come out and not be energized and be ready to play? So why ask me that? I’m tired of answering that.”

Told of the report that Richard could be named defensive coordinator, Marinelli didn’t slow his fiery response.

“I’ve never heard of that. If you believe [the report] and not ask me? …I answer everything every week. …I never skirt an issue. For some guy to say, or doesn’t know me, doesn’t know the situation, haven’t come and ask me. Isn’t that embarrassing? To me it is. I’ve never ever shied away from a question. …

“And even though you ask 8,000 times if I’m going to retire or I feel a little old? I still respect it. But I’m disappointed in it. And I don’t respect people who ask that ’cause I think they’re soft. They’re really soft. What kind of question is that after a game?

“Want to ask me about run defense, I’m telling ya, I’ll give you everything you want.”

It’s possible that the roles of Marinelli and Richard largely stay the same, whatever titles they carry. 

So…speaking of what went wrong against the run, which the Cowboys had defended well for most of the season:

“They came off the ball, I thought they were explosive, the back ran hard,” Marinelli said. “As coaches and players we didn’t match that intensity. …Didn’t execute. If you don’t execute, and I said it the last three weeks — playoff football is running the ball. And nobody listens. …Without playing the run you don’t have a chance. We never created them to be a one-dimensional team.”

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to add additional information and quotes